Can Town find a way past mean Millwall?
IPSWICH Town are preparing to tackle one of the meanest defences in the league when they take on Millwall at the New Den on Saturday.
IPSWICH Town are preparing to tackle one of the meanest defences in the league when they take on Millwall at the New Den on Saturday, writes David Vincent.
Lively Town are the top scorers in the First Division with 43 goals from their 22 league games but have also conceded 32 goals and that leaky defence has prevented an even higher position.
Millwall's problems are in scoring goals and they have been hard hit by injury in the striking department.
However, since Dennis Wise took over as manager, after the sacking of Mark McGhee, the injury-hit Lions have denied the opposition a goal in four successive home games.
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Since losing to Preston North End on October 14, McGhee's last game in charge, they have beaten Nottingham Forest 1-0 and Sheffield United 2-0 and played out 0-0 draws with Derby County and Norwich City.
They have been missing as many as 11 first-teamers, including four strikers, during that time and manager Wise still faces selection problems ahead of Town's visit.
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Manager Joe Royle's choices for Saturday's game are dependent on injuries and the resolution of Chris Bart-Williams' situation.
Full-back Fabian Wilnis, who missed Saturday's win against Derby County, and Richard Naylor, who left the pitch after 22 minutes, are both hoping to be available for selection.
Bart-Williams, the Charlton Athletic loanee who has been in impressive form for Town, will be allowed to leave the Valley.
Town chairman David Sheepshanks and Charlton chairman Martin Simons have reached an agreement; the two managers are happy so now it is Bart-Williams' own choice.
The player had a day off yesterday but is expected to return to training today when it could be resolved, one way or another.
A deal needs to be sorted out before the weekend if he is going to play for Town at the New Den.
Royle said yesterday: “They have agreed the framework of a deal and all that remains is for Chris to give us his answer.
“I have also spoken to Alan Curbishley and everything is fine for us. We have had a good run with Chris in the side and we want it to continue.
“He has played a big part, not only with his own contributions but in the way he helped other players to find their best form.”
Out of the reckoning for Town is striker Alun Armstrong, who suffered a badly gashed leg in Monday's reserve defeat to Spurs. He will be out of action for three weeks.
But centre-half Richard Naylor is improving. He did some light training yesterday and will be fully tested tomorrow.
Midfielder Tommy Miller returned to Ipswich for treatment after taking a knock to the ankle in the closing stage of Saturday's game, an injury that prevented him featuring for Scotland B in their friendly against Turkey B last night.
It is a week of comings and goings at Portman Road.
Arriving for trials are Shefki Kuqi's younger brother, also a striker, and a Swedish midfielder during the winter break in Scandinavia.
Njazi Kuqi, 20, and a Finnish Under-21 international player, plays his football for FC Lahti in Finland and 24-year-old midfielder Erik Sundin is out-of-contract with his club Café Opera in Sweden.
Royle revealed Sundin was recommended for trial by Everton's former Swedish star Anders Limpar when he met him at a club dinner.
“He has recommended one or two players to us.
“Njazi Kuqi is under contract in Finland at the moment but we will have a look at him. We heard he was going for trials at one or two other clubs.”