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Thursday, September 30

Cash in the kitty

Town have money available to bring in a loan player according to Joe Royle. But not much.

"There is cash in the kitty to bring in one player for one month and I'll be thinking it through in the next couple of weeks. We will not just go out and make a loan signing for the sake of it. It is about assessing things and deciding if there is a particular need in a specific area of the team. Basically, we are operating on 15 outfield players and two keepers. It's not a lot, but we have done well so far and we need to consider very carefully any moves in the loan market. We only have a limited sum of money to spend and it is essential that we spend it wisely."

Despite being included in the England U-20 squad for their game with Holland next week and having captained his country at every level from schoolboy upwards Chris Hogg knows that it is not going to happen for him at Town and was been given a free transfer by Joe Royle sometime ago. Hogg joined the Academy for GBP150,000 from York City in 2001 but has not progressed as expected, and with a fee payable to the Minstermen should he make a first-team appearance, that possibility looks very remote. The Middlesborough born centre-half talks about his future in today's EADT.

And the aforementioned Hogg is in the reserve squad travelling to Barnet FC's Underhill ground tonight for the FA Premier Reserve League fixture with Arsenal. Lewis Price has been left out to avoid the possibility of injury, given Kelvin Davis' problematic back, leaving goalkeeping responsibilities to Shane Supple.

Town from: Supple, Hogg, Collins, Sobers, Barron, Flack, Mitchell, Dinning, Murray, Craig, Garvan, Bowditch, Counago, Knights, Clarke and Manning.

Wednesday, September 29

Town 1 Reading 1

Town drew 1-1 with table topping Reading at FPR last night but will feel somewhat aggrieved to have not taken all three points. Shefki Kuqi gave Town the lead after just 10 minutes, his third goal in two games, and should have put the Blue's two-up before Dave Kitson equalised for the Royal's after 26.

Kitson's goal, as well as looking a yard or so offside, was scored while Jason De Vos was forced to leave the field by the referee to have a single stitch put in a cut over his eye. A decision that did not please Joe Royle:

"It was not that bad, we have all played on with far worse. He has needed one stitch but it is has kept some gnome in Zurich, some old fart, in a job for another year. We lost at Stoke in the last minute because De Vos was off the pitch having treatment for a blow to a head, then the ball goes right to where he would have been. The whole blood thing is ridiculous. Jason could have been strapped up and got on with the game. If it had always been like this Terry Butcher would never have finished a game. This has cost us, even though the lad was blatantly offside, Jason being off the pitch has cost us."

Keeper Kelvin Davis was replaced at half-time by Lewis Price after struggling through the first 45 minutes with a niggling back problem but should be fit for the televised game at Coventry City this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 28

1,000 Up for BFJ

As Joe Royle prepares to take control of a team for the 1,000th time in tonight's home game with Reading, over on the official site Chairman David Sheepshanks pulls out all the stops to heap Town's manager with praise:

"The esteem in which Joe Royle has held among his peers says everything. He is much admired by his fellow managers the length and breadth of the country, not to mention many others in the game. He is a man of great stature, an enthusiast and an engaging personality who has the rare ability of commanding both the respect and affection of his players. Joe joined us on a mission to return us to the Premiership. Despite the changing economic face of football and the type of conditions in which we and most clubs outside the Premier League have to operate these days, he is now fashioning a team that is increasingly giving cause for optimism. I am delighted for Joe to have reached this landmark and, while he deserves all of the accolades he is getting, I know he remains focused on the job at hand."

And Joe himself reflects on a management career that spans twenty-two years:

"I have great memories at all my clubs. Oldham was special, reaching Wembley, getting into the Premiership for three years - which is the equivalent of Colchester doing it - and just my 12 years there in general. I also enjoyed my time with Everton and Manchester City and there have been some great occasions here at Ipswich as well. The win over Sheffield United, the 6-1 victory over Burnley, the comeback at Palace last season. All special memories. I am proud to reach 1,000 games, although to be honest it was not something that I was very aware of. There aren't too many of us who have reached that figure and it will mean something to me and three points against Reading will be the perfect way to celebrate."

