A familiar face awaits
THE inclusion of former Norwch City striker David Nielsen gives tonight's friendly against Aab Aalborg added spice, writes Derek Davis.Nielsen returned to Denmark after a two-year spell at Carrow Road but was recently involved in a betting scandal.
THE inclusion of former Norwch City striker David Nielsen gives tonight's friendly against Aab Aalborg added spice, writes Derek Davis.
Nielsen returned to Denmark after a two-year spell at Carrow Road but was recently involved in a betting scandal.
He escaped prison when he paid off huge gambling debts and now plays for the club who qualified for this season's UEFA Cup after losing in the cup final to double-winning FC Copenhagen.
The Danish Super League starts next week so Aab are peaking while Town are still three weeks away from being completely ready.
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The Town defence will be tested by a strike force which includes lively striker Nielsen, a former team-mate of Blues triallist Mark Rivers, who will be on the bench tonight in a match that kicks-off at 7.10pm local time following some presentations.
Nielsen netted five times in his first five games when he signed for Norwich from Wimbledon after originally arriving in England from FC Copenhagen when he went on loan to Grimsby.
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The fleet-footed attacker also possesses good skills to take him away from defenders and is a good finisher.
Blues boss Joe Royle knows Nielsen well and knows he will be a handful in a team which finished fourth in the Danish top flight last season.
He said: "This will be our toughest game yet and with Nielsen playing that will give the supporters a bit of spice although we are not bothered by that.
"Aalborg are a top Danish side who are in Europe so they will give us a hard game."
Matt Richards, with a sore knee, is Town's main concern but if he doesn't make it then Scott Barron gets another chance to shine at left- back.
Georges Santos will not play with a hip problem and Royle will not make a lot of changes once the game has started as he looks for a settled starting XI.
He said: "While I'm disappointed with the result the other night it was understandable given the changes we made so it was nowhere near our strongest side.
"This will be a strong side and while not necessarily the side which will start the season it is getting near our strongest team."
After training at a local pitch in the morning the players were allowed the afternoon off yesterday with shopping and the cinema the favourite past-times.
Royle has been pleased with the relaxed build-up and getting away before travelling to Oxford United on Tuesday then two, possibly three, home games to follow with Crystal Palace and Dale Roberts' testimonial game against Newcastle United, to come.
Royle said: "The week has been good, the hotel, the people, the facilities have all been good and the training on Wednesday morning was excellent with the players looking very sharp – and it is still early in our preparations.
"Kevin Horlock and Jason De Vos have settled in very quickly, the way they have mingled they look as if they have been here years, while Mark Rivers is getting fitter.
"The trip is deliberately low key but by the time we play Newcastle United we will be ready."
Michael Johansen, the former Bolton midfielder who scored against Town in their first play-off encounter, is convinced the Blues will be tested fully tonight.
Denmark international Johansen is working for the Pro-Active agency, which put the tour together.
He said: "This will be a lot harder game for Ipswich than Tuesday. Randers have just come up while Aalborg are an established Super Ligaen side.
"There is a lot of interest in this game and even though people are on their annual holidays there will still be a couple of thousand fans there."
A small group of Ipswich fans have already arrived in Aalborg, a small town in north Jutland, which boasts a lively nightlife.
Ipswich Town: Davis, Wilnis, Richards (or Barron) De Vos, Diallo, Westlake, Magilton, Horlock, Bent, Naylor, Miller. Subs: Murray, Bowditch, Rivers, Counago, Kuqi, Mitchell and Price.