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Monday, January 31

Joe the main attraction

"The main attraction for me coming to Ipswich was the chance to work with Joe [Royle] again," says loan signing David Unsworth. "I know Joe and Willie Donachie very well from our days together at Everton and had great times under their management. They know me inside out and hopefully we can enjoy our time together here at Ipswich as well."

The 31-year-old defenders primary goal is to help win Town promotion back to the top flight and if that is achieved he would not rule out the possibility of joining the Blue's on a more permanent basis. "It is out of my hands what happens at the end of the season. It is down to Portsmouth to a great extent and we'll look at it again in the summer. For the time being I am here to help Ipswich into the Premiership."

Canada made it three-wins-out-of-three in the CONCACAF U20 Qualifying Tournament with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in Honduras on Sunday. Jamie Peters played the second 45 minutes of a game that saw the young Canucks receive a standing ovation from the home crowd. "To my knowledge no Canadian team has come into Central America and won all three of its games. It is truly a remarkable achievement but we must start to focus our attention on our preparation for Holland," said Canadian Head Coach Dale Mitchell. The finals of the World Youth Championships take place between June 10th and July 2nd.

The England U-17's, for whom Darryl Knights played the opening 40 minutes, lost the final game of the Algarve tournament 2-1 to Norway on Saturday, but still took 2nd place overall. Next up for the young Lions are the European U-17 Championship qualifiers in March which pit England against Ireland, Serbia & Montenegro and Northern Ireland.

Leicester City's Matt Elliott, who played 12 games for Town while on loan at FPR last season, has been forced to retire from the game with a knee injury. The 36-year-old joined the Foxes during Martin O'Neill's reign as manager and played almost 300 games for the club.

And lastly, Pablo Counago, Dean Bowditch and Matt Richards have all been named in tonight's Reserve team squad for the visit of Coventry City. This is the second time in just under a week that the two sides have met with the Sky Blue's winning 1-0 at Nuneaton Borough FC's Manor Park ground last Tuesday.

Sunday, January 30

Going up and staying up

BFJ is the man to get Town promoted back to English football's top flight and keep them there, says David Sheepshanks. "We appreciate that there is still much work to be done, but we have the right man at the helm to lead us back to the Premiership - and to keep us there. We are now approaching the business end of the season and we are keeping our feet on the ground. The rewards on offer will escape no one."

The senior squad are back from their short break in Tenerife and resumed training yesterday ahead of next Saturday's Championship game at Sheffield United. With the recent addition of David Unsworth and Jimmy Juan BFJ is now happy with the size of his squad and faces the final third of the season in confident mood. "We know there is a long way to go yet but we're averaging two points a game, have only lost five matches all season and are top of the Championship on merit. We've added a couple of players over the past week as well with David Unsworth and Jimmy Juan coming in so we are no longer light on numbers. We'll give it a real go and if we can maintain that two points per game average, we'll be right up there at the end of the season."

Soon to be a Blue Jamie Peters and the Canadian U-20's booked a place at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships in Holland with a 1-0 win over Honduras on Friday night. The win confirms the Canucks as CONCACAF group B qualifying group winners with one game left to play. Peters played the first 45 minutes before being subbed and could gain a further cap in the final game against Mexico later today.

Bobby Petta has been in talks with Darlington over a possible move to the League Two side. Petta's contract with Celtic was terminated by mutual consent last month and he has since been linked with Bolton, Wigan and Leeds as he looks to hook up with another club. Another former Town man Alun Armstrong joined the Quakers back in September where he has netted 10 times in 23 appearances.

And lastly, the home game with Leicester City on February 12th will go ahead as planned after a late James Scowcroft goal gave the Foxes a 2-1 win in their FA Cup 4th round tie at Reading yesterday. A replay between the two sides would have taken place on the 12th with the league fixture postponed until later in the season.

Friday, January 28

Perfect Harmony?

The FA's latest gaffe saw the publication of a DVD claiming to feature the greatest post-war England internationals, without mention of a single black player. Yes, no John Barnes, no Ian Wright, etc., etc. Since Viv Anderson's England debut in 1978, 48 black players have represented England, the most recent being Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips. Ignoring the latest faux-pas from the FA, English football has made huge advances in eradicating racism in the last twenty-years, and with the exception of France, the English senior side regularly contains more black players than any other European nation. What of our own Club? While it would be naive to suggest that Club and fan's are squeaky-clean, race has never appeared to be an issue at FPR. Ipswich born Johnny Miller became the first black to play for Town in a home fixture with Coventry City in October, 1969. A further thirty-two black and Asian players have represented Town since, a list that contains some memorable names:

Nabil Abidallah, Samassi Abou, Dalien Atkinson, David Barnes, Chris Bart-Williams, Darren Bent, Marcus Bent, Titus Bramble, Michael Cole, Drissa Diallo, Louie Donowa, Jason Dozzell, Keiron Dyer, Brian Gayle, Finidi George, Marlon Harewood, Earl Jean, David Johnson, Chris Kiwomya, Richard Logan, Raphael Meade, Neil Midgley, John Miller, Bobby Petta, Georges Santos, Mark Stein, Manuel Thetis, Gus Uhlenbeek, David Whyte, Fabian Wilnis, Ulrich Wilson, Jermaine Wright and Romeo Zondervan.

Unsworth landed at second attempt

Loan signing David Unsworth was keen to join Town in the close season says BFJ but the financial situation at the time made it impossible. "I had a call from David's agent in the close season to ask if I would be interested in signing him. Having worked with him at Everton, and knowing what he could give us, I would have welcomed the chance. But it wasn't on financially." Unsworth should complete his move from Portsmouth to Ipswich next week.

