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Sunday, October 31
Town 3 Preston 0
Town moved into second place in the Coca-Cola Championship with a convincing 3-0 victory over Preston North End yesterday afternoon. Jim Magilton played in Shefki Kuqi for the opening goal a minute before half-time, Kuqi sliding the ball home from close in, and sixty-seconds later Tommy Miller also struck from close-range to double Town's advantage. And Darren Bent hit his fifth league goal of the season to seal victory in the 72nd minute with a well placed shot into the top right-hand corner of the Preston goal.
"We played some super stuff and, going by the statistics, we averaged a shot once every four minutes," said Joe Royle. "I was disappointed that one or two of the lads slackened off after we had scored our third goal, but I think 3-0 flattered Preston - perhaps I am being a bit miserly after we played so well and scored three times."
Of Shefki Kuqi, who scored his sixth of the season, BFJ said: "Shefki always gives 90 minutes of hard graft. He works for the team and is very popular with the other players. It is grand to see him doing so well."
Town's striker talks of the problem's he and his family faced when they left Albania, life in Finland and playing football in England, to the Independent's Paul Newman here.
Saturday, October 30
Today's Coca-Cola Championship game against Preston at FPR will be preceded by a musical tribute to the late John Peel who died earlier this week. The DJ and broadcaster's favourite song, Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, will be played before kick-off. Peel, who had adopted Town as his second team after his home club Liverpool, along with his wife Sheila were both season ticket holders at FPR.
Academy 'keeper Shane Supple is back in the first team squad for this afternoon's clash after damaging a toe in training a week ago Friday. However, Lewis Price will continue to deputise in goal for Kelvin Davis (back). Captain Jim Magilton, who was rested against Watford at Vicarage Road last Saturday, has recovered from a sore knee.
Squad: Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Aidan Collins, Pablo Counago, Jason De Vos, Drissa Diallo, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Scott Mitchell, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Sean Supple, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.
Joe Royle is unhappy with criticism in the local media that has been levelled at the side's defensive capabilities particularly as the squad have been working hard on improving that area of their game: "Too much is made of that. If you read our local paper in the morning we are a shambles defensively. More to the point we have conceded from set plays in four games from 15 which is a statistic that will tell you we ain't been that bad."
CEO Derek Bowden has added his performance bonus of GBP75,000 to the club's promotion war chest. Bowden, who was entitled to the bonus based on criteria set by the board's remuneration committee, has put the well-being of the team before his own personal needs.
Canadian international Sandro Grande has joined Town on trial for a week. The 27-year-old midfielder is an international team-mate of Jason De Vos. Grande helped Montreal Impact to the A-League Championship last month and has also played for Italian Serie 'A' side Brescia.
And lastly, Town midfielder Ian Westlake, has accepted a swimming challenge from British Olympian and FPR season ticket holder Karen Pickering. The 100 metre race will be shown on Sky TV this Sunday at 2pm. Westlake is an accomplished Water Polo player.
Thursday, October 28
BFJ celebrates two years at the helm
Carrow Road prepares to rival FPR as a major music venue
Joe Royle today celebrates two years as club manager and predicts that the sky is the limit for Town with its current crop of young starlets including England U-21 internationals Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Matt Richards and Ian Westlake: "You can only wonder at the promise the future holds for the club with its array of young stars."
Despite the constraints placed on him by the financial problems at FPR over the past two-years, Royle is happy that he made the move to Suffolk: "Ipswich is an enchanting club with wonderful supporters, who have a Corinthian approach to the game. I think we have given them entertaining football to watch. We are a passing team that scores goals and we play the game the right way."
BFJ's record at FPR so far: Played 107, won 50, drawn 26, lost 31, goals for 195 and goals against 154 (more of that here).
West Brom are refusing to comment on press speculation linking former Town and England manager Sir Bobby Robson with the vacant manager's seat at The Hawthorns. Robson has been made the bookies early favourite to succeed Gary Megson, following his sacking by the Midland club on Tuesday, although he has so far played this down saying: "As far as I'm concerned this is nothing more than conjecture." Sir Bobby played for the Baggies for six years between 1956 and 1962.
Norwich City CEO Neil Doncaster said the Canaries are ready to take on Town in the music concert stakes. Doncaster wants to follow the Blue's and carve out a share of the lucrative shows, which netted Town a six-figure profit from last summer's Sir Elton John gig.
Neil Diamond last week joined REM in next years line-up at FPR which in the past has also played host to the likes of Tina Turner. By contrast Carrow Road has yet to host a concert of any consequence, with the only regular large-scale non-football event at the ground being the Jehovah's Witnesses annual conference.
Wednesday, October 27
Town in the black/John Peel RIP
Town have announced operational profits just a year or so on from leaving administration. An operating profit of just under GBP1.75M was reported with overall losses, after tax, down from GBP7.75M to GBP480,000.
A parachute payment from the Premier League, GBP2.5Million raised through the recent share issue and a significant reduction in the player wage bill (down from GBP14.9M to GBP9.1M) have all helped the club move into the black.
Chairman David Sheepshanks said that the clubs commitment to reduce costs has paid off: "Sometimes people make a lot of the fact that we've got a small squad and we can't afford injuries or, God forbid, suspensions. But by the same token there are pluses - the team spirit, the dressing-room morale is very high, they all know we've got a chance and we're doing really well."
The current financial position has been achieved without the need to sell further players and meant that Town were in a strong enough position by August to turn down Charlton Athletic's GBP3.0M offer for Darren Bent.
"Our position remains constrained," continued Sheepshanks "and we have to manage our position going forward carefully. Promotion back to the Premier League is the true panacea in terms of restoring the club to full financial vitality. However, we can't gamble on that and Premiership status cannot be achieved at the risk of the club's continued financial viability."
