Counago set for shock recall

PABLO Counago is set for a shock recall into the Blues squad after Darren Bent limped out of training, writes Derek Davis.The Town striker is one of three of Tuesday's starting side who are doubts, with Fabian Wilnis struggling to be fit with a groin problem, while Kevin Horlock was struck by sciatica.

PABLO Counago is set for a shock recall into the Blues squad after Darren Bent limped out of training, writes Derek Davis.

The Town striker is one of three of Tuesday's starting side who are doubts, with Fabian Wilnis struggling to be fit with a groin problem, while Kevin Horlock was struck by sciatica.

Blues boss Joe Royle confirmed that the Spaniard will return to the first-team squad to face QPR on Saturday and could partner James Scowcroft.

Dean Bowditch, who looked sharp when he went on in the final stages of the defeat by Watford on Tuesday, would appear to be the more obvious choice if Bent fails to recover from knee and ankle injuries, but Royle is concerned at the England Under-19s' striker's lack of goals.


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Bowditch told the EADT recently how he was desperate to find a goal from somewhere after failing to find the net for the reserves since the beginning of November, when they beat West Ham 2-0 at Dagenham. Counago got the other.

The 19-year-old Bowditch has also drawn a blank for his country and, although his minutes have been restricted with Town's first team, he has not netted for them since helping Town to the top of the table in the 2-1 win over Wigan on December 21.

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Although many Town supporters have been clammering for Counago to be given a first-team starting run-out, Bent has hit 14 goals and Shefki Kuqi 15, making them a formidable partnership.

With that broken up Royle may look to make drastic changes against QPR and play Counago and Bowditch along with Scowcroft either as a third attacker or on the right side of midfield.

But that might mean leaving out Tommy Miller, who has scored in the last two games.

If Wilnis fails to be fit then Danny Karbassiyoon could move across to the right, where he has played for Arsenal Reserves in the past.

Matt Richards is another possibility, although reserve-team skipper Scott Mitchell, who played right-back against Bolton in the FA Cup, is another suffering from sciatica.

Royle was understandably being cagey about how he would cope with the injury problems.

He said: “We have one or two problems with injuries mounting up around us.

“Pablo will be back in the squad and we will see about others when we get a clearer picture about injuries.

“If Fabian doesn't make it, and at this stage he can be rated at no better than the proverbial 50/50, then Danny or Matt Richards could come in or we may have a change of system.”

Despite the injury blows and the defeat on Tuesday, Royle is upbeat and insists his players are not getting twitchy after slipping to second following Wigan's win at Coventry.

He said: “There is more nervousness among supporters than there is among ourselves.

“In the Watford game we had something like 12 attempts on target and they had three and scored from two so we shouldn't get carried away with one defeat.

“We have to get on and do what we have to do and hopefully that will be with the supporters, but if it has to be in spite of them then so be it.”

At the same time Royle is aware of the problems so-called lesser sides like QPR can cause.

He warned: “QPR have had a great season. They have come up with minimal spending and at one stage they were threatening the top six regularly. We saw Paul Furlong score with two terrific strikes against us and they have danger in the side.

“They are similar to Watford in as much as it is a dangerous side. They have had some great results but at times I have seen Ollie (manager Ian Holloway) quoted as saying they have let themselves down.

“We will treat them with all respect but it is a game we expect to win as we expect to win all our home games.”

The Blues boss will welcome back a popular figure in Georges Santos, who he is delighted has done so well at Loftus Road.

“Georges has done well for QPR, he has played up front, at the back and at the moment in midfield so they have had great value from Georges and they are very pleased,” Royle added.

“He is very popular here in Ipswich and there will be many people pleased to see him back here. I wish him well, except for Saturday.”

Young Irish centre-half Gerard Nash has been pencilled in for the Town Reserve game against Charlton on Monday after lengthy injury problems.

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