Although Town's interest in the FA Cup ended three weeks ago the outcome of tomorrow's fourth round tie between Reading and Leicester will have some bearing on Town's next home league fixture. Should a replay be required it will be played on February 12th and the Ipswich-Leicester game planned for the same day will be postponed until later in the season. Staying with the "greatest cup competition in the world", Oldham manager Brian Talbot, who played in three successive FA Cup finals for Ipswich and Arsenal, will be hoping to do better against Bolton than Town managed in the previous round, when the two sides meet at Boundary Park on Sunday. Trotters manager Sam Allardyce, incidentally, was assistant manager to "Noddy" at West Brom in the early 1990's.

Town will play Colchester United in a benefit game for U's coach Brian Owen at Layer Road before the start of next season. Owen, who was at FPR under Bobby Robson, has also worked at Wolves, Luton and for England, and has been in the game for over forty years.

Town legend Mauricio Taricco is returning to his native Argentina having decided to retire from the English game. Taricco joined Town from Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors in 1994 and played 170 competitive games for the Blue's before his transfer to Tottenham in November 1998. He joined West Ham briefly in November of last year but played just twenty-seven minutes for the Hammer's before tearing a hamstring. His contract was terminated by mutual consent a few days later.

Shefki Kuqi has been called up by Finland for a tournament in Cyprus next month. The Finns face Latvia on Tuesday February 8th in Nicosia and either Austria or hosts Cyprus the next day.

Daryl Knights made a substitute appearance for England in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Portugal in the U-17's Algarve Tournament yesterday. This was the second of three games for the young Lions this week, the final game coming against Norway tomorrow.

And lastly, Anna Hughes has joined the Club as its new Finance Director. Hughes has been an independent financial consultant for the past six years working most recently for the British Museum.

Thursday, January 27

Rhino joins Town

Town have signed 31-year-old former England defender David Unsworth on loan from Portsmouth until May. "Rhino" as he is affectionately known on the south-coast, played under BFJ at Everton and will be reunited with his old boss when the senior squad returns from its sojourn in Tenerife. Speaking from Spain BFJ said: "David will join us next week and be available for selection for our match at Sheffield United on Saturday week. He is an experienced player and will give us more defensive strength for the final 16 games of the season. Left-back is where David is set to play, but he can also do a great job for us as a central defender."

Chairman David Sheepshanks was quick to pay tribute to his manager following Unsworth's decision to drop down a division to join Town. "I'm very pleased that we have been able to support Joe and bring David on loan to Portman Road. It's a measure of Joe's statue in the game that he is able to attract a player of David's standing from the Premiership to strengthen our push for promotion."

Academy and Reserve striker Daryl Knights was on the bench for the England U-17's yesterday as they opened the Algarve Tournament with an impressive 3-1 victory against France. England face Portugal tomorrow in their second group game.

Jaime Peters played the full ninety minutes, and set up the winner, for the Canadian U-20's in their 2-1 win over Mexico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras yesterday. The game was the first of three in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament for the Canucks this week, the second coming tomorrow against host nation Honduras.

And the 17-year-old midfielder, who will be joining Town in May, has been named in the Canadian senior side for their friendly against Northern Ireland in Belfast on February 9th.

Lewis Price has been called up by the Welsh U-21's for their friendly against Germany on February 8th in Wrexham. If he plays Town's second choice keeper will earn his fifth cap at this level.

Adam Atey, who has been told he is free to find another club, is currently training with Torquay United. Atey will stay with the League One side until the weekend.

And lastly, Neil Diamond and REM aren't the only headliners at FPR this summer. The annual Mothers Union meeting is to take place at the ground on June 25th with the North Stand being reserved for the occasion. Apparently.

Wednesday, January 26

Charlton Curb Bent Interest

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley appears to have turned his attentions away from Darren Bent as he attempts to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes. The Addicks had a GBP3.0Million bid for Bent turned down back in August and Town have since said that only a "silly money offer" would tempt them to part with the Blue's leading marksman.

A young reserve side lost 1-0 to Coventry City at Nuneaton Borough FC's Manor Park ground last night, Kevin Thornton scoring the winner for the Sky Blue's early in the first half. Shane Supple saved a second-half penalty after former Town Academy striker Craig Reid was pulled down in the area, while recent loan signing Jimmy Juan played 75 minutes before picking up an injury and being substituted.

Waterford United's Daryl Murphy has been named Irish Young Player of the Year for 2004. Murphy was on trial at FPR last year but his stay was cut short by a groin injury. Town, however, are still interested in the 22-year-old striker and another trial is planned for early next month.

Jamie Peters is likely to be in action for the Canadian U-20's as they take on Mexico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras tonight. Peters recently signed a pre-contract agreement with Town and will officially become a Blue on his 18th Birthday in May. The game against Mexico is the first of three games for the Canucks in the next five days as they look to qualify for the 2005 FIFA World Youth (U-20) Championships in Holland.

Daryl Knights could win his 5th England U-17 cap today as the England youngsters take on France in the opening match of the Algarve Tournament in Guia this afternoon. Matches against Portugal and Norway follow on the 27th and 29th respectively.

And lastly, Antonio Murray seems to have landed firmly on both feet following his move to Hibernian two weeks ago. Murray made his Easter Road debut in Hibs 3-0 over Kilmarnock on Saturday alongside former Blue Sam Morrow. The Edinburgh side are on a roll since Tony Mowbray took over as manager in the summer and are currently third in the SPL seven points clear of fourth placed Aberdeen.