On the back of that news CEO Derek Bowden has said that money is available for Joe Royle to venture into the transfer market if he wants too.
"The Board approved funds for Joe to go out and get a player some time ago. That could be for loan players, or even to buy at the right price. The frustrating thing, though, is that even though the money is there, the right players have not been available so far. I'm sure we will get a new player in sooner or later, but it has to be the right one."
Veteran BBC DJ John Peel has died at the age of 65 while on holiday in Peru. Peel, who lived just outside Stowmarket, was on a working holiday with his wife Sheila when he suffered a heart attack.
Peel, BBC Radio 1's longest-serving DJ, was a big football fan and despite being a diehard Liverpool supporter had adopted Town as his second club and along with his wife - a passionate Blue's fan - was a season ticket holder at FPR.
Peel was one of the first DJs to give exposure to punk, reggae and hip-hop, and was highly regard in the music industry around the world. In addition to his Radio One programmes, he could also be heard on the World Service, and most recently on Radio Four.
Tuesday, October 26
Reserves draw with Saints
Town's second string drew 0-0 with Southampton last night at FPR in an entertaining game played in front of 430 odd fans. 'Keeper Shane Supple was back in action after damaging a toe in training last Friday while 40-year-old goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes was among the named subs. Both sides created, and missed, a number of good chances in either half. Kenwyne Jones 40-yard first half shot was the Saint's most audacious goal attempt, while Antonio Murray hit the bar in the second half for Town and Aidan Collins was close with an overhead shot from just inside the box.
And that's it.
Monday, October 25
Price not to blame
Joe Royle is laying no blame at the feet of goalkeeper Lewis Price after his error led to Watford's equaliser on Saturday. Price was unable to hold Neil Ardley's fierce free kick and the ball dropped to Hameur Bouazza who scored from close range: "They just got to the ball first in the ensuing scramble. But we came back strongly and we were still looking for the winner at the end."
Captain Jim Magilton had no problem with BFJ's decision to leave him on the bench at Vicarage Road. His omission was largely to allow Town to continue were they had left off last Tuesday against Leicester with a three-man attack but also to allow the 35-year-old to recover further from his early season injury.
"We have a very good squad here. The manager decided to have a change around and that was fine by me. We finished strongly at Leicester with the three up front [Counago, Kuqi and Bent] and it looked perfect for us again against Watford when we went two-nil up."
Ian Westlake's return to form has justified his request to be left out of Peter Taylor's England U-21 squad for the recent games against Wales and Azerbaijan, says Town's young midfielder, who has netted twice in the last two games:
"I do feel the decision has been vindicated. Some people gave me a bit of stick for not going with England but I knew I was not playing at my best. I needed to stay at Ipswich and focus on regaining my form. I'm glad I did because I have felt much like my old self in the last couple of games."
Elsewhere, Town's U-18's lost 5-2 at Fulham on Saturday and Dean Bowditch will lead the reserves' attack against Southampton at FPR tonight.
Sunday, October 24
Watford 2 Town 2
Town's had to settle for their third straight draw at Vicarage Road yesterday after wasting a two-goal lead in rain sodden Hertfordshire. Having failed to capitalise on some excellent chances in the first half the Blue's came out firing on all cylinders in the second and deservedly took the lead after 50 minutes. Ian Westlake ran onto a long clearance from Lewis Price and placed his low shot with precision just inside the post. Town went further ahead just under quarter-of-an-hour later when Darren Bent struck home Westlake's cross.
The 4,000 travelling Town fan's could have been excused for thinking that was all three points in the bag but two lapses of concentration allowed Watford to steal a point. Unmarked Heidur Helguson pulled a goal back for the Hornets on 67 with a close range header and six minutes later the home side levelled when Price dropped Neil Ardley's long-range free-kick and Hameur Bouazza was on hand to fire home.
Two points dropped rather than one gained and Joe Royle was not happy:
"We had dominated the game and had the better chances but we got undone by two set-pieces. All we had to do was to mark the player at the corner but he gets up and scores an unchallenged header. Neil Ardley can deliver good crosses but this was not one of his better ones and we really should have defended that. If we had kept them out I think it would have been game over but the goal lifted them."
Elsewhere, James Hehir, Ipswich Borough Council's chief executive, has put the councils full support behind London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Stratford, the proposed site for the Games, is just an hour away from the town:
"Ipswich is the sporting capital of the Eastern Region and can help meet the training and accommodation needs of athletes in eight years' time. Our facilities are world class and getting better. We have a superb and expanding gymnastics centre, which was used this year by the Romanian British teams on their way to Athens, and we have an excellent athletics track at Northgate. Our own Karen Pickering trains at Crown Pools and we have a state-of-the-art football stadium at Portman Road."
FPR has been previously been mentioned as a possible venue for matches in the Olympic Football Tournament should London win the bid.
Saturday, October 23
Town light on 'keepers
Shane Supple will not be travelling to Watford today. Supple damaged a toe in training yesterday, leaving Lewis Price as Town's only fit goalkeeper. With Kelvin Davis still nursing a back injury Town had tried to register Andy Rhodes, 40-year-old goalkeeping coach, but missed the league registration deadline.
"Shane has cracked a toe playing for the reserves in midweek and we will see how he is on Monday," Joe Royle told the official site. "We couldn't register our goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes in time for Saturday but if the situation with Shane puts him out for a few weeks we will look at bringing someone else into the squad anyway."
BFJ is still unsure which of his strikers form the best combination up front. While Town have hit 26 league goals this season only half of those have come from the Blue's four recognised strikers Shefki Kuqi, Darren Bent, Pablo Counago and Dean Bowditch.
