Blues are 'driven by fear'

FEAR of throwing it all away is driving Ipswich Town on to the finishing line.Jason De Vos, receiving the Powergen/EADT Blues' Player of the Month award for January, last night admitted the side can't really relax, even though they have a five-point cushion at the top of the Championship table.

By Derek Davis

FEAR of throwing it all away is driving Ipswich Town on to the finishing line.

Jason De Vos, receiving the Powergen/EADT Blues' Player of the Month award for January, last night admitted the side can't really relax, even though they have a five-point cushion at the top of the Championship table.

The Blues face another tough test tomorrow when a resurgent Leicester City visit Portman Road looking for their eighth game without defeat.

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With Wigan and Sunderland, Town's nearest challengers, on 57 points each, De Vos insists the Blues can't afford any slip-ups.

The commanding defender captained Wigan to promotion two seasons ago and knows exactly what it feels like to have team breathing down your neck.

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He said: “We had a 14-point gap at Wigan but we kept thinking 'if Cardiff win all their matches and we lose such and such, we won't do it', and that is what partially drives you on.

“It is the same here at Ipswich, and that fear of someone winning all their games is driving us on.

“Until it is mathematically impossible to be caught, we will never relax, no matter what the lead is.

“It is the same with Chelsea, if they lose two or three in a row that gap could become three points, and then they have Manchester United to play, so the Chelsea players will be saying 'it is not over yet' and it is the same at Ipswich.

“We have 15 games to go, and we know if we win most of them then we should be okay.

“Regardless of what other teams do, we will be there. Wigan and Sunderland have tough fixtures but it won't be easy, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

“So fear is driving us on.”

While most of us will be poring over the upcoming fixtures, and working out who will get what if they beat so and so, De Vos insists the Town players are keeping it simple.

He said: “We don't look at the fixture list to see who plays who, we only look at who we are up against next.

“This week it is Leicester and they are a very tough side to beat. Most pundits and exerts tipped Leicester to win the league, and rightly so.

“They had an experienced and a Premiership squad. They found that when they came down, everyone considered them a big scalp.

“People looked at them and thought they had to really lift themselves to get a result.”

While he was at Dundee United, De Vos got to know what it was like playing against the new City manager Craig Levein, who was boss at Hearts.

He said: “I played against Craig Levein's side when I was in Scotland and he is a very organised and disciplined manager.

“He is good at getting the best out of the players he has and he will be aware of our good home record and will look to break us down.”

The Foxes are dangerous away from home, with just three defeats in 14 games, and that doesn't surprise De Vos.

He said: “Teams go to Leicester, the wonderful Walker Stadium, and the stands are full, it is a great atmosphere and smaller teams go there and relish it and want to have a go.

“It was similar when I came here with Wigan last year on a Tuesday night. It was a fantastic pitch in front of a huge crowd and it was brilliant.”

A string of good performances helped clinch the Powergen/EADT Player of the Month award for De Vos, who reflected on how big a month January was for the Blues. After losing at home to West Ham, Town beat Plymouth and Coventry before a 1-1 draw at promotion-rivals Reading.

De Vos said: “We were very poor against West Ham and dropped points but we never lost ground.

“We knew during January we had to get back to winning ways and see off a few challengers, which we did.

“The Reading match was a big game for us and ended in disappointment really, when we only took a draw from a game we had won but lost so late in the game.”

Bolstered by the signing of David Unsworth, on loan from Portsmouth, De Vos believes Town have the defence to hold out for the rest of the season, allowing the strikers to keep getting the goals.

He said: “David is a great acquisition and his experience is going to be vital over these last 15 games. You can't buy experience. David has played his entire career in the Premiership and there is no greater pressure than that. Nothing is going to faze him.

“Bam Bam (Richard Naylor) and Fabian (Wilnis) have been brilliant. Fabian had to wait for his chance to play and he has played left-back, right-back and in the middle and done well in all positions.

“Kelvin has been superb for us, look at the saves he made at Sheffield United, they were phenomenal.

“He has produced points for us this season and saves like that are going to be vital for us until the end of the season.

“Look at any successful side, they have a strong goalkeeper, and we have two who can produce the goods when needed.”

Town started February in winning fashion, with a 2-0 victory at Sheffield United and he warned more battles would have to be won before mid-May.

He said: “We knew it was a big scalp for us. People say we would have lost that game last season, because it was almost like a bare knuckle brawl, and we had to fight it out but we did and that shows the determination in the squad.

“It doesn't have to be beautiful football, we would like to play pretty football and we try to dictate the game. But, if we can't do that, we show that we can scrap as well.”

De Vos picked up the January accolade based on ratings given after every game.

While no one did well in the West Ham game on New Year's Day, De Vos went on to record three eights and a seven during the month but, amazingly, did not win a man- of-the-match award.

Four different players did, Jim Magilton, Richard Naylor, Ian Westlake and Darren Bent, but De Vos' consistency won out.

Kelvin Davis and Darren Currie were joint second, with Naylor fourth.

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