Armstrong could make surprise return

ALUN Armstrong could be in the bizarre situation of playing against Bradford City on Saturday, and then returning to Valley Parade next week, writes Derek Davis.

ALUN Armstrong could be in the bizarre situation of playing against Bradford City on Saturday, and then returning to Valley Parade next week, writes Derek Davis.

The Ipswich Town striker's loan period at Bradford was suspended so he could not play against his mother club on Saturday and he has returned to Portman Road.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night refused to rule out the possibility of Armstrong being involved against Bryan Robson's basement strugglers, even though it would be an unprecedented situation.

Royle said: “It is unlikely that Alun would play but I'm not saying he definitely won't be. We will look at things over the next couple of days and take it from there.”


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With Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent the most probable starters, Armstrong could join Pablo Counago on the bench, with Dean Bowditch linking up with the England under-19 squad to play in Holland.

That would raise the possibility of Armstrong going on as a substitute, scoring the winner and then facing his new Bradford mates next week as they take on Crewe at Valley Parade.

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Armstrong has played seven games for City, scoring the winner on his debut against Norwich City, and could play another seven in the remainder of his three-month loan deal.

The former Middlesbrough striker initially joined the Bantams on a one-month loan but when the second month was negotiated a clause was inserted saying he could not play against Ipswich. So for the period between City's 2-1 home defeat to West Ham last Saturday and next week's game, Armstrong has returned to being paid as an Ipswich Town player, and so is available for selection against Bradford - unless, of course he gets injured in training.

Meanwhile, City are today hoping to sign Nico Vaesen on loan from Birmingham City.

Vaesen had originally said he did not want to go out on a temporary basis again after returning to St Andrews following a stint at Gillingham but Robson was hoping to change the keeper's mind.

Bradford had originally called in Sasa Ilic but the Australian international has an injured shoulder.

If Robson fails to land a keeper to stand in for the suspended Alan Combe, 20-year-old Australian Clint Davies will be between the sticks as regular stopper Mark Paston is out injured.

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