Tuesday, January 25

Do not pass GO

Drissa Diallo who was on course to make a return to action against Coventry City reserves at Nuneaton tonight, having pulling a hamstring back in December, had to pull out of training on Friday and will see a specialist later this week. "It's very frustrating because I was training with the first-team and hoping to play in the reserves this week but that's not possible now. I don't know how long I will be out for. It will be down to what the specialist says but I will be the happiest man around when I can get back to playing football and helping the team try to win promotion."

Loan signing Jimmy Juan is expected to make his reserve team debut against the Sky Blue's this evening. The man from Monaco will be joined in midfield by the promising Dean McDonald who starred in the second strings 1-0 win over Portsmouth at FPR last week.

Trialist John Paul Kelly is not to be offered a deal at FPR and has returned to his native Ireland. The former Liverpool academy midfielder had been with Town for a month but had not impressed sufficiently to earn a contract.

And lastly, Portman Road could be a site on a special edition of Monopoly. Plans to produce an Ipswich version of the classic board game are in motion with Christmas 2006 or Christmas 2007 likely dates for it to hit the high street shelves.

Monday, January 24

Holidays in the sun

With no game now for a fortnight BFJ has taken Championship leaders Town on a mini-break to Tenerife. The Blue's next game is at Bramall Lane against fifth-placed Sheffield United on Saturday, February 5th.

With Town drawing 1-1 at Reading and second placed Wigan being held 2-2 at the JJB Stadium by Watford, Sunderland were able to make up ground on the top two with a 1-0 home win over Sheffield United. Former Town marksman Marcus Stewart, who recently went fifteen games without a goal, volleyed home the winner for the Blackcats just before half-time. The 32-year-old wants to win automatic promotion and the prove himself again in the top flight. "I'd like to have a go and see if I can do it again. It's everyone's ambition to be against the best, but we'll see what happens."

Elsewhere, Town's U-18's drew 0-0 with Charlton at Playford Road on Saturday, Daryl Knights has been named in the England U-17 squad for a tournament in the Algarve this week, and Dean Bowditch has been named in the England U-19's squad for their friendly against Belgium in Zulte-Waregem on February 9th.

Sunday, January 23

Reading 1 Town 1

Just when Town appeared to have clinch all three points, with a goal from Darren Bent one minute into injury time, up popped Reading defender Ivar Ingimarsson barely sixty-seconds later to head home an equaliser at the opposite end. Both sides had had more than enough chances to have scored before the last frantic two minutes. Marcus Hahnemann denying Shefki Kuqi, Tommy Miller and Darren Bent, Darren Currie hit an upright, Richard Naylor just missed with a overhead kick while the home side missed enough chances to settle several games, Shorey in particular denied by a superb Kelvin Davis on-handed save.

"I think we switched off celebrating the win and we didn't get another touch of the ball," said BFJ. "No one individual is to blame, but it is disappointing, although I would be more disappointed if we were not still top of the league. Overall I think we edged it and it looked like being the best 0-0 you have ever seen. Their keeper made a few great saves and how he got to the one from Shefki Kuqi I do not know. He must have telescopic arms!"

Reading manager Steve Coppell remarked: "That finish was all part of the master plan to keep the viewers on the edge of their seat! It would have been cruel to have decided the match on a mistake by my captain Graeme Murty. He is going to donate his bonus to Ivar for getting that late equaliser."

Dean Bowditch has agreed a new deal with Town that keeps him at FPR for a further three-and-a-half year's. "Like all Town fans I am delighted that Dean has pledged his future to Ipswich Town," said David Sheepshanks. "It shows our determination and commitment to secure our best young talents for the long term benefits of this football club."

Darren Bent, who hit his fourteenth goal of the season yesterday, talks to Matt Scott of the Guardian about turning down a move to Newcastle United back in March 2003 here. "You look at the strikers Newcastle have got. Obviously they have one of the all-time greats up there in Alan Shearer; they've got Bellamy who's a good player, and Shola, and now they've got Patrick Kluivert. So I was thinking to myself, why go up there and play a bit here and a bit there when I can be here, learning my trade week in, week out and getting the experience I need? It was definitely the right decision. A lot of people have said to me, 'You should have gone - it was a massive opportunity. But I think in the long run people will look back and say I've done the right thing."

And lastly, despite reports that Burnley have turned down Town's approach for Mo Camara the move is still a possibility according to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.

Reading v Town pictures


Friday, January 21

Reading will be shown respect

BFJ is expecting a tough contest against 4th placed Reading at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow but expects Town to come away with at least a point: "I keep hearing everyone can beat everyone in this division but there are two sides [Town and Wigan] who have lost just five games in 29 so it is not quite true. While we will be showing Reading all due respect I certainly don't expect us to lose there." Richard Naylor will be making his 250th appearance for Town while Ian Westlake is back from suspension and may replace Jim Magilton who has a tight hamstring.

Former Arsenal Academy winger Dean McDonald is to be offered a professional contract by Town. The 18-year-old has impressed twice for the Reserves in the past week and will be given the opportunity to show that he can perform at senior level. The deal will run through to the end of the season.

Town's Billy Clarke scored the second of the Republic of Ireland U-19's goals in a surprise 2-0 win over Italy in Bisceglie, Bari yesterday afternoon.