Monday, September 27

Wilnis sorry for dismissal

Fabian Wilnis, sent-off in yesterday's game with Plymouth, has promised to buy team mate Shefki Kuqi a drink for netting the two goals that won the game for Town. Wilnis received a straight red in the 26th minute for a dangerous challenge on the visitors Keith Lasley.

"I will be buying Shefki a drink. I really owe him and the rest of the lads. I let the fans down, my team-mates, the manager and myself. I was very disappointed to get the red card, but the team managed to get the three points. Such is the spirit in the squad, that I still had the belief in them although it was very difficult. When Shefki equalised, I knew we could go on and win. I did catch the lad, but it wasn't deliberate. I was fully committed to making the tackle and thought I would win the ball. Once I made the tackle, I knew I would get a yellow, but I was very surprised when he showed me a straight red."

Wilnis will serve an automatic three-match ban starting from tomorrow night's home game with league leaders Reading.

Elsewhere, the U-18's lost 2-0 at home to Watford at Playford Road on Saturday morning.

Sunday, September 26

Kuqi rallies Town


You can never count on Town to do things the easy way. Having gifted Plymouth a two-goal lead inside fifteen minutes, had Fabian Wilnis sent-off for a late tackle on Keith Lasley (26 minutes), Town powered back to rescue first a point (82 minutes) and then clinch what earlier would have seemed an unlikely win (85 minutes) courtesy of a brace from the inspirational Shefki Kuqi. The 3-2 win keeps Town's 100 per cent home record intact and moves them above Stoke City and into third in the Championship.

Joe Royle praised the honesty of his Ipswich side: "If I am honest we could have been out of the game soon after half-time had they taken their chances. We had to bypass midfield where they had five against three and the crowd had to give us a little bit of faith - but we kept going and if we lack anything as a team it is not honesty. We scored three goals and if you score three goals you are likely to win the match."

Elsewhere, Darlington manager David Hodgson is set to make a loan bid for Town's Chris Hogg. Hogg, who joined Town from York City over three years ago, looks likely to join the Quakers as a replacement for long-term injury victim Joey Hutchinson.

Saturday, September 25

Looking for a massive improvement

Plymouth Argyle visit Portman Road today on the back of three consecutive defeats at the hands of QPR, Leeds and Wolves. Argyle, promoted as champions of the second division last season, made a flying start to the current campaign, winning three of their first four league game, and are out to prove that that was no fluke.

"We've played Leeds and Wolves now and my view is that they're not much better than us," said manager Bobby Williamson. "We're going through a bad patch but I'm sure we'll respond."

Meanwhile, Town captain Jim Magilton is looking for a "massive improvement" from Town after the embarrassing performance served up in the Carling Cup against Doncaster: "We've got to show a massive improvement from midweek. Hopefully it was just a one-off but either way our performance simply wasn't good enough."

Town are currently fourth in the Championship and could go top if results go their way today.

Town Squad: Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Kelvin Davis, Drissa Diallo, Jason De Vos, Tony Dinning, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matthew Richards, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.

Darren Bent admits that the speculation over his Town future, and the GBP3.0Million bid by Charlton Athletic last month, had an unsettling effect on him but he believes he will be a better player for it. In an interview in today's match programme he says:

"It was a difficult time for me. Everywhere I looked there was talk of me going to Charlton and everywhere I went, people from all angles were asking me if I was leaving Ipswich. That is all I seemed to be getting at that stage and I am not pretending it didn't affect me."

And lastly, Town's U-18's take on Watford at Playford Road this morning.

Friday, September 24

Stop your messin' around

Defeat at Doncaster in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night has hit Joe Royle's plans to bring in loan players Town's manager has admitted: "I'm not devastated at getting knocked out of the Carling Cup but what it does is it closes a funding avenue for us to bring in loan players and our loan budget at the moment is very small."

