Could it be Magic - or Ambrose?
DARREN Ambrose will fill the gap left by Jim Magilton if the experienced Irishman fails a lunchtime fitness test today.Magilton has fought to recover from a calf injury and the Blues are hoping he will be able to take his place in midfield this afternoon as Town entertain Preston at Portman Road.
DARREN Ambrose will fill the gap left by Jim Magilton if the experienced Irishman fails a lunchtime fitness test today, writes Derek Davis.
Magilton has fought to recover from a calf injury and the Blues are hoping he will be able to take his place in midfield this afternoon as Town entertain Preston at Portman Road.
Ambrose has been in sparkling form this season, scoring 10 goals, although he has made his biggest impact when coming on as a substitute.
Martijn Reuser will be hoping to make a start but he took a kick in the latter part of training yesterday and will be tested this morning.
The Dutchman had a fine game in the reserves on Monday as he begins to look back to full fitness but this latest set-back means Alun Armstrong is a late addition to the squad.
Chris Makin returns after missing two games through suspension and takes his place alongside Thomas Gaardsoe and Matt Holland as Joe Royle reverts to his 3-5-2 formation, while former Scotland boss Craig Brown is likely to stick with a 4-4-2.
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Brown's preparations have been thrown into disarray with so many players missing and he has been thwarted in his bid to sign Republic of Ireland striker Graham Barrett in time for this afternoon's encounter.
Barrett has held personal talks but would prefer to play for Brighton, where he is on loan against Portsmouth at Fratton Park today, while making up his mind about a permanent switch.
Preston have five players suspended and enough injured personnel to make up a full league side but tradition has showed North End are dangerous after a winter break.
In the last two years they have rebounded at the end of January to go on and make the play-offs.
Three new Lillywhites are expected to make their debuts with recently signed Celtic duo Jonathan Gould in goal and Simon Lynch up front or in midfield. Scottish defender Brian O'Neil is also in the squad after joining on a free from Derby.
Adan Eaton was not allowed to extend his loan spell at Mansfield and Brian Barry-Murphy returns from temporary duty with Third Division leaders Hartlepool. Michael Jackson will end his stint at Tranmere this weekend as Brown regroups.
Preston will be without the suspended skipper Chris Lucketti, Dickson Etuhu, Graham Alexander, Paul McKenna and Mark Rankine. The latter three would have been available had their game against Forest last week had gone ahead.
The injury list includes Rob Edwards, Richard Cresswell, Mark Wright and David Lucase, with long-term casualties Ricardo Fuller and Mark Wright adding to Brown's woes.
The former Scotland manager said: "I have never known anything like this. I can recall times with Scotland when we had injuries and players not being released which we had to deal with but this is quite unique."
Meanwhile, Ipswich are giving 28-year-old Lorient defender Yohan Bouzin a week's trial starting on Monday. They have also released young Irish keeper Sean Kelly.
Ipswich Town: Marshall, Winis, Holland, Gaardsoe. Makin, Hreidarsson, Miller, Wright, Ambrose, M Bent, Counago, Naylor, Pullen, Reuser, D Bent, Richards, Magilton and Armstrong.
Preston North End: Gould, Eaton, Barry-Murphy, O'Neil, Murdock, Bailey, Skora, Lewis, Abbot, Healy, Lynch, Abbot, Moilanen and O'Hanlon.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
* Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks' inclusion onto the Football League board as a Division One representative was last night ratified after a meeting with all 72 clubs. The EADT revealed on Tuesday that Sheepshanks, along with Millwall's Theo Paphitis and Sheffield United's Terry Robinson were replacing Mike Lloyd at Walsall and John Elsom at Grimsby.
* Ipswich supporters visiting superstore Planet Blue will be in for a treat today as the club is selling away shirts at half-price in a one-day sale.