Daryl Murphy, whose trial with Town at the end of last year was cut short due to injury, has signed a new deal with his present side Waterford United. However, the Republic of Ireland U-21 striker still intends to earn a move to England before the start of the new Eircom League season in March.

And lastly, Town will face Aston Villa in the 5th Round of the FA Youth Cup after Villa beat Port Vale 1-0 last night. The tie must be played at FPR sometime before Saturday, 19th February.

Stop Franchise FC 2 in its tracks

Gravesend & Northfleet Football Club faces the biggest threat in its 60-year history if plans to relocate Gillingham FC to the borough come to fruition.

Moving Gillingham from their spiritual home would bring them into direct conflict with Gravesend & Northfleet, Dartford and Charlton who enjoy strong support in the area. It would also alienate many of their fans, 50% of which are based in Medway.

Fleet supporters are protesting against the proposal and will be engaging with disaffected Gillingham supporters and fans of football throughout the country to fight these plans.

Fleet fans are arguing that to relocate Gillingham outside Medway smacks of Franchise FC - MK Dons - a move motivated by money. But to move the Gills to within a mile of an existing, prospering Conference club shows a heartless disregard for the feelings of supporters of both clubs.

Please lend your support to the campaign by signing the 'Fleet First' petition here.

Thursday, January 20

Bid for Camara failed

And an attempt by BFJ to sign Burnley left-back Mo Camara has been rejected by Clarets manager Steve Cotterill. Camara is out of contract at the end of the season, but Cotterill is keen to hold onto the Guinea international, and Camara himself is said to want to see out his contract at Turf Moor.

Jaime Peters, who signed a pre-contract deal with Town last week, has been named in the Canadian U-20's squad taking part in the CONCAF final qualification group for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship's. Honduras are hosting the group games in San Pedro Sula from January 28th to the 30th. The Canucks play Mexico on the opening day, Honduras on the 28th and Jamaica on the 30th. The top two sides advance to the finals in Holland this summer.

Antonio Murray who joined Hibernian last week and made his SPL debut on Saturday, is on the verge of a call up by Scottish U-21 coach Rainer Bonhof. Cambridge born Murray, who is at Easter Road until the end of the season, qualifies to play for the Scots through his Ayrshire born father.

Billy Clarke, who was an unused substitute in the Republic of Ireland U-19's 0-0 draw with Italy on Tuesday, should feature in the second of two clashes in Biscegli this afternoon. Academy trialist John Paul Kelly is also in the squad and played the full ninety minutes of the first game.

Shefki Kuqi will do his former employers at Sheffield Wednesday a huge favour if this goals fire Town to the Premier League. Promotion for Town would see the Owls GBP150,000 better off due to a bonus clause negotiated as part of the deal that brought the Finn to FPR last season.

Wednesday, January 19

Counago accepts the inevitable/Baltacha through

Pablo Counago has rejected a move to Spanish League Division Two's basement club Cordoba but accepts that his FPR career is over. "Pablo has turned down the chance to return home and sign for Cordoba," said BFJ. "But the two of us sat down and had a very amicable chat this morning and Pablo accepts that it will better for his career if he finds another club." Counago, currently Town's highest earner at GBP12,000 a week, said: "I love this Club and have enjoyed a great relationship with the fans since I first came here and while I will be disappointed to leave Portman Road, it is now the right thing to do for my career."

BFJ is continuing his efforts to strengthen the squad following the two-month extension to Daniel Karbassiyoon loan deal and the agreement with AS Monaco that see's Jimmy Juan at FPR until the end of the season. "While there is nothing imminent that doesn't mean we are not looking or that nothing is going to happen. I asked about a couple of players recently but one of them is now playing for his club in the Premiership. As for the other, we are still interested and you never know what might happen. One deal may be dead, but there's still a chance with the other."

Reading have sold more than 20,000 tickets for Saturday's game with Town and expect a full house for the top of the table clash, with the Blue's having sold-out their allocation of 4,300 seats earlier this week. Fan's heading for the Madejski Stadium can find directions and other information about the area at the excellent Hob Nob Anyone?

The Republic of Ireland U-19's drew the first of their two friendlies with Italy this week 0-0 in Corato. Town's Billy Clarke sat out the game but former trialist John Paul Kelly played the full 90 minutes. The second game is on Thursday afternoon.

And lastly, Elena Baltacha fought back from a set down to reach the third round of the Australian Open with a 2-6 6-3 6-1 win over Stephanie Cohen-Aloro. The daughter of former Town player Sergei is the first British woman to reach the third round in 14 years.

Tuesday, January 18

Don't waste your time

BFJ says that no enquiries have been made for Darren Bent since the reopening on the transfer window at the beginning of this month. "There will no doubt be speculation, but we have had no enquiries and it would have to be an outrageous offer for us to even consider it. He's very happy and loves it here and after his two goals against Coventry he'll find another yard. To be blunt, clubs wanting Benty would be wasting their time."

Town and AS Monaco have agreed a deal that will see Jimmy Juan return to FPR on loan until the end of the season. The 21-year-old midfielder spent last week training with Town and impressed BFJ sufficiently to be asked back for a longer spell. Juan is expected back in Suffolk tomorrow and will be available for the Reading game this weekend.

Matt Richards first half strike earned the Reserves a 1-0 win over Portsmouth at FPR last night. The star of the show, however, was former Arsenal youth team player Dean McDonald. The attacking midfielder impressed, particular in the first half, and his physique, positioning and ball control conjured up images of one Shaun Wright-Phillips (who earned his Manchester City debut under Joe Royle back in 2000). A shame that just 328 showed up.