BFJ has been looking to bring in additional players since pre-season and this week has been linked with Dougie Freedman of Crystal Palace who turned down the chance of a loan spell at FPR preferring instead to stay and fight for a first team place at Selhurst Park.

A real ale produced by a Lowestoft brewery to mark Norwich City's promotion to the Premiership has been on sale at this weeks Ipswich Beer Festival. Owner of the Green Jack Brewery, Tim Dunford, saw an opportunity to score a few points by introducing "Canary Premier" to Suffolk drinkers: "We thought we'd put it in for the Ipswich Beer Festival for one reason only - to wind them up. And it worked."

According to a report in a national newspaper, Spanish giants Real Madrid have identified ex-Ipswich and England manager Sir Bobby Robson as the man they want as their new head coach. Sacked by Newcastle just a week or so into the new Premiership season, Uncle Bobby is said to been looking around for another challenge.

Lewis Price has been named in the Welsh U-21 squad that will take on their English counterparts in next months European Championship qualifier at Ewood Park. Price has put in some impressive performances for Wales keeping two consecutive clean sheets in the process. However, Darren Bent, who has scored six goals in eight appearances as sub for England, will be trying to bring that run to an end: "Ever since the draw was first made in the summer we have been winding each other up. Lewis has done well for Wales but I intend to have him picking the ball out of the net and he knows it."

Coventry City fans are urging their club to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Coventry based Two-Tone phenomena by playing The Specials "A Message To You Rudy" as the City and Ipswich sides enter Highfield Road for the televised league clash on Sunday, October 3rd.

Lastly, Billy Clarke scored again for Town's reserves in the 1-1 with Colchester United in a friendly at Playford Road on Wednesday. The Republic of Ireland U-17 international netted early in the second half before the U's equalised through Jamie Guy.

Wednesday, September 22

Donny go through

An inept/disinterested/hopeless Town were unceremoniously dumped out of the Carling Cup by lower league opposition for the second season running last night. Last year it was Notts County at Meadow Lane (2-1) and this year its Doncaster Rovers at Belle Vue (2-0). Last year it took the East Midlands side just 4 minutes to take the lead, last night Town at least held out until the seventh minute when Ricky Ravenhill netted for the South Yorkshire outfit. The only surprise then was that it took the home side until early in the second half to extend their lead when Jermaine MscSporran scored.

"It's very disappointing to go out at this stage of the competition", said BFJ afterwards. "We dominated possession and our goalkeeper didn't really have a save to make but we didn't create enough in front of goal either. Two or three of them didn't want to be there for whatever reason and it showed - we were chocolate warriors. We got hold of the game more in the second half after Tommy Miller had come on but we never got back in the game and I don't think we deserved to."

Tuesday, September 21

Best manager England never had

Former Nottingham Forest and Derby County manager Brian Clough died yesterday from stomach cancer at the age of 69. Clough, who had suffered from ill-health for a number of years, passed away in Derby City hospital.

Cloughie won consecutive European Cups with Forest in 1979 and 1980, and also won the League with Forest and Derby.

Often regarded as the best manager never to have managed his country, Cloughie bowed out of management in 1993, managing Forest for the very last time in a 2-1 loss at Portman Road. Another milestone achieved in front of Town fans came in May, 2003 when he was granted the freedom of Derby in a ceremony before the Nationwide League Division One clash between County and the Blue's.

Joe Royle will make a number of changes to Town's starting eleven for the Carling Cup second round tie at Doncaster Rovers tonight, with Matt Richards, Tony Dinning and Dean Bowditch all expected to start. This is the Blue's first game at Belle Vue since a 1-1 draw with Rovers in the old second division (now the Championship) on Saturday April 26th, 1958.

Belle Vue has recently been renamed the Earth Stadium in a sponsorship deal, and the home side are unbeaten there in five games. A crowd of around 7,000 is expected in South Yorkshire, including around 1,000 Town fans.

Town squad: Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Kelvin Davis, Drissa Diallo, Jason De Vos, Tony Dinning, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Scott Mitchell, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.

Monday, September 20

Who ate all the pies?