"At the moment all four strikers are involved but it is a case of finding a partnership. We still have not found a pairing that are screaming 'hey it has got to be us every week'. Through all that we continue to score goals, mostly a spread of goals rather than an individual top scorer, which is nice because if your leading scorer dries up then you have problems."
Jason De Vos says that his recent hectic schedule that saw him play two World Cup Qualifiers for Canada, followed by two league games in four days for Town, is taking its toll:
"It has been pretty busy over the last two weeks or so and the travelling has been tough. It has really hit me this week and certainly in the first-half at Leicester I could really feel the effects of the jet-lag. It was tough but hopefully with a couple of days rest now I will be fine for Saturday."
Elsewhere, Birmingham City are in talks to bring Shefki Kuqi's 21-year-old brother Njazi Kuqi to St Andrews on trial. Also a striker, Njazi has caught the attention Steve Bruce's scouts while playing for FC Lahti.
Friday, October 22
Neil Diamond will be appearing in concert at FPR on May 26th joining REM as the second major act in Town next summer. The American singer was watched by over 4 million fans at 461 gigs during the 1990's, and with his Australian and New Zealand venues for 2005 selling out in a matter minutes, Town are hoping for similar interest in his FPR gig.
Kelvin Davis is expected to resume training next week after injuring his back in the home game against Reading at the end of September. Lewis Price has been in excellent form since replacing him between the sticks, a fact that Davis has been quick to recognise:
"He has done fantastic since coming into the side and I am really chuffed for him, He had gained confidence from going away with Wales [U-21's] but it's important to be playing for your club as well. Now he's had that opportunity and done brilliantly. It's given him a real boost and confidence is 90 per cent of a 'keeper's game. Of course I have given him a few tips along the way and that has helped him enormously!"
Joe Royle has named his squad for the game at Watford on Saturday which includes Darren Bent who has shown no reaction to his hamstring injury. Bent was a surprise starter in the 2-2 draw at Leicester on Tuesday having been expected to be out of action for two weeks.
Traveling 16: Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Jason De Vos, Drissa Diallo, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Scott Mitchell, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Shane Supple, Ian Westlake and Fabian Wilnis.
Town fan Simon Copley has started an on-line petition in the hope of persuading former Kaiserslautern trainee, and David Johnson look-a-like, Jaime Peters sign for Town. Peters had a successful trial with Town during pre-season but has also attracted the attentions of a number of other clubs including Millwall. The Lions looked favourites to win the 17-year-old's signature, as he has family connections in the area, but the petition may cause a rethink says Barry MacLean the young Canadian's agent:
"It is heartening to hear from people who are committed to the game and have such a strong allegiance to their club. I am sure we will finalise all of the details in the next few weeks, so please be patient and there may be a chance that Jaime ends up in an Ipswich strip."
The petition can be found here.
And lastly, Town reserves lost 4-0 to Charlton at the Valley on Wednesday night, the home sides goals coming from Mark Ricketts, Francis Jeffers (2) and Jonatan Johannson.
Wednesday, October 20
Leicester 2 Town 2
Leicester's Matt Heath scored an 89th minute own goal equaliser to give Town a deserved point in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at the Walkers Stadium last night.
The goal may have denied Dave Bassett a win on his return as stand-in manager for the Foxes but had the referee taken a less "goalkeeper friendly" view of events two minutes earlier Town may have been celebrating a win themselves, but Shefki Kuqi was judged by Referee Leake to have fouled 'keeper Kevin Pressman in the process of netting from a yard out.
Leicester and Town managed a healthy twenty shots on target between them during an excellent ninety minutes that, as well as the four goals, produced some excellent saves from Pressman and Town's Lewis Price. Price pulling off three top draw saves in a frantic five minute spell just before the half-time break.
Town set the standard for the evening when they opened the scoring after less than a minute. Pressman could only parry Darren Bent's shot as far as Ian Westlake who lobbed the ball over two defenders and into the net.
Having squandered a couple of chances to go further ahead Town let the home side back into the game in the 34th minute when James Scowcroft found David Connoly in space on the right of the Ipswich area and his low shot just eluded the outstretched Price.
The Foxes went head on the hour mark when Chris Makin and Scowcroft combined to set-up Heath who beat Price with a low dive from just inside the penalty area.
Manager Joe Royle was less than happy with the decision to disallow Kuqi's goal: "The referee said he knocked it out of the goalkeeper's hands. But the goalkeeper wasn't holding the ball and certainly didn't have it under control. It was clearly a goal and it should have been allowed to stand and we could have gone on and won the game."
Derek Bowden, Town's CEO, has confirmed that key players will not have to leave Portman Road come the January Premiership transfer window:
"The facts are that we now don't need to sell. Naturally, every player has a price, but the manager has the knowledge that he can have his current squad at his disposal until next May. Joe Royle has the go-ahead to bring in one loan signing - or two depending on costs - and is targeting certain players. The frustrating thing is that in August there were players who were available and we could not act. Now we can, and these players are now unavailable."
One such player, Dean Bowditch, has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Liverpool. Reports suggest that the Anfield side have been monitoring his progress and will be making a move for the 18-year-old in the New Year:
"I really can't see me leaving here and if I do go it will be a few years yet. I like it here and enjoy it here. More than anything, I want to be here. I have been here a long time, since I was 10, and the way I look at it Ipswich have invested a lot of time and effort on me, and now I am paying them back."
And lastly, Jason De Vos, who is currently considering his future in international football, following Canada's elimination from the World Cup last week, has withdrawn from the Canuck's squad for their final qualifier against Guatemala on November 17th.