Drissa Diallo has resumed training for the first time since picking up a hamstring injury just before Christmas, Richard Naylor will have a light week to avoid aggravating his recent hip injury and Shefki Kuqi's ankle injury, picked up in the weekends 3-2 win over Coventry, is of no cause for concern says BFJ.

Shane Supple (heel injury) has withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland U-19 squad for their two friendly internationals against Italy this week. Town, however, will still be represented by Billy Clarke and trialist John Paul Kelly. The first game takes place this afternoon in Corato.

Monday, January 17

4,000 heading for Reading

Arsenal have agreed to extend Daniel Karbassiyoon's loan stay by a further two months. The 20-year-old American, originally brought in as defensive cover following an injury to Drissa Diallo in December, has made the left-back spot his own since his first full start for Town in the 2-1 win at Plymouth on January 3rd.

Shefki Kuqi injured an ankle in Saturday's 3-2 victory over Coventry and is a doubt for the trip to the Madejski Stadium next weekend. "I really hope to be fit for the Reading game next Saturday but we will have to wait and see how things progress." Around 4,000 Town fans are expected to travel for the 4th v 1st clash. Regarding the penalty awarded against him on Saturday for handball, the Finn was adamant the decision was unjust. "I did not move my hands. The ball simply bounced up into them."

Elsewhere, the U-18's drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday morning and the Reserves take on Portsmouth at FPR tonight hoping to improve on their current record of P14 W1 D4 L9 Pts 7, stats that see them firmly entrenched at the bottom of the FA Premier Reserve league table.

Sunday, January 16

Town 3 Coventry 2

Shefki Kuqi's 13th goal of the season keeps Town two-points clear of Wigan at the top of the Championship after a five-goal thriller against Coventry at FPR yesterday. Kuqi latched onto Kelvin Davis's miss-hit clearance to curl home the winner from just inside the Sky Blue's area in the 77th minute. Coventry had taken the lead as early as the 12th minute when Stern John beat Town's offside trap. The home crowd had to wait until just before the break for an equaliser by Darren Bent and Bent scored his second on 59th minute to put Town ahead. The lead lasted just two minutes however before Gary McSheffrey levelled the scores from the penalty spot after Kuqi had handled in the box.

"We were slow out of the blocks and went one down," said BFJ. We inched our way back into the game, went in front and promptly gave a penalty away. The lads were delighted for Kuqi, who scored the winning goal after conceding the penalty. For me it was our most important victory of the season because we were below our best. We are averaging two points a game, a formula which never fails to work. We scored three goals and are top scorers in the division. I am very proud of that. We showed great spirit and there is tremendous friendship between the players. The celebrations are not contrived. That is one of the benefits of having a small squad. They are together as a team."

Elsewhere, Town hope to keep Jimmy Juan until the end of the season. The 21-year-old midfielder has impressed while on trial at FPR this week and will return to Suffolk if a deal can be struck with AC Monaco, and former Town captain and coach Tony Mowbray has opened discussions with Hibernian regarding extending his managerial contract with the Edinburgh club.

Saturday, January 15

Peters signs

17-year-old Canadian midfielder Jaime Peters has turned down the chance to join Chelsea and has committed his future to Town. "Even though we have seen relatively little of Jaime in action, what was immediately apparent was his sheer quality," said BFJ. "As a player he has exceptional pace, he understands the game and anyone playing full international football at 17 must have something special." Peter will become an Ipswich player when he turns 18 in May.

Town hope to extend Danny Karbassiyoon's loan stay at FPR for a further two months. The current deal is up after the Reading game next weekend but the young American he has made clear his desire to stay.

Antonio Murray has joined SPL side Hibernian until the end of the season. Murray had been training with the Edinburgh outfit this week and will now stay with Tony Mowbray and Co. until May.

Richard Naylor rejoins the squad for today's home game with Coventry having recovered from a hip injury that forced him to sit out last weekends FA Cup tie with Bolton. Town from: Bent, Bowditch, Counago, Currie, Davis, De Vos, Horlock, Karbassiyoon, Kuqi, Magilton, Miller, Mitchell, Naylor, Price, Richards and Wilnis.

Friday, January 14

Sheepshanks OK with Agents' Fees

The second Football League Agents' Fees Report, published yesterday, shows that Town spent GBP90,000 on agents for the six-months to December 2004. Players who arrived during that period were Kevin Horlock (West Ham), Darren Currie (Brighton), Tony Dinning (Wigan - loan) and Danny Karbassiyoon (Arsenal - loan), while part of the total includes a payment made to an agent following the return of Martijn Reuser to Holland.

Commenting on the report David Sheepshanks told the official site: "We have contracted GBP90,000 for transactions that include new signings, contract renewals and one departure payment. I am satisfied that this is proportionate and to gain a perspective, it represents less than 1% of our expenditure on player costs."

Town's Chairman has also hinted that a new signing is in the offing. "Joe has made it clear he would ideally like to strengthen the team further and we have one or two feelers out, so we may be paying another agent's fee soon, we will see."

BFJ will keep faith with the striking partnership of Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent for tomorrows visit by manager-less Coventry City to FPR. Although the pair have netted 23 goals between them this season, Kuqi has failed to score since the 1-0 victory over Stoke (December 28th) while Bent has not hit the back of the net since his last minute winner against Wigan (December 21st). "... I have a sense of loyalty about Darren and Shefki. There is no problem - we are top of the league, the top scorers and our front players have done well together."