No one in the Town squad was happier for Pablo Counago on Saturday, when he netted Town's equaliser at Upton Park, than midfielder Tommy Miller. Miller and Counago both arrived at Town during the close season of 2001, and have both had their fair share of ups and downs in terms of injury and form since then but while Miller is now a first choice in the starting eleven Counago has been free transfer listed by Joe Royle.

"Pablo signed at the same time as I did and we built up an understanding straight away in pre-season games and in training, " Miller told the EADT. "I have said all along how much I enjoy playing with him. On his day he is a fantastic centre forward and I was so pleased he got his goal and pleased that he was playing. He loves the ball to his feet and nine times out of ten when you do that he gives it back to you. He is a great player to play with."

Who ate all the pies? ... well according to supermarket chain Tesco, it was the residents of ... Norwich. The turkey neck and giblet pulpers are said to have gorged their way through a belt-bulging 1.8m pies since January of this year, the equivalent of 14.8 per person.

"Football fans across Britain will be rejoicing at the news because now they have an answer to their age old soccer chant," Tesco spokesperson Kate Rivett told the BBC.

The Willhire Cup, which was contested by Town, Norwich, Cambridge and Colchester in the late 70's and early 80's has ended up in the hands of a Town season ticket holder. The trophy was last won by Norwich and was assumed to have been returned to sponsors Willhire, now ArrivaWillhire, in Bury St Edmunds. But it recently resurfaced on the internet auction site Ebay where it was "won" by the Blue's fan who paid GBP1,200 for the rosebowl trophy.

"It's not every day that a trophy which professional teams used to play for comes up for sale, so I couldn't resist," said the Town fan who wished to remain anonymous. "To be honest, I was surprised it found its way to the internet. Because Norwich have won relatively few trophies in their history, you think they'd do a better job of hanging on to them."

And lastly, despite taking the lead on two occasions Town's U-18's lost 3-2 at Tottenham on Saturday. Blair Hammond and Darryl Knights where the scorers for the Blue's who where reduced to ten men when midfielder Owen Garvan was sent off for second bookable offence.

Sunday, September 19

Two stops short of Barking

Upton Park

Free transfer listed Pablo Counago scored a second half equaliser for Town to earn the Blue's a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw at West Ham yesterday.

Town went a goal down after just 11 minutes when former Norwich defender Malky Mackay headed home Luke Chadwick's cross.

The home side then forced two excellent saves from Kelvin Davis before squandering an excellent chance to go two up.

Town's keeper pulled down Matthew Etherington in the area but Terry Sheringham hit the spot kick well wide of the goal.

Counago levelled 11 minutes into the second period when he turned and fired home from eight yards following a Town corner.

Not for the first time Joe Royle was less than impressed with Town's defending but was very pleased with an impressive second half performance and the way his side fought back:

"At times we defend like happy amateurs. The team must learn that all 11 players need to defend, not just the back four and I said at half time that we needed to start defending properly. But I thought that we were terrific in the second half and could have nicked it, although a draw was about right."

Hammer's manager Alan Pardew said his players should not have allowed Teddy Sheringham's missed spot kick to deflate them the way it did, but was nonetheless impressed by Town:

"We cannot let the penalty miss cloud the issue and say that it was the only reason we failed to win. It is a natural reaction for players' heads to drop in that situation, but you must give credit to the way Ipswich played in the second half. They are a good side and they showed their quality by playing some good stuff, and we struggled to cope with their narrow midfield."

Saturday, September 18

Big mouth strikes again

Hot air

Town captain Jim Magilton is looking to silence West Ham manager Alan Pardew today. Town's midfield dynamo thinks Pardew has been spouting more than his fair share of hot air since moving to Upton Park from Reading a year ago.

"He is making noises saying that this is his side now, meaning he has no excuses. This is the team he built and one he feels can go on and win the Championship. We will have to wait and see. I think Alan Pardew makes a lot of noise. He felt his side should have gone up last year, but for me Crystal Palace deservedly went up, so a lot of hot air comes out from him. Pardew has made a lot of bold predictions and in this game I don't believe you can afford to do that."