Tuesday, October 19
Bertie Bassett's Back
Three years ago this month Dave Bassett made his managerial home debut for Leicester in the Foxes Premiership fixture with Liverpool, and tonight he makes his second home debut, this time in a temporary joint-management role with Howard Wilkinson [enough to put the frighteners up the locals by all accounts]. Town have been Leicester's bogey side over recent years (four wins and a draw in the last six meetings), having mostly recently beaten the Midlands side 6-1 at Portman Road and 2-1 at the Walkers Stadium in the 2002/03 season.
Bassett made wholesale changes to the Leicester side that took on Coventry at the weekend with varying input from the three former Town players in the squad. Chris Makin played the full ninety minutes, James Scowcroft was introduced as a sub half-way through the second period and Matt Elliott remained on the bench throughout.
Darren Bent who picked up a hamstring injury while on international duty with the England U-21 side could make a quicker that expected return to first team action at Leicester. Talking to the Evening Star BFJ said: "Benty has an outside chance of making it. He was much better yesterday [Sunday] when he came in for treatment. He has to be able to train with us today [Monday] if he's going to have any chance of playing at Leicester. It's an outside chance but, nevertheless, it's a chance."
Jason De Vos is giving serious thought to his future in international football following Canada's exit from the World Cup last week. De Vos, who captained the Canuck's in the 3-1 defeat by Costa Rica last Wednesday, says he is still down about the result:
"Since I was a young lad it has always been my dream to play in the World Cup finals and now I have to accept that it's not going to happen and that's very disappointing. I will be 36 by the time the next World Cup comes along and at that age, it's very unlikely that I will be playing international football. "So I have some big decisions to make about my future with Canada. I will sit down with my family and discuss the situation and also speak to Frank Yallop [Canadian Head Coach]."
And lastly, Town fans have another chance to put their questions to David Sheepshanks and the Board in the latest of a series of face-to-face meetings this Thursday evening at the Centre Spot Restaurant.
Monday, October 18
Shefki's conscience clear
Shefki Kuqi is happy that he and his team mates did the right thing in playing on despite Burnley's Mo Camara "appearing" to be injured in the visitors box when Town equalised on Saturday. Kuqi played the ball around the prone defender before supplying the cross which led to Matt Richards 90th minute goal. Burnley players where arguing that the ball should have been put out of play, so that Camara could receive treatment, although strangely enough he was standing by the time the ball hit the back of the net.
"If I really thought he was genuinely injured I would have kicked the ball out at that point even though we were in a good position to score. But I knew he had not been hurt in my original challenge, even though we may have collided a little. They were time-wasting at every opportunity and that was no different. I had won the header cleanly and I couldn't believe it didn't go in. Then he stayed down but when we carried on and the ball was in the box he got up which would indicate there was nothing wrong with him."
BFJ was quite happy with his player's reaction too: "I thought it was quite fitting that we scored our equaliser while one of their players was feigning injury again. So, sometimes there is justice."
Darren Bent is in the squad for tomorrow night's game at Leicester having missed Saturday's 1-1 draw with a hamstring injury. Fabian Wilnis is available for selection again having seen out his suspension for the red-card he received against Plymouth and Jason de Vos is likely to be fit despite having played with a hairline toe fracture against Burnley.
Lastly, Town's U-18's, heavily understrength due to first team call-ups, lost 1-0 to Southampton at Playford Road Saturday morning.
Sunday, October 17
Town 1 Burnley 1
Town staged a dramatic comeback to salvage a point and could have taken all three but where twice denied by the woodwork in time added on at FPR yesterday. Matt Richards scored for Town in the 90th minute with a curling strike from the edge of the box - to equalise Blake's 19th minute goal for Burnley - and first Tommy Miller and then Pablo Counago both struck the goal frame in an exciting end to an otherwise insipid encounter. It would have been somewhat ironic to have scored the winner in the five minutes added on for time wasting by the Claret's but Town had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
BFJ, along with the Portman Road crowd, was less than impressed with the visitors negative tactics: "Burnley can play it any way they want, it is not my business. I thought there were eight minutes wasted, let alone five. It wasn't always pretty but we kept going and could've won it in the end. I am pleased with the effort the lads showed although we have often played better and shown more guile. Sides are going to come to try to stop us playing and Burnley came here not to lose and nearly won it."
At least John McGreal enjoyed his return. The former Blue's central defender was full of praise for the reception he received from the home fans prior to kick-off: "It was great to come back to the Club and the reception I received from the fans was brilliant. It really meant something to me to hear them cheer my name. It was touching and I didn't expect it to be honest. I had five great years at Ipswich and it's a terrific football club."
Elsewhere, former Town 'keeper Matteo Sereni is being linked with a move from Lazio to Inter as a replacement for the Milan side's current No. 1 Francesco Toldo.
Saturday, October 16
Patience the key
Joe Royle has asked for patience on the field and in the stands as Town take on the meanest defence in the Championship at FPR this afternoon. Burnley have conceded just one goal away from home this season, keeping clean sheets at leaders Wigan and third place Reading in the process. In addition to John McGreal who left Ipswich for Turf Moor during the summer the Clarets defence has also been boosted by the arrival of Frank Sinclair and 'keeper Danny Coyne, both from Leicester.
"They have a very solid backline and it's important that we show patience on the pitch and in the crowd," says BFJ. "We have got to keep the ball and find a way to prise them open but it might take time. It was the same against Millwall when we had to wait until the last 10 minutes before scoring twice."
Jason De Vos (fractured toe) is the latest injury concern, Darren Bent (hamstring) is out for a week to ten days and Lewis Price once again steps in to replace 'keeper Kelvin Davis (back). 18-year-old defender Aidan Collins is included in the squad as possible cover for De Vos and is joined by fellow Academy team mates Antonio Murray, Scott Mitchell and goalie Shane Supple.
Town from: Dean Bowditch, Aidan Collins, Pablo Counago, Jason De Vos, Drissa Diallo, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Scott Mitchell, Antonio Murray, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Shane Supple and Ian Westlake.
