Dan Harding today denied refusing to sign a new contract with Albion.

The England under-21 defender's current deal expires at the end of the season and the Seagulls have offered him a two-year extension.

The issue has been dragging on, during which time Harding has been linked with a possible move to a number of clubs, including Everton, Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Glasgow Rangers and Cardiff.

"My agent and myself had a meeting with the manager and the chairman," Harding said. "We are talking to the club. It's not true that I won't sign."

Albion manager Mark McGhee is desperate for Harding to stay. The 20-year-old leftback is one of the young prospects he is trying to build the team around and McGhee fears most of any transfer fee received for Harding would be swallowed up by the Seagulls' financial problems.

Albion will, however, be keen to resolve the contract saga before January, when the Premiership transfer window re-opens.

Harding would not be entitled to a free transfer next summer, as he is under 23, but any compensation the Seagulls received for him then would probably be less than if they sold him in January.

Harding makes his 13th Championship appearance on the trot at second-placed Ipswich tomorrow, as Albion try to repeat the upset they caused in their last away game at West Ham.

He admits his form has been better for country than club but insists it is not for the want of trying.

"If I wasn't giving 100 per cent the gaffer wouldn't be playing me and the other players wouldn't even let me on the pitch," Harding said.

"It's a different type of football for England. As a defender you get a lot more time on the ball and thereafore are under a lot less pressure. In the Championship you are under a lot more pressure and some balls are going to go astray.

"The gaffer has told me he wants me to get forward more and I have tried to add that to my game. I am going forward more and getting more crosses in."

Whether Harding operates as an orthodox leftback or left wingback at Portman Road depends on how McGhee deals with the return from suspension of skipper Danny Cullip.

He played 3-5-2 at West Ham, then 4-5-1 in last Saturday's home defeat by Burnley in the absence of Adam Virgo, who is still banned tomorrow.

Ipswich are spearheaded by Harding's England under 21 team-mate Darren Bent. "I think he is going to be their main danger," Harding said.

"He has been doing brilliantly for club and country. He has come on for the under 21's and scored some important goals for us."

It is almost a year since Ipswich failed to score at home and an optimistic McGhee believes it is important for Albion not to concede early on.

"We are not a free-scoring team and we have to work hard to get a goal, so if we lose a goal early we are really up against it," he said.

"We have got to rely on the little bit of fortune we had at West Ham for the first 20 minutes, defend well and work hard.

"I know our shortcomings, but I am still going into this game thinking we can win. There are times in your career as a manager when you are wondering how you can win a game, but I don't feel like that at all. I feel quite upbeat about our chances."

Gary Hart's hopes of being in the squad have been hit by a hamstring injury.