Pardew has taken the market traders approach to transfers since taking the helm in East London, bringing in eight new players and shipping out seven during the summer months alone.

Kevin Horlock, a West Ham supporter as a boy, was one of the seven that left Upton Park during the close season having been told by Pardew that he did not figure in his plans. Horlock, who has made an impressive start to his Town career, is trying not to make his return to East London to personal:

"I would like to say it is not personal but there is always something in the back of your mind. In truth I would love to go back there and for us to win and for me to have a great game. Then perhaps it would be a little pointer saying I was worth keeping. I'm not bitter though. Alan Pardew was honest with me and told me I would not be playing regularly which I appreciate him telling it straight. Football is about opinion and that is his."

The squad of seventeen making today's trip to London is unchanged from the midweek jaunt to Stoke:

Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Kelvin Davis, Drissa Diallo, Jason De Vos, Tony Dinning, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Scott Mitchell, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.

Friday, September 17

Joe keeping a watchful eye

Upton Park last December

Joe Royle continues to keep a watchful eye on the loan market and will bring in new faces to boost Town's promotion bid if and when the right players become available:

"There are two or three players I ask about consistently. The players I am interested in are not available right now, but things change and I am always monitoring the situation. If it's not possible now, we might be able to do something later. We are always looking to improve, which is always the case in football. Even Arsenal believe they can get better."

Alan Pardew, manager of West Ham, is expecting a tough game against Town at Upton Park tomorrow. The Hammers are currently in fourth place, level on points with the Blue's, but have a marginally inferior goal difference:

"We know that Ipswich like to play attacking football and we will have to be ready for them. It will be interesting certainly, as this will be the first time we have met them since the play-off semi-finals. It will be a battle but we've got to push on from our two wins this week and get a run going if we can."

Elsewhere, former academy midfielder/full-back Stuart Boardley has joined Torquay United on a short term contract after a successful trial with the south coast side.

Thursday, September 16

Ton up for BFJ

Loving it

Town manager Joe Royle will celebrate his 100th game in the charge of the Blue's when Ipswich take on West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday, and "It's been a roller coaster time," he told the Evening Star.

"The job has changed since my appointment - it's not the one I originally came here to do - but I am nevertheless enjoying it and I love it here in Suffolk. When I took the job I was looking forward to working with players like Matt Holland, Hermann Hreidarsson, Jamie Clapham and others. My hope was that with a bit of fine tuning we would be returning to the Premier League. I knew that one player would have to be sold, but in fact we have had a complete turnover in staff because of our financial circumstances and going into adminstration. Now, though, our wage bill is virtually a quarter of what it was and we are on our way back."

BFJ made his managerial debut for Town in the 1-0 home win over Slovan Liberec in the UEFA Cup 2nd Round on October 31st, 2002 and has since gone onto to establish a record of 48 wins, 21 draws and 30 losses, earning league placing of 7th and 5th in 2002/03 and 2003/04 in the process.

Elsewhere, Darlington have signed former Blue's striker Alun Armstrong. Armstrong was released by Town during the summer and has since been a target for Walsall, Rotherham and Bristol City.

And lastly, Richard Naylor was very disappointed at the manner of Town's defeat at the hands of Stoke on Tuesday night and the manner in which the three goals were given away.

"They were terrible goals and it was a very disappointing result. At 2-1 you would have expected us to go on and get three points. But we gave away two poor goals from set pieces. They were carbon copies. The third goal really was terrible. I'm not going to point the finger of blame at anyone but it was certainly a horrible way to lose the match, especially as it came five minutes from the end."

Wednesday, September 15

Town lose a thriller

The Britannia Stadium

Town's hold on first place at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship lasted just two days as they were replaced last night by Stoke who, despite being reduced to ten men, twice came from behind to win by 3 goals to 2.

A highly entertaining first forty-five minutes saw the sides level at one-a-piece after Jason De Vos had put Town ahead with a headed goal on 41 and Thomas had levelled for the home side three minutes later.