Friday, October 15
Joe's a benchmark
Inspired by his team mates exploits for Finland, Canada, England and Wales over the past ten days (and perhaps the fact that his nation tops their World Cup Qualifying Group), Drissa Diallo is looking for a way back into international football with his native Guinea:
"It is a dilemma for me. I love playing for my national team and it is a great honour. The manager [Patrice Neveu] wants me to play and I would love to play in the World Cup. The fixtures are a lot better now as Championship games are not played when international games are on, whereas it just used to be Premiership games that were called off."
Diallo's former side Burnley are in town tomorrow afternoon and the Claret's manager, Steve Cotterill, has been saying some nice things about BFJ ahead of the game:
"Joe's done a terrific job wherever he's been. Managing a thousand games is a remarkable feat, especially with the way things are these days. He's doing a fantastic job at Ipswich and he's certainly one you admire and aspire to. He's a benchmark. He's a good, honest chap and I'm very happy for him."
Meanwhile, BFJ has been bemoaning the loss during the summer of John McGreal to the Turf Moor outfit, saying that of the players that left during the close season McGreal was the biggest loss:
"I am not surprised that John has done well at Burnley because he's a good player. I never wanted to lose him and of the eight players that left the Club in the summer he was my biggest regret. With Jason De Vos coming in and Richard Naylor here as well, we had options at the back to play two or perhaps all three of them and I felt they would give us a basis to build on for this season. It didn't work out with John leaving and that was a blow to me."
Darren Bent and Kelvin Davis are both big doubts for the tomorrow's game. Bent returned from England U-21 duty with a tight hamstring and Davis has not fully recovered from the back injury picked up in Town's last home game against Reading two weeks ago. Lewis Price is the most likely starter between the sticks and will be looking to build on the excellent performance he gave in the Blue's 2-1 victory at Coventry.
Cover for Bent is a priority for BFJ and he has been chasing up on inquries he has made about bringing in loan cover: "Bearing in mind Darren's situation I have been making a few calls to see if the players we have asked about before are now available. If they are not, then we will go with what we have against Burnley on Saturday and there will be no excuses."
And lastly, plans for a testimonial for Richard Naylor are underway for next season, which will be the striker-cum-defender's tenth with the club.
Thursday, October 14
World Cup defeats for De Vos and Kuqi
Jason De Vos and Canada lost 3-1 at home to Costa Rica last night to end the slight hopes they had of moving on to the final stage of qualification for the 2006 World Cup. Despite taking a 12th minute lead through Rosario the Canucks succumbed to goals from Wanchope (49), Sunsin (81) and Hernandez (87). "It's a very disappointing loss, " said National Coach, and former Town defender, Frank Yallop. "We are now out of the World Cup. " The Canadian's final game in the semi-final group stage is against Guatemala on November 17th.
Shefki Kuqi and Finland's chances of qualification are in a slightly healthier state, despite their 3-1 loss to Holland in the Amsterdam Arena. Town's striker played the full 90 minutes in a game that saw Tainio give Finland the lead after 14 minutes. Holland equalised through Sneijder (39) and Manchester United's Van Nistelrooij secured the win for the Oranje with strikes in the 41st and 63rd minutes. Finland maintain second spot in Group 1.
Town captain Jim Magilton has called on Pablo Counago to let his football do the talking following his spat with BFJ earlier in the week. "The players all know what Pablo is capable of here," he says over on the official site. "He is a quality player with so many good things about his game and the gaffer has made it pretty clear that if he is firing on all cylinders then he will be in the team. Simple as that."
Kelvin Davis was back in training yesterday looking to rebuild his fitness following the back injury he picked up in the Reading home game two weeks ago. "Kelvin will be back in training today with a view to joining the squad tomorrow, when we hope he will be able to do something more strenuous," said BFJ. "He will be concentrating today on a slow build-up and we will have to wait and see how that goes before knowing whether or not he can step it up tomorrow." Lewis Price, back from his adventures with the Welsh U-21's, will look to continue the form he showed in the Coventry game, and the Welsh internationals against England and Poland, against Burnley on Saturday should the need arise.
And lastly, a medal won by an un-named member of the late Dale Roberts 2001/02 FA Premier Reserve League (South) Championship side is up for auction at Sotherby's on November 2nd.
Wednesday, October 13
Off his trolly?
A late equaliser by Poland's Pawel Brozek denied Lewis Price and the Welsh U-21's victory in the European Championship qualifier in Swansea last night. Price made a string of excellent saves in the 2-2 draw which leaves Wales forth in Group 6. England's U-21's, minus the injured Darren Bent, drew 0-0 with Azerbaijan in Baku in their Euro qualifier.
Shefki Kuqi is in action again for Finland tonight as they face Holland in the Amsterdam Arena. Kuqi, who scored twice in the Finn's 3-1 win World Cup qualifying win over Armenia on Saturday, is delighted that he changed his mind about "retiring" from international football. Kuqi had previously said he would not play again for his adopted country while coach Antii Muurinen was still in charge of team affairs, but had a change of heart when Birmingham striker Mikkel Forssell suffered a long-term knee injury.
Town and Canada captain Jason De Vos faces a make-or-break game in Vancouver tonight as the Canucks take on Costa Rica. Canada currently occupy last place in their World Cup qualifying group with just two points from four games and must win their remaining two games, against Costa Rica tonight, and Guatemala on November 17th, to stand any chance of advancing:
"There is no room for anything other than a win, even a draw means we are out. We are capable of winning both games but we will need decent officials and to make sure we do not defend naively, as we did last weekend when we should have hung on to get a deserved win in Honduras."
