Chairman says club is better prepared

CHAIRMAN David Sheepshanks last night had this message for concerned Ipswich Town fans: “We are better prepared than we were this time last year.”Sheepshanks, who watched last night's friendly with Dutch top league side Willem II in Tilburg, said that he did not expect the Blues to under achieve in 2006/07 under new manager Jim Magilton.

By Elvin King

CHAIRMAN David Sheepshanks last night had this message for concerned Ipswich Town fans: “We are better prepared than we were this time last year.”

Sheepshanks, who watched last night's friendly with Dutch top league side Willem II in Tilburg, said that he did not expect the Blues to under achieve in 2006/07 under new manager Jim Magilton.

After finishing half-way in the Championship last season odds of 40-1 to win the title appear if anything to be a tad generous.


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But 12-1 to gain promotion to the Premiership is a wager that Sheepshanks sees as one worth a few bob.

Yesterday morning he kept a close eye on the training session at a non-league club in Tilburg, and like the rest of the onlookers could not have failed to be impressed by the spirit and enthusiasm in the camp.

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The club has declined considerably since the heady days of finishing fifth in the top flight in 2001, and there may be a while yet before Ipswich Town are back fully on their feet.

But Sheepshanks reassured Blues fans who may have pessimistic views about 2006/07. He said: “There are four reasons to take heart over this time last year.

“Firstly we will have Gavin Williams and Alan Lee available for the whole campaign.

“Secondly, our emerging players will benefit from the extra year. Last July, the likes of Jaime Peters, Shane Supple, Billy Clarke, Danny Haynes, Owen Garvan, Scott Barron and Chris Casement were without first team experience.

“Now they are ready to push on.

“Thirdly, I confidently expect us to have two new players by the start of the campaign. They could come from the triallists we have with us on this tour.

“And there is a chance that a Premiership player might be coming for a season-long loan on top of the other two additions. We have already had talks, but with the Premier League not starting until the third Saturday in August, clubs are not prepared to release any players for a while yet.

“And fourthly there is the Jim factor. Along with his coaching staff Jim Magilton has brought a new impetus and a new momentum to the club. Last season we under-achieved. This campaign I expect it to be different.” Marko Kolsi, a 21-year-old Finnish Under-23 international, trained with Ipswich yesterday - and he is expected to play in tomorrow's friendly in Belgium.

He played for Willem II, Town's opponents last night, for two years, and is now a free agent. He suffered injuries while in the Dutch League, but is fully fit now.

The midfielder has 19 caps at Under-23 level and comes recommended by Ronnie Goodlass, the former Everton youth coach under Joe Royle at Goodison Park, who helped arrange last night's game.

Goodlass is staying with the Ipswich party in their hotel and will be acting as their tour manager for the six-day trip to the continent.

There has been a change to Friday's fixture with Ipswich now playing FC Dordrecht in Holland instead of FC Brussels. The Belgian club are involved in the early rounds of the UEFA Cup.

Dordrecht play in the Dutch Second Division, and the switch of games at this late stage has angered Town fans who booked Brussels hotels.

Martyn Reuser was at last night's match and visited the Town hotel on Sunday meeting up with some of his former team-mates.

During the summer he attended the wedding of another former Ipswich player - Thomas Gaardsoe - in Denmark. Reuser is due to return to Portman Road to play in Richard Naylor's testimonial game on Saturday September 2.

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