Town regained the lead in the 62nd minute through Ian Westlake after excellent build-up play by Pablo Counago, Tommy Miller and Darren Bent, and Town could have been excused for thinking they had the game won.

But Thomas levelled again after 75, and despite having Halls sent-off for a second yellow in the 82nd minute, Stoke produced the winning goal five minutes from the end when Akinbiyi made the most of a defensive mix-up between Drissa Diallo and Kelvin Davis to nip in and score.

Like the Town fan's returning home after the game Joe Royle was left wondering how Town had managed to lose this one:

"I'd have been disappointed with a point, but we're going home with nothing, I was disappointed with our performance in the second half, we just didn't keep the ball and we were poor at the back. We don't keep the ball well enough for a side which is supposed to be a passing side."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was, however, more upbeat about Stoke's performance:

"It was a cracking game. End-to-end stuff with chances for both teams. We have hit the bar twice, their keeper has made some great saves and we have deserved to just win it, although I know Ipswich will be disappointed and they showed they are a very good side. It is great that we have been able to send 23,000 fans home happy."

Monday, September 13

Town go top

Bent puts Town top

Darren Bent marked his 100th first team appearance for Town with an 83rd minute goal that earned the Blue's a deserved if scrappy 2-0 win over Millwall at FPR on Sunday, a win that takes BFJ's men to the top of the table. Pablo Counago, on as a second half sub for Shefi Kuqi, grabbed the second late on as Town moved onto 16 points, a point clear of Wigan.

Joe Royle praised Pablo Counago for the role he played in the win over the Lions:

"We needed some inspiration because Millwall were defending well and Pablo provided it. We thought if we could get the ball into his feet, he could hurt them but as it turned out, it was from a good old fashioned flick on that set up the first goal. He took his goal superbly as well and now I hope he pushes on and shows that he deserves a place in the team. He's a special talent, he's a strong for his size and can be a real potent force for us."

Sunday, September 12

Best start for 16 years

De Vos

If Town beat Millwall in the televised Coca-Cola Championship game at FPR this afternoon it will be the Blue's best start to a league season for 16 years and Joe Royle believes that much of the credit should be directed at Jason De Vos.

"We were just not getting our heads to the ball in the box last season when our defensive record was one of the worst in the division," BFJ told the EDP. "Jason De Vos was our number one target to put this right. And he has done everything that we expected from him. Apart from the Derby game we have defended well right through pre-season to the current time."

Billy Clarke and Dean Bowditch went head-to-head on Thursday night as the England U-19's beat their hosts, the Republic of Ireland, 2-0 in Cork, Town's U-18's drew 1-1 with Reading at Playford Road yesterday, Liam Craig scoring for the Blue's, and the club are giving fan's the chance to design next season's new home kit. Entrants have until October 10th to submit their ideas which will be judged BFJ, David Sheepshanks and the players.

Saturday, September 11

Sir Bobby comeback?

International goals 5 and 6 for Bent

Town striker Darren Bent once again came off the bench to score for the England U-21's in Tuesday nights 3-1 European Championship qualifier victory over Poland in Rybnik. He scored from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute to put England ahead and sealed the win with a headed goal seven minutes from time. For the second game running Ian Westlake missed out on a place in the final 16.

Jason De Vos, who scored for Canada in their 1-1 draw with Honduras at the weekend, unexpectedly missed out on Wednesday's World Cup qualifying clash with Costa Rica after it was revealed that a second booking received during a preliminary qualifier against Belize meant an automatic suspension for the Town central defender.

Without De Vos the Canucks lost 1-0, Paulo Wanchope scoring the winner for Costa Rica in the 46th minute, and now face an uphill battle to reach the final round of World Cup Qualifying.

And still on the subject of Canadian's, 17-year-old Canadian winger Jaime Peters looks set to sign for Millwall despite being offered a contract by the Blue's last month. Already a full international, Peters is expected to agree a move to the Lions despite the best efforts of De Vos and Canadian Coach, and former Portman Road favourite, Frank Yallop to persuade him to join Town.