Joe Royle has branded Pablo Counago as "deluded" for the Spaniard's claims that he is being left out of the Town side because of a personal differences. The striker suggested his absence from the first-team was "not to do with football" but BFJ has been quick to refute the allegations.
"I cannot allow Pablo to make nonsense statements in public without having to respond. I honestly think he is deluded. I repeat: if Pablo works hard and plays well, there is no problem and he will be in the team. There is absolutely no question of there being a bias against him. Pablo's a nice boy with a lot of talent but I don't know what he is thinking with this latest statement."
Young Town defender Gerard Nash, who has undergone two cruciate ligament operations in the past three years, should come through his latest injury scare unscathed. Nash injured his knee in the 1-0 win over Arsenal's U-18's on Saturday but, according to Physiotherapist Dave Williams "the specialist has looked at the cruciate ligament and that seems fine which is obviously good news for Gerard and the Club."
Elsewhere, having secured a deal with American Band REM to appear at FPR on July 8th next year Town are believed to be close to clinching deals with Bon Jovi and singer-songwriter Neil Diamond to also appear on the hallowed turf next summer.
Tuesday, October 12
Counago too late
Pablo Counago scored for the second time in a week for the reserves but Town's second string still went down 2-1 to Norwich at FPR. The Canaries took the lead through Danny Crow after half-an-hour and doubled their tally on 48 when Jason Shacknell netted. Counago sparked a mini-revival with 7 minutes to go when he scored with ease from six-yards but the visitors held on for a deserved win in front of 1,314 fans.
Darren Bent looks likely to miss the England U-21's European Championship Qualifier with Azerbaijan in Baku this afternoon but should have recovered from a hamstring pull in time for Saturday's home game with Burnley. With Aston Villa's Carlton Cole still out injured this would have been Bent's opportunity for a first start for his country having previously made seven appearances as a sub.
Lewis Price, who picked up a slight knee injury in last Friday's game against England, will start between the sticks for the Welsh U-21's against Poland in Swansea this evening.
Town are giving a trial to 16-year-old striker Charlie Sheringham, the son of former England international Teddy. Sheringham Junior featured in the U-18's 1-0 victory at Arsenal over the weekend and is looking for a new club having previously been on the books at Millwall. The youngsters victory at Arsenal on Saturday was sealed by a second-half goal from Danny Haynes.
Elsewhere, a new survey by Observer sport reveals England's crappiest football ground's as voted for by 20,000 football supporters. All the usual suspects are there, Fratton Park, Millmoor, Ninian Park, etc., but making a surprise entry is Stamford Bridge (well actually not much of a surprise I guess having attempted to watch several games there from the awful away section).
Monday, October 11
Canaries in town tonight
Town's reserves take on Norwich City for the first time in four years tonight at Portman Road. The respective second XI's last met in the Football Combination before first Town, and then more recently Norwich, were elevated to FA Premier Reserve League status.
The Blue's currently occupy bottom place in the division having drawn two and lost two in their opening four fixtures.
Chris Hogg was an unused sub in the England U-20's 1-0 victory over Holland in Huddersfield yesterday.
And that's it!
Sunday, October 10
Shefki hits World Cup brace
Two goals from Shefki Kuqi helped Finland to a 3-1 victory over Armenia in Tampere yesterday. Kuqi, in the starting eleven as a replacement for long term injury victim Mikael Forssell, scored his first after eight minutes. Eremenko hit Finland's second after half-an-hour before Armen Shakhgeldyan reduced the lead a few minutes later. Town's striker secured the home sides third win in WC Qualifying Group 1 three minutes from the end.
Jason De Vos captained Canada to a 1-1 draw in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in front of a crowd 45,000. Atiba Hutchinson had put the Canucks a goal-up after 71 minutes but as with the earlier meeting of the two sides in Edmonton in September the Honduran's scored a late equaliser. Canada must now win both of their remaining two games to have any chance of moving onto the final round of WC qualifying.
And lastly, former Town reserve star Amir Karic won his 52nd cap for Slovenia in their surprise 1-0 home victory over Italy. Slovenia now top World Cup Qualifying Group 5 after 3 games. Karic is currently plying his trade with Torpedo-Metallurg in the Russian Premier League.
Saturday, October 9
Bent hits number seven
Darren Bent once again came off the bench to score for the England U-21's in their 2-0 victory over Wales at Blackburn's Ewood Park last night. Town's striker didn't have to wait quite as long to make an appearance as in other games coming on for the injured Carlton Cole in the 19th minute. His 73rd minute goal, headed home following a free kick, was Bent's seventh in nine U-21 appearances.
Lewis Price, lining up in goal for the Welsh, put in another solid performance despite being beaten by James Milner's opener just after half-time and then by Town team mate Bent: "I'm gutted that Darren scored and we lost. When he came on and I managed to turn one round the corner I was hoping it was going to be my night and I would be able to keep him out. But he has an amazing goalscoring record and is a really tricky player. He is a good in the air and there was nothing I could do with the goal."
Cole's injury will mean he misses Tuesday's game against Azerbaijan so Bent is likely to get his first England start.
Joe Royle has been quick to play down reports linking Town with a move for Palace striker Dougie Freedman. BFJ who watched the Glaswegian in action for the Eagles in their reserve match against Coventry on Wednesday night said:
"I have said I am keen to bring in one or two players on loan and that still remains the case, but there is no specific target. It will depend on our needs. There isn't a lot wrong with the team at the moment - it's like the Americans say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'".
Elsewhere, American Band REM have been lined up for a concert at Portman Road next year. Tickets have already gone on sale for the expected sell-out concert on Friday July 8th.