Richard Naylor, who missed out on last Saturday's FA Cup tie against Bolton with a hip injury, should be back to face the Sky Blue's, while the game will mark Tommy Miller's 100th League outing for Town since his transfer from Hartlepool in the summer of 2001.

Shane Supple has been added to the Republic of Ireland U-19 squad for two friendly internationals against Italy next week. The call-up follows the withdrawal from the side by Millwall goalkeeper Terry Masterson. Town Academy striker Billy Clarke had already been named in the side for the games in Bisceglie and Corato.

And lastly, Town's league match at Preston North End has been moved to Friday, February 18th (kick-off 19:45) and will be shown live on Sky. The game was originally scheduled for the following day.

Thursday, January 13

Youths progress/Reserves still bottom

Town's U-18's reached the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup last night with a 2-1 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Liam Craig scored both goals for the young Blue's including the extra time penalty that clinched the tie. "We knew it would be a tough game and it was certainly that," Academy Director Brian Klug told the official site. "It was a clash of styles in many ways and Stoke never gave in but we edged it and deservedly so". Town's reward is a home game against either Aston Villa or Port Vale.

The reserves lost 2-0 to Watford at Vicarage Road, with second half goals from Andy Ferrell and Anthony McNamee clinching victory for the Hornets. Pablo Counago spurned a number of chances and Dean Bowditch hit the bar in the second period but despite out passing the home side for long periods Town failed to find a cutting edge. The second-string, who included trialists Paul Kelly and Dean McDonald in their starting line-up, remain bottom of the FA Premier Reserve League (south) with just a single victory to their credit.

Wednesday, January 12

Karbassiyoon keen to have stay extended

Arsenal loanee Danny Karbassiyoon is keen to have his stay at FPR extended provided that Town and the Gunner's can come to a suitable arrangement. "Nothing has to be decided before the Reading game and it could be a month or longer - for me the longer the better," Karbassiyoon told the EADT. "I know nothing is guaranteed but there is not much chance of me playing for Arsenal, while I would love to stay here and help Ipswich push for promotion."

The Reserves take on Watford at Vicarage Road tonight in a game that will allow the coaching staff to take a closer look at youngsters John Paul Kelly and Dean McDonald. Kelly, a 17-year-old Republic of Ireland U-19 international, was on Liverpool's books last year but returned to his native Ireland with a bout of homesickness, while 18-year-old McDonald was released by Arsenal during the summer.

Also in action tonight are the U-18's who travel to Stoke where they will be hoping to make progress in the FA Youth Cup. Town saw off Portsmouth at FPR in the previous round while the young Potters knocked out Manchester United. Tonight's victors will take on the winners of Port Vale and Aston Villa.

Paraguayan defender Miguel Angel Martinez, who had been training with the Blue's this week, will not be offered a deal by the Club, while Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan will be staying until Friday at least. "Jimmy will stay with us until Friday. He's doing okay here and we have a 'relationship' with Monaco that works both ways for the clubs," BFJ told the official site.

And lastly, BFJ has dismissed the possibility of a charity match in aid of the Tsunami appeal. Town have a free weekend at the end of January following their KO from the FA Cup as do Norwich who had been touted as possible opposition. However, Town's manager has ruled out such a game: "We are not looking for any extra games and I am sure Norwich will feel exactly the same. We are in a 46-game season and this is definitely a no-goer."

Tuesday, January 11

Catch 22?

Triallist Miguel Angel Martinez has been ruled out of Town's reserve match at Watford tomorrow night. Steve McCall had planned to include the defender in the squad for Vicarage Road but FIFA have ruled him ineligible as their rules state that unsigned foreign players cannot participate in trial matches. BFJ will try and assess the Paraguayan's ability, along with that of Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan, during training this week. "It is better to see these players in action rather than just in training. The FIFA rules say they have to be signed, but we don't like signing players until we have seen them play, so really it is a restriction of trade. It is hard to tell what they are like but we will learn more this week when we have a full week with them."

Reserve midfielder Antonio Murray is due to train with Hibernian today and will spend the rest of the week with the Edinburgh side with a view to spending the remainder of the season there on loan. Murray made his debut at Derby County in the final game of the 2002/03 season but a series of injuries since then have hindered his chances of further appearances. The SPL side are managed by former Blue Tony Mowbray.

Sammy Moore, Billy Clarke and an own goal secured a 3-2 victory for the U-18's over Millwall at the Lions' Calmont Road training centre on Saturday, while the U-16's suffered a 2-1 reverse also against the South Londoner's.

Darryl Knights has been named in the England U-17's squad that will take part in a mini-tournament in the Algarve later this month. England will line-up against host nation Portugal plus France and Norway.

Pablo Counago, encouraged by the reception he was given by fans when he came on as a second half sub in Saturday's Cup game with Bolton, says he wants to stay at FPR despite being given a free transfer by BFJ. "It is the feeling of being wanted that gives me a boost. I want to at least play a part in helping Ipswich get back into the Premiership."

And lastly, BFJ produced the contradiction of the week says the Daily Telegraph. In Saturday's programme notes Town's manager asserted: "The FA Cup is still the best cup competition in the world. I love it." But after the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bolton, played incidentally in front of FPR's lowest crowd of the season he said dismissively: "We've got a big league match next week. I'm far from devastated. The last thing we wanted was a replay." RIP the FA Cup. Amen.