Chairman David Sheepshanks is refusing to rule out the possibility of Sir Bobby Robson returning to the club in some capacity. Robson, who managed Town between 1969 and 1982 was sacked by Newcastle United just over a week ago. "No I am not ruling it out but I am not ruling it in either," Sheepshanks told the official site.

Sheepshanks also says that the club may consider a second share issue later in the season to raise funds to aid Joe Royle in strengthening the squad for a promotion push. "If we are high in the table later in the season, say at the midway point, then maybe that would be the moment to consider it seriously."

Head groundsman Alan Ferguson has won the Institute of Groundsmanship "Groundsman of the Year" award for the second time beating off competition from his counterparts at Hartlepool, Southampton, Mansfield and Dundee who were all runners up. Ferguson's team also picked up five divisional trophies.

Matt Richards (infected foot), Jason De Vos (knee) and Tommy Miller (ankle) have recovered from their various ailments and are included in Joe Royle's squad of 17 for the televised visit of Millwall tomorrow (kick-off 1pm).

Town squad: Scott Barron, Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Kelvin Davis, Drissa Diallo, Jason De Vos, Tony Dinning, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.

And lastly, the U-18's take on Reading at Playford Road today at noon.

Tuesday, September 7

Richards ready to go

Ready to go

Town and Watford fought out a goal-less, but nevertheless entertaining, nil-nil draw in their FA Premier Reserve League game at FPR last night. A major positive from the game was the performance of Matt Richards who had a solid game at the back and proved that he has recovered from the gashed foot that forced him to miss Town's last two games.

The England U-21 defender wants his place back in the first eleven but know's he will have a fight on his hands with Fabian Wilnis to reclaim the left-back slot: "It is good to have competition for places and a nice problem for the manager to have. Fabian has coped well and has not had too many problems on the left side but I want my place back. The injury cost me a place in the England side and Ipswich, which was unfortunate, but the important thing is to be back fit and, hopefully, I will be involved against Millwall on Sunday, then Stoke on Tuesday, and show how well I can play again."

Darren Bent and Ian Westlake are both in Poland with the England U-21 side for tonights European Championship game in Rybnik. Despite scoring his fourth goal in seven international appearances for England last Friday night Bent is unlikely to be in the starting line-up with Jon Stead and Carlton Cole currently performing well for club and country. Bent, however, is happy to sit on the bench and wait for his big chance: "I just have to bide my time" he told the EADT.

Graeme Souness is the new manager at Newcastle United after quitting his position at Blackburn Rovers yesterday. Souness has agreed terms with chairman Freddy Shepherd and will succeed Sir Bobby Robson at the helm of the Tyneside club. Toon fans are somewhat in shock at the appointment. Here are the thoughts of one fan pilfered from NUFC.com:

"As a Newcastle suppoter, I will continue to do exactly that - support the team, and that includes the manager. However, I don't remember ever being so disappointed at any time in the past. This is the most crystal clear step backwards, and the whole football world knows it. I can only find one positive comment on the internet about Souness, and it comes from a Blackburn fan who offers us hope with this gem, 'He's the best manager we've had since we won the league.' Bobby, you didn't deserve this. And neither do we."

Monday, September 6

De Vos goal not enough


Despite giving Canada the lead with a headed goal after 82 minutes, Jason de Vos and his team mates had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Honduras in Saturday's World Cup Qualifier in Edmonton, Alberta. Canada's hopes of making it through the group stage look doubtful but head coach and former Town defender Frank Yallop remains confident: "We need to win the next three of four," said Yallop. "We can still do it." De Vos should feature in the Canucks next game against Costa Rica on September 8th before returning to Ipswich for Town's home game against Millwall this Sunday.

Ipswich Town 1st, the Ipswich Town Supporters' Trust, are preparing a bid to secure a place on the Portman Road board. Solicitors have been engaged to prepare a motion to be tabled at the club's AGM this November.