Friday, October 8
Bent on the bench again
England U-21 coach Peter Taylor has named Jonathan Stead in the starting line-up for tonight's European U21 Championship qualifier against Wales in Blackburn, which means that Darren Bent will once again be amongst the subs. Bent scored twice in the U-21's last outing, a 2-1 victory in Poland, while Stead has yet to score at any level this season. Bent will be hoping to continue his recent goal scoring record for England against Ipswich team mate Lewis Price who will line-up in goal for the Welsh hoping to keep his second clean sheet in the tournament.
Dougie Freedman has emerged as a loan target for Town after being watched by Joe Royle playing for Crystal Palace reserve's against Coventry on Wednesday night. According to the EADT Town's manager was taking a look at the 30-year-old Glaswegian and hopes to have secured his services in time for next weekend's home game against Burnley.
"I was at the game but that is all I'm prepared to say", said BFJ. "Nothing will be happening this week and nothing is signed or agreed for next week. There is no urgency. There is nothing wrong with the team at the moment so it's not a matter of fixing anything. If we get someone in they have to be as good, if not better than we already have as I'm not bringing any one in to be a back-up."
'Keeper Kelvin Davis will not risk aggravating the back injury picked up in the home game against Reading ten days ago. Town's number one told the official site:
"My back is improving day by day but I am not rushing it. I have been doing some training work but have not been putting too much strain on my back. It's a case of working with the physio staff and taking it one day at a time."
And lastly, Dean Bowditch was pleased with his and England's performance in Wednesday nights 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic U-19's at Carrow Road:
"I was pleased, both with my own and the team's performance. We were annoyed with the goal we let in because it was a set-piece and we hardly ever concede from set-pieces. My pass to Lee Holmes which resulted in our goal was just like the one I scored against Coventry; a long ball from me over on the right and all Lee had to do was tap it in. It's a lot harder in the middle because as a wide man you have more space but I like to think that I'm versatile and the manager, Martin Hunter, can put me where he wants."
Thursday, October 7
Dean silences the giblet pulpers
Town striker Dean Bowditch put in an excellent display for the England U-19's at Carrow Road last night in the 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic. Despite being jeered by the home crowd during player introductions the Ipswich sixth-form pupil won over the majority of the 20,000 crowd with a fine performance that included setting up Derby's Lee Holmes for the equaliser in the 79th minute.
Joe Royle believes Bowditch's future could be as a deep-lying centre-forward a role in which Dennis Bergkamp is employed at Highbury:
"He has the pace and enough talent to play wide. But I see his best position as down the middle, just off the main player in a similar role to the one Dennis Bergkamp operates in for Arsenal."
Canadian youngster Jaime Peters will decide which club to join within the week, according to his agent Barry McLean, after enjoying successful trials with a number of clubs including Manchester United, Derby County, Millwall and Town. Millwall look the most likely choice as Peters has family in London, but his agent told Sky Sports:
"We will be sitting down with Jaime and his family to assess his situation over the next few weeks. Right now, Jaime is with the Canadian team in Florida and we won't deal with the situation until he has finished World Cup qualifying duty with the squad."
And lastly, Town's reserves lost 3-2 to Leicester City last night at Kettering Town's Rockingham Road ground, with Billy Clarke and Pablo Counago netting for the Blue's.
Wednesday, October 6
Dean at the wrong end of the A140
Dean Bowditch will be in action tonight for the England U-19's as they take on the Czech Republic at Carrow Road. Bowditch, who made his debut for Town and laid on both goals in the 2-0 victory at Norwich in 2003 hopes that the locals will put club rivalries aside for the evening and support him as an England player.
"Carrow Road is a special ground for me as that is where I made my debut and we did well that day. This is England so I hope the Norwich people will forget all about the Ipswich thing for 90 minutes. The rivalry is intense, and I understand that, but I will be trying to ignore it and concentrate on helping England win. It should be a fantastic atmosphere, it is a sell-out, which is a great effort and I'm sure the crowd will back the team completely."
Ian Westlake's earlier season form has concerned Joe Royle to the point where he asked England U-21 coach Peter Taylor to omit him from the squad for the upcoming games against Wales and Azerbaijan. Town's manager would like to see an improvement from the midfielder - Blue's Player of the Year just a few months ago - before he is considered for England selection again.
"It is just a reaction to the first season. There is no real reason for it, perhaps some teams are used to him now, but it will come back for him. He is as fit as he was, sometimes these things are just about instinct and he will find his form again one day just like that."
Lewis Price is now a serious rival for Kelvin Davis' and a starting place in the first eleven says Joe Royle:
"I see Lewis as a top goalkeeper in his own right, not just a stand-in. His stock is growing all the time. At the start of the season I had a short list of keepers I was considering to provide cover for Kelvin - but I've torn it up now."
And lastly, Town's second string are in action tonight as they take on their Leicester counterparts in Kettering.
Tuesday, October 5
Two million should do it
GBP2Million could be enough to secure promotion to the Premiership says Joe Royle with Town now handily placed a quarter of the way through the season:
"Anyone who can spend GBP2 million in this division should go up. There is not the highest quality in this division that I have ever seen but the spending power is very powerful if you have it. You saw last season with Norwich and West Brom who had it what the difference was and anyone who can make that difference this season can go up."
Despite Lewis Price's solid performances in the last two games - including the excellent penalty save in Sunday's game at Highfield Road - he is still expected to go out on loan to gain further first team experience when Kelvin Davis returns to full fitness:
"Lewis did fine but when Kelvin is right he will play and the offer for Lewis to go out on loan still stands for him to have experience," said BFJ. "But no more than a loan because he has a bright future."
Elsewhere, not only did Alun Armstrong notch a hat-trick for his new side Darlington over the weekend but a rather svelte Martijn Reuser also hit three for his new side Willem II in their 3-2 victory over Vitesse Arnhem.
