Blues bid for best start since the 80s

IPSWICH Town look to make their best start in the league in 16 years on Sunday with a clean bill of health, writes Derek Davis.The 13 points the Blues have picked up at the start of this season is their best tally after six games since 1999 when they reached 14.

IPSWICH Town look to make their best start in the league in 16 years on Sunday with a clean bill of health, writes Derek Davis.

The 13 points the Blues have picked up at the start of this season is their best tally after six games since 1999 when they reached 14.

But if they beat Millwall on Sunday they will have picked up 16 points from their first seven games, something they have not managed to do since 1988, when they won 17 points.

John Duncan's side beat Sunderland, Leicester City, Watford, Shrewsbury and West Brom, while drawing with Stoke and Bradford, in the old Division Two, in the days before the Premiership.


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Now Joe Royle's Championship-chasing Blues are looking to see off Millwall, who could well have one eye on playing in Europe next week.

Dennis Wise's Lions meet Hungarian side Ferencvaros at the New Den on Thursday as they start their UEFA Cup campaign, but will limber up at Portman Road in the live televised game.

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Town duo Jason De Vos and Tommy Miller have both insisted they will be fine after Royle initially put then down as doubts with knee injuries.

De Vos returned from Canada with a swollen knee after hyper-extending it while on international duty, but is happy he will be fit to play.

Miller has been struggling a little with a sore knee since Town beat Wolves 2-1 on Bank Holiday Monday, but he is expected to join the rest of his team-mates in training today.

Miller said: “It is still sore at the moment, but I have rested it. I'm sure I'll be okay and I'm looking forward to Sunday's game.”

Matt Richards has also recovered from a foot injury, but it is highly unlikely that Royle will change a winning side after victories against Rotherham and Wolves last month.

Darren Bent will make his 100th Blues appearance and is in sparkling form after netting two goals for England's Under-21s in Poland on Tuesday.

Former Blues keeper Andy Marshall is likely to continue playing second fiddle to on-loan Arsenal keeper Graham Stack, even though the young keeper was arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault last week and is on police bail.

Marshall, who played for the Lions in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United last May, has not figured in the first-team starting line-up all season, and was in the reserves side that beat MK Dons in midweek.

Wise has a few attacking options opening up to him, with former Fulham striker Barry Hayles making his debut after signing from Sheffield United last week. He is expected to be partnered by Danny Dichio, although on-loan Aston Villa striker Stefan Moore is back to fitness after injury.

Hit men are likely to figure strongly in this game, which has a high probability of not ending goal-less. The Blues have gone 29 league games since a 0-0, and that was against Millwall last December.

Town are also among the leading shooters, with 52 efforts on target already, beaten only by Wigan in the Championship with 57, and Ipswich have hit the woodwork three times.

Only Nottingham Forest have come that close more times, with four rebounding off the frame.

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