Blues hamstrung by Pablo setback

PABLO Counago's hoped-for return has been delayed with the Spaniard failing to recover as quickly as expected from a hamstring injury.

PABLO Counago's hoped-for return has been delayed with the Spaniard failing to recover as quickly as expected from a hamstring injury, writes Derek Davis.

Ipswich Town had planned to play Counago in tomorrow's reserve match against West Ham as part of his rehabilitation but the 24-year-old is still feeling tightness in the back of a leg.

Blues boss Joe Royle is keen to have the striker back in the squad even though Darren Bent and Dean Bowditch have knocked in seven goals in three games between them.

Shefki Kuqi also weighed in with a goal in the 2-1 win over Wimbledon, so Town are not short of firepower.

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But Royle said: “We want as many people fit and available as possible going into the run-in and then, hopefully, the play-offs. We need to be as strong as we can be.

“Pablo trained with us towards the end of last week but the injury is still causing him concerns.

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“He won't be ready this week but hopefully next week as he needs some games for match fitness.”

Counago has not started a game since the 2-0 win against Preston, when he was replaced with 35 minutes remaining.

Two 20-minute appearances as a substitute followed before he injured a hamstring in the reserve-team game at Derby.

It was the second time this season he has limped off at Pride Park, missing four games.

This time the former Spain Under-21 international has already missed four games and will not feature against West Brom on Sunday.

Martijn Reuser, Alun Armstrong, Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos will turn out for the second string at Dagenham & Redbridge's Victoria Ground on Wednesday, after the game was moved back a day from its original Tuesday fixture.

Town are also hoping Richard Naylor will join in training towards the end of this week and play next week.

With Kuqi and Bent away on international duty this week, Royle is hoping they come back unscathed so he will be able to name an unchanged side for the third game running when Town entertain West Brom on Sunday.

The Blues boss said: “It would be good to claim their scalp and would be an important win for us.

“The last time we played them we were bottom of the table, but things are different now.”

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