And lastly, with six Town players representing various countries at a variety of venues over the next week, here's a handy chart showing their whereabouts:
Monday, October 4
Town move into second
Town moved into second spot in the Coca-Cola Championship after a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Coventry at Highfield Road. Matthew Mills own goal three minutes from the ended gave Town a fortuitous but well earned victory puts them level with leaders Wigan on 24 points. Dean Bowditch put Town ahead in the 70th minute when he hammered home Darren Bents cross at the far post but Patrick Suffo, just on as a sub for the home side, equalised for City seven minutes later. Lewis Price had earlier saved a Stern John penalty after Tim Sherwood was upended in the area by Drissa Diallo.
"We defended well as a unit and they had very few chances. Lewis did well with the penalty save and Darren Bent made the first goal for Bowditch down the right flank. It's nice to go into the break on top of the League with Wigan - I don't count goal difference!" said BFJ.
Shefki Kuqi is back in the Finnish squad for their World Cup Qualifying games against Armenia next Saturday and Holland, in the Amsterdam Arena, the following Tuesday. Kuqi has been recalled to the squad following a long term injury to Birmingham City's Mikael Forssell.
And lastly, Alun Armstrong hit a hattrick for his new club Darlington in their 4-0 home victory over Southend United on Saturday.
Sunday, October 3
Off the back of a lorry
Joe Royle, who reached the 1000 game mark as a club manager in Tuesday's game with Reading, admits that the years have flown since he first took the helm at Oldham over 20 years ago, but can still clearly remember his less than auspicious arrival at Boundary Park in 1982, where he literally fell off the back of a lorry.
"I was travelling up from Norwich to be introduced to the Press when my car broke down. I thumbed a lift and that was how I arrived at Boundary Park. You can tell I'm a Liverpudlian. Not exactly the sort of impression you want to make on your first day in a new job, is it?"
Talking about his management career to Manchester Online BFJ says of talks about his retirement: "I don't know when I'll retire. It will be tempting to stay if I can steer Ipswich to the Premiership, but I'll wait until then before deciding - and when I do it will be final."
Town's manager is expecting a tough contest at Coventry today in the Sky televised Coca-Cola Championship game at Coventry. Coventry lost heavily at QPR (4-1) last weekend and have not won in their last five league outings but BFJ is expecting no favours from Sky Blue's manager Peter Reid:
"There is no way that Coventry are a bad side, despite their recent run, and we are expecting nothing less than a tough game. Peter and I get on really well and whatever happens in the game I'll have a glass of wine with him afterwards. We go back a long way - to when I was managing Oldham and he was at Manchester City."
Scott Barron, back in contention following a groin injury, takes Tony Dinning's place in the travelling squad, which is:
Scott Barron, Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Pablo Counago, Kelvin Davis, Drissa Diallo, Jason De Vos, Kevin Horlock, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, Matt Richards, Jerome Sobers and Ian Westlake.
A decision on whether Kelvin Davis will start will be made when the team arrive at Highfield Road. A precautionary X-Ray has revealed that the back injury that forced him to miss the second half of the 1-1 draw with Reading in midweek is not likely to be a long term one. Speaking of the incident that caused his substitution Town's keeper said:
"I went up for a routine cross and came down hard and jarred my back. I have strained a ligament in my lower back but it is something which is easily rectified. I didn't feel comfortable at half time and rather than just play on I was honest with the Gaffer. It was totally the right thing to do because I didn't want to go out there with a slight injury and cause, or be the cause, of a problem."
Elsewhere, former Town and England captain Terry Butcher says that he is modelling his Motherwell side on the 1981 UEFA Cup Winning Blue's.
"It was a very good formula at Ipswich, with a blend of older and younger players. There was a conveyor belt of talent there and we have young players coming through who are very similar. And if we could have the same sort of success that Ipswich did, or lay the same sort of foundations, I would be absolutely delighted. It was a good winning formula."
And lastly, Town's U-18's drew 0-0 with Chelsea yesterday morning at Playford Road.
Saturday, October 2
On loan midfielder Tony Dinning will not be offered a longer deal by Town. Joe Royle broke the news to the Wigan man after training yesterday:
"I have had to tell Tony that we are not in a position to offer him a contract to extend his stay with us. He has done reasonably well for us but we must look to the future. There is money available to bring in one player on loan for a month and I can't use that on Tony."
The home league game with Stoke City on Tuesday December 28th, will be shown live on Sky. The game, which was originally scheduled to kick-off a 3pm, has been resceduled for a 12.15pm start.
Kelvin Davis is Town's only doubt ahead of Sunday's game at Coventry City. Town's number one was substituted at half-time in Tuesday's home draw with Reading after aggravating a back injury. Although Davis's injury has improved since then Lewis Price is ready to take over again.
Lastly, the U-18's are in action this morning at Playford Road where Chelsea are the visitors.
Friday, October 1
Reserves beaten by Arsenal
Town's reserves lost 2-1 to their Arsenal counterparts at Barnet's Underhill ground last night. Owusu-Abeyi opened the scoring for the home side in the 15th minute. Town then levelled through a Pablo Counago penalty after 24 minutes, the striker having had won the spot kick after being fouled by Djourou who was sent-off for the challenge. O'Donnell scored the winner for the Gunners four minutes into the second half.
Chris Bart-Williams has signed a two-year deal with Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia. Bart-Williams who was released by Town in the summer said: "This is a great opportunity for me and I want to help Apoel become the first Cypriot club to reach the group stages of the Champions League."
Torquay United have signed former academy winger Stuart Boardley on a three-month contract. Boardley did well enough on his debut against Yeovil recently for manager Leroy Rosenior to offer him a short term deal at Plainmoor, where he had been on trial for the last two weeks.
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