Burley could decide Town's destiny

GEORGE Burley could still have a significant part to play in Ipswich Town's playing fortunes after being appointed interim manager at First Division rivals Derby County, writes Derek Davis.

GEORGE Burley could still have a significant part to play in Ipswich Town's playing fortunes after being appointed interim manager at First Division rivals Derby County, writes Derek Davis.

The former Blues boss has taken charge of the Rams for an initial two-week period while a complaint involving his nephew Craig Burley is investigated against suspended manager John Gregory.

Burley's first game in charge of County is at home against Town's deadly rivals Norwich City, who are a place below them in the table, level on points with seventh-placed Ipswich but the Blues have a better goal difference of three.

Burley last night said: "It is an interesting first game for me to say the least. The most important thing is to get a result for Derby on Saturday, which in turn will help Ipswich out.

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"Derby are fifth bottom and in a bad run so with seven games to go I will be doing my best to help them stay away from trouble."

If Burley is kept on until the end of the season then Derby's last game will be at home to Ipswich, who could by then need to win to secure a play-off place.

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He added: "I have been asked to help out for a while and I'm very flattered and honoured that they phoned me.

"All I'm doing at the moment is focusing on the Norwich game and we will take things from there.

"It has been a frustrating couple of months for me and I have been desperate to get back working in the game so I'm glad to be helping out."

Burley was sacked by Ipswich Town last October after a poor start to their Division One campaign following relegation, although he continued to be paid by Ipswich until the end of January and has now become a creditor for the outstanding amount on his contract.

He got straight back in the saddle yesterday by taking a double training session at Derby's Raynesway training ground.

The Rams have not won in nine games and are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle. They are still six points ahead of Brighton, Grimsby and Stoke, who are all on 37 points, five ahead of bottom club Sheffield Wednesday.

After leading Town to the Premiership at the fourth play-off attempt, Burley won Manager of the Year as he guided Town to fifth place and a UEFA Cup spot.

Derby chairman Lionel Pickering said: "George is highly respected for his ability as a football manager and his integrity as an individual and is exactly the type of person Derby County needs at this juncture."

Gregory was suspended almost two weeks ago after accusations concerning the treatment of an Achilles injury to Craig Burley.

The Rams have also confirmed coach Ross MacLaren and physiotherapist Stuart Walker have been suspended while an internal investigation takes place following allegations made against them.

But coach Billy McEwan, who lost his job in February after nine years with the Rams, was reinstated after it was concluded his dismissal was 'unmerited.'

McEwan said: "My association with Derby goes back a long way and I'm delighted this matter has been resolved to both the club's and my own satisfaction. Throughout this situation my loyalty to Derby has never wavered.

"Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion and commitment to this club, its players and supporters."

Burley was one of the five managers who last week voted the 4-0 win by Nottingham Forest over Norwich City as the Nationwide performance of the week.

Derby County remaining games: April 5 Norwich City (h) April 12 Wimbledon (a) April 16 Millwall (h) Coventry City (h) April 21 Watford (h) April 26 Walsall (h) May 4 Ipswich (h)

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