Town's second string take on Watford at FPR tonight. Town lost their opening FA Premier Reserve league fixture against Crystal Palace at FPR two weeks ago, but gained a credible 1-1 draw away to Chelsea last week.

The U-18's beat their Leicester City counterparts 2-1 on Saturday. Leicester took the lead after 25 minutes but were reduced to 10 men just before the half-time break when Scott Lycett was dismissed for a professional foul. Blair Hammond levelled for Town after 64 minutes and Billy Clarke clinched all three points with a goal just before full-time.

Town youngster Darryl Knights was in the England U-17's squad which triumphed in the Pepsi Tournament that concluded at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium this weekend. England defeated Italy 3-1 on Wednesday, Russia 5-1 on Friday and Portugal 3-1 in Sunday's final.

Nottingham Forest will not be making a move for their former captain Chris Bart-Williams. Bart-Williams, released by Town during the summer, made more than 200 appearances for the East Midland's side between 1995 and 2002.

And lastly, Town's first goal against Wolves last weekend, originally credited to Darren Bent, has been ruled an own goal by the Football League. A spokesman for the League said: "We had to slow down the video dramatically and we have notified both clubs that it was an own goal. It looks as though the ball came off the Wolves No. 6 Jody Craddock and that is why it bobbled slowly over the line."

Sunday, September 5

Sheepshanks hits out


Chairman David Sheepshanks is furious with recent newspaper speculation linking Dean Bowditch with a move to Liverpool when the transfer window re-opens in January. Talking to the official site he said:

"I read reports that Dean was going to Liverpool and it's complete poppycock. It infuriates me to read some of this reporting. We all understand speculation sells newspapers, it's the way of the world but actually some of it has been dangerously close to inciting the fans to feel that decisions are being made against the best interests of the team. It's total rubbish."

Charlton striker Graham Stuart would be an Ipswich player by now if Town had accepted the Addicks GBP3.0Million bid for Darren Bent last week. BFJ wanted the 33-year-old as part of any potential deal.

"I would have wanted Graham Stuart on loan if any deal was going to go ahead," said Town's boss. "If we had lost a player from the squad I'd have wanted one in straight away. But as things stand, we are going into the next part of the season and we still have four front players, so there's no problem."

And on the subject of the rejected Bent bid, reports from London earlier this week suggested that Town wanted a minimum of GBP5.0Million for the U-21 international's signature. With the transfer window now closed that would suggest that Charlton were not prepared to go that high. For now at least.

In an effort to increase attendances at the Britannia Stadium Stoke City have slashed admission prices for future games. One of the first sets of visiting fans to benefit from the Staffordshire sides generosity will be Town's for the game on Tuesday, September 14th when Blue's supporters will pay just GBP5.00 to watch the match.

On Tuesday night Town's second string earned a point at Chelsea, in a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a last minute equaliser from Billy Clarke with Pablo Counago playing a major part in the build up to the goal. Chelsea had taken the lead in the first half but Steve McCall's young side came back strongly against a Chelsea side containing the likes of Parker, Babayaro and Huth.

And its been a busy week on the International front for various Town players:

Darren Bent scored his fourth goal for the English U-21's in their 2-0 win over Austria in Krems. Bent came off the bench in the 69th minute, replacing Blackburn's Jonathan Stead, and fired home in the 89th minute to wrap up the win for Peter Taylor's side. This was Bent's seventh appearance for England and he is gaining something of a reputation for late international goals having scored England's third against the Ukraine in the 90th minute of the game at Middlesbrough last month.

Striker Darryl Knights completed a hour for the England U-17's as they beat their Italian counterparts 2-1 at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium, Goalkeeper Lewis Price kept a clean sheet for the Welsh U-21's in their 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan in Baku and .....

Billy Clarke, scorer in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea's Reserves, has been named in the Republic of Ireland U-19's squad for their game against England in Cork next Friday, where he will face Dean Bowditch who was named in the England squad last week.

And lastly, former Town striker Alun Armstrong is training with Rotherham with a view to earning a permanent deal with the Millmoor side.


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