Casement in line for first senior start

CHRIS Casement is in line to make his first senior start for Ipswich Town on Saturday, as Joe Royle looks to shake up his side after Saturday's abject defeat at Luton.

By Derek Davis

CHRIS Casement is in line to make his first senior start for Ipswich Town on Saturday, as Joe Royle looks to shake up his side after Saturday's abject defeat at Luton.

The 18-year-old defender is set to come in as a right-back after impressing there for the reserves and for Northern Ireland.

Casement has spent most of his time at Ipswich as a centre-back, but has flourished in the full-back role and after going on as a substitute at Crystal Palace and then at home against Hull City he will make the next step in his development by making his full debut against Stoke City.

Royle promised to make changes after being unhappy with a number of Blues stars at Kenilworth Road and the Northern Ireland young international skipper is seen as part of Town's immediate future.

Royle said: “Chris has been improving in front of our eyes. He has good skill, is sensible, has quick feet and is obviously good in the air as a centre-back. He also has a good long pass on him and we feel he is ready for a longer look in the first team.”

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Casement played for the reserves against Charlton's second string last night with a host of other hopefuls, but Royle will not throw players in at the deep end just for the sake of it.

He said: “There is no-one else coming in just yet. We have to be careful with young players and nuture them as you can hurt them by putting youngsters in too soon. We will play them, but they have to be ready.”

The Blues boss was last night still smarting at the manner of the loss at Kenilworth Road and vowed his side would perform better against the Potters.

He said: “We have to apologise to our supporters for that display. Both our other two losses this year have been honourable defeats, but that was not.

“Even if we should have had a penalty and been a goal up by half-time, the performance was not acceptable and we will be better on Saturday.”

Royle has not been afraid to give a chance to those who have shown themselves to be ready, with Owen Garvan and Shane Supple two other 18-year-olds regularly starting, with Danny Haynes coming off the bench.

Garvan's midfield partner Jimmy Juan has also established himself in midfield and Royle is still waiting to hear from Monaco whether they want to keep him or sell him to the Blues. Although it is well known a fee will be required, the figure has not been discussed, but Royle says it has to fit in with the club's budget.

With Town also looking to sign striker Ricardo Fuller, who will want decent wages, and a centre-back who will not come cheap, so anything more than £500,000 for Juan would probably be asking too much. He said: “We don't know what it will be yet, but it has to be realistic. I would like to keep him if a fee can be agreed.

“Monaco have not given us an indication of how much they would be looking at for Jimmy. They have not decided what they want to do as yet and want to come and see him play before deciding. We are in constant dialogue with Monaco, but there have not been any suggestions of what the fee would be.”

Jay McEveley is another player Royle is considering making a permanent move for after his season-long loan from Blackburn.

McEveley was pencilled in for last night's reserve match, but fluid on a knee after the 1-0 loss at Luton meant he did not take part. Royle said: “Jay has come back from his injury quicker than anticipated, but has a sore knee after Luton, but he should be fine for Saturday.”

Skipper Jim Magilton missed training yesterday and is already a major doubt for the Stoke match.

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