Sunday, January 9

Town 1 Bolton 3

Bolton scored three times in eight second-half minutes to knock Town out of the FA Cup at FPR yesterday. The controversial El-Hadji Diouf split the Blue's defence with a perfect pass to Stelios Giannakopoulos to strike home the opener on the hour, and five minutes later the Senegalese was again provider as he found Henrik Pedersen who made it two. Pedersen hit the third and his second on 68' with a rifled shot from just inside the Town area before Tommy Miller scored a consolation goal on 70', after good build-up play by Pablo Counago. Town went close a number of times in the dying minutes but are left to concentrate on the league for the remainder of this campaign.

BFJ thought Wanderer's superior finishing was the difference between the two sides: "The scoreline was slightly harsh on us but they took their chances and we missed ours and that was the difference. There lies the difference between the Premiership and the Championship, the cutting edge because you don't win games without scoring goals."

While Sam Allardyce thought it was fitness: "I have been able to change my side around over the last few games while Joe has not had that luxury and that played a big part in our victory. We knew it would be a tough game and there was nothing in it for an hour but we took our chances well when they came along."

Saturday, January 8

Joe loves the cup

While promotion to the Premier League remains Town's top priority BFJ would love to have a decent FA Cup run starting with a win over Bolton at FPR today. Royle, the last English manager to lift the trophy when Everton beat Manchester United in the 1995 final, believes the Cup still retains the magic and importance that it had in years past.

"I strongly disagree with anyone who says that the FA Cup has lost its shine over recent years. It is still the premier cup competition in the world. There are many players who will tell you that it was the highlight of their life playing in the Final at Wembley or the Millennium Stadium. And of course for the smaller clubs there is always that opportunity for a giant-killing. The drama of the Cup is amazing, it is where David can take on Goliath and beat him - and regularly too. I love the competition."

Friday, January 7

BFJ moves for two

BFJ says there is nothing in reports linking the Blue's with Scottish forward Alan Gow, but admits that he did make a move earlier this week for two players with the intention of signing one. "Nothing has happened as yet but there is no rush. I heard about the possibility of their availability and went from there." Meanwhile a number of clubs have asked after Town players although no concrete offers have yet been made.

Bolton's serial gobber El-Hadji Diouf has been told by team mate Kevin Nolan to 'shut his mouth' ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup 3rd tie at FPR. The Senegalese striker has been involved in several spitting incidents this season, one of which led to a suspension, and was booked for dissent during Wanderers league game at Birmingham earlier this week. Nolan said: "Diouf has been superb since he came back for us. I just wish he'd shut his mouth and just get on with playing with the ball. I've told him and he seems to be listening a bit more."

Arsenal have given Town the go-ahead to play Daniel Karbassiyoon in tomorrow's cup game having initially said they didn't want the young defender cup-tied. He joins a squad of 18 named for the game which includes three doubtful starters in Richard Naylor (hip), Dean Bowditch (flu) and Matt Richards (food poisoning). Squad: Bent, Bowditch, Counago, Collins, Currie, Davis, De Vos, Horlock, Karbassiyoon, Kuqi, Magilton, Miller, Mitchell, Naylor, Price, Richards, Westlake and Wilnis.

Elsewhere, a huge television screen could be installed inside FPR should Town return to the Premier League. CEO Derek Bowden said the club had shelved earlier plans to have one erected, using the money instead to strengthening the playing squad. "We have been considering putting a large screen in the south-west corner of the stadium for some time but, even though we would be able to get one through one of our directors' companies, it would cost a six figure sum to put it up."

Thursday, January 6

We're the Cuningham Stand, we're the Cuningham Stand, we're the Cuningham Stand Ipswich Town!

Town fan Sandra Cuningham has emerged as the winner of the Club's recent "Win the North Stand" competition. Her name will be picked-out in white seats in the upper tier of the stand and an announcement about how much the Club's coffers benefited from the three-quid-a-go contest is expected before the Saturday's game with Bolton.

Arsenal loanee Danny Karbassiyoon is keen to extend his stay at FPR when the existing one-month deal runs out in a fortnight's time. "I'm really enjoying my time here and if the chance came to stay longer that would be great," he told the official site. "It's better for me to be playing in front of big crowds and playing in games with points at stake than playing in the reserves for Arsenal."

Academy striker Billy Clarke has been named in the Republic of Ireland's U-19 squad for two friendlies with Italy later in the month. Ireland will face the Italians on 18th January in Corato and again in Biscegli on 20th January.

BFJ will be making changes for this weekend's FA Cup-tie with Bolton but won't be throwing in the youngsters. "It's been a heavy schedule of games over the last week or so and we will mix it up a bit but it won't be a case of putting in a load of the youngsters. We may bring one or two into the squad but it will be minimal." Definitely out is Karbassiyoon as the Gunners don't want him cup-tied, while Drissa Diallo is still on the mend from his hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, with Foxes boss Craig Levein in the process of bringing two of his former Hearts players down south to the Walkers Stadium, rumours of a possible return to FPR by James Scowcroft have resurfaced. Levein blocked a request by BFJ to take the Bury boy on loan earlier this season but may be more inclined to let him return to Suffolk following the arrival in Leicester of Mark de Vries and Alan Maybury.

Wednesday, January 5

Trotters not eyeing Kuqi

Reports in the EADT today suggest that Bolton are keeping tabs on Shefki Kuqi. Sam Allardyce will make a move for Town's leading scorer if a loan deal for Moscow Dynamo striker Dimitri Bulykin cannot be completed by the end of the week. Although BFJ says otherwise: "Shefki will be here at the end of the season as far as I'm concerned - and there has been no interest shown by Bolton."

Town's manager is said to have inquired about the availability of Crewe's Dean Ashton, but has ruled out bringing in either Duncan Ferguson or Les Ferdinand, while an earlier Town target, Graham Stuart, has been given a free-transfer by Charlton Athletic. Meanwhile no firm bids have been received for any Town players since the Premiership's transfer window opened earlier in the week.

Reserve defender Chris Hogg is recovering from a severed artery after thieves attempted to steal his sister's car from outside his parent's Middlesbrough home on Boxing Day. A lengthy operation was needed to repair nerves, tendons and a main artery in his left arm, which he sliced open after putting his first through a plate glass window in an effort to warn off the thieves.

Waterford United's Republic of Ireland U-21 international Daryl Murphy is still confident he can land a contract with Town. Murphy was on trial at FPR before Christmas but his stay was curtailed by a groin injury.

Elsewhere, the collection for the Asian Tsunami victims held by the Red Cross prior to the West Ham game on New Years Day raised in excess of GBP24,000.

Tuesday, January 4

Plymouth v Town pictures


Plymouth 1 Town 2

Not the prettiest of games but a well earned win for Town nonetheless as they defeated Plymouth 2-1 at Home Park yesterday. Former Argyle man Darren Currie put Town ahead from the penalty spot on 67 minutes, after Darren Bent had been brought down by 'keeper Romain Larrieu, and hit a second on 85 when he converted Jim Magilton's low cross. Micky Evans pulled one back for the home side with 3 minutes remaining but a determined Town held on for all three points. With Wigan not playing Wolves until tonight and Sunderland drawing at Gillingham the victory puts Town five points clear at the top of the Championship.

BFJ was full of praise for Darren Currie and the manner in which he took his two goals: "Darren Currie grabbed the ball for the penalty ahead of Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi and I am glad he did. He took that well and he also made the second goal look easy because it was behind him when it came across and he has done well to turn it in on the volley."

Jim Magilton, whose introduction as a second half sub turned the game in Town's favour, said he was boosted Town's fan's singing his name, rather than jeering, after he failed to connect with a through ball shortly after coming on: "That made me feel they have taken to me. It made me think that they realise all players have positives and weaknesses, but it was a lovely gesture and gave me a big boost in confidence. It was a great slap on the back and I took it as great compliment. If I know they are there for me, then that is half the battle. Perhaps we have had our differences but this helps to show that we are all in it together, players, staff, management, board and fans and that this is going to be our year."

Ian Westlake will miss the home game with Coventry on January 15th after receiving his 5th yellow card of the season for a mistimed challenge in the dying moments at Home Park. Westlake had hoped to miss the Bolton FA Cup game at the weekend but the one match suspension applies seven days after the 5th booking is received which means he's available for the visit of the Trotters but not that of the Sky Blue's.

The defensive mix up between Kelvin Davis and Richard Naylor that led to West Ham's first minute opener on Saturday is put into a different light by the news that his plans to get a good nights rest the night before (New Years Eve) were brought to an abrupt end when a car crashed into the front of his Bury St Edmund's home!

Town have confirmed that Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan will join the squad for training on Thursday and will spend six-days on trial at FPR where he will be joined by Paraguayan free-agent, and central defender, Martinz Angel.

And lastly, the Times reports that James Scowcroft has been the target of a GBP500,000 bid from Norwich City. The fluffy-ones need extra firepower and former Blue Scowcroft falls into the right bracket!

Monday, January 3

Freshening up at Home Park

BFJ says there will be changes in today's line-up at Plymouth as Town look to make a quick recovery from Saturday's home defeat against West Ham. Kevin Horlock, Dean Bowditch and Danny Karbassiyoon are all likely starters with Jim Magilton, Darren Bent and Matt Richards making way. "It's not a reaction to the defeat against West Ham. It was always in my mind to freshen things up for the Plymouth game. We have got options in the squad now and it's important to give players a rest now and again."

Saturday, January 1

Town 0 West Ham 2

Town surrendered their undefeated home record to West Ham at FPR this afternoon with goals in the first and last minutes, by Marlon Harewood and Matthew Etherington respectively, doing the damage. Harewood slotted home after a defensive mix-up between Richard Naylor and Kelvin Davis. Town threatened to find an equaliser, particularly in the second period, but the cutting edge was missing, and it was no surprise that the visitors extended their lead at the death with Town stretched in all directions.

BFJ bemoaned the dreadful start, from which the Blue's were never able to fully recover, but had no complaints about the result: "The start killed us and it took us 30 minutes or so to settle down after that. They got a great boost from it and we were below our best for the remaining 89 minutes but overall I have no complaints, they were better than us all over the park. We hardly had a shot on goal and the defeat could have been heavier than the 2-0 scoreline to be honest."

Hammers manager Alan Pardew was more than happy with the performance from his side: "They gifted us an early goal but we were excellent from the kick-off and gave an outstanding display. We have shown we can beat the top teams. Consistency and concentration level have been problems for us. We've had a tricky run with injuries and suspensions but now we must try to become the best team in the division for the second half of the season. Ipswich were the best team in the first half. They were a great side, and still are. They will take come catching."

Despite the first defeat in 17 matches at FPR Town still lead the Championship on 52 points. Sunderland (49pts) blew their chance of overtaking the Blues with a 3-2 loss at Preston and Wigan (50pts) moved above them into second spot after a 2-0 win at Sheffield United. Reading are still fourth on 48 points following a nil-nil draw at Gillingham.


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