Davis a doubt for Town

HAVING your No. 1 keeper go sick just as you are looking for your first clean sheet in 14 games is hardly ideal, writes Derek Davis.But Blues boss Joe Royle is today hoping Kelvin Davis recovers from a throat infection so he is able to take his place between the sticks against Rotherham tomorrow.

HAVING your No. 1 keeper go sick just as you are looking for your first clean sheet in 14 games is hardly ideal, writes Derek Davis.

But Blues boss Joe Royle is today hoping Kelvin Davis recovers from a throat infection so he is able to take his place between the sticks against Rotherham tomorrow.

Apart from one mistake in the 4-1 defeat at West Brom, Royle believes Davis has not put a foot wrong this season and is highly unlucky not to have kept a clean sheet in the league all season.

In fact, Town have not kept the opposition from scoring against them in the league since Good Friday, on April 18, when they beat Portsmouth 3-0 at Portman Road.


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Ironically in the following game Rotherham netted twice in the last five minutes of their league clash at Millmoor on the Easter Monday to set the trend.

The Millers are third from bottom at the moment but after their 3-0 drubbing of Stoke City in midweek their confidence is high and their attacking strengths will test Town's defensive frailties.

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Royle admits: "Rotherham beat us twice last year in two games which we dominated but lost. We were given a wake-up call the other night, conceding goals from crosses and the one thing Rotherham do is put in crosses from anywhere and everywhere, including throw-ins. We need to be diligent when we are defending."

Fortunately for Town, Rotherham's long-throw specialist Shaun Barker is suspended for the game after a sending- off against Preston, though he has been injured for the last two games anyway.

After something of a dressing-room bust-up manager Ronnie Moore has got the side winning again and after doing such a good job with the South Yorkshire strugglers has been linked to the Reading job.

Royle admires the way Moore does the best with what he has got.

He said: "Ronnie Moore has done a fantastic job there. I had a little whinge about the pitch but I imagine Ronnie probably had a little smile when he heard my unhappiness about the corrugated pitch but this is our pitch so there are no excuses."

The Millers doubled Town last year, each time mugging the Blues who had been on top for most of the game. If they were to repeat the result they would leapfrog out of the bottom three and above Ipswich.

Although results this week conspired to see Town drop back down the table to 19th, Royle believes the much-improved performances of late will see them stage a recovery.

He added: "Even in the defeat at Sunderland there was a lot to be pleased with and, hopefully, we can carry on from there. If we carry on the form from the three wins, and even from the other night, we will have a great chance."

Town are also hoping Darren Bent recovers from calf and knee injuries in time for the basement battle.

Alan Mahon suffered no adverse reaction on Tuesday after recovering from a thigh strain

Royle has been boosted by Alan Curbishley's decision to allow Chris Bart-Williams to stay at least another month, although he can be recalled any time after Saturday's game.

Bart-Williams is also one caution from a one-match ban

"We have not had a true anchorman in midfield at the club since I have been here, someone who can defend just in front of the back four and can pass the ball. His presence has helped Jim Magilton, who has been magnificent for the past couple of games."

Drissa Diallo, Martijn Reuser, Chris Makin, Tommy Miller and John McGreal are suffering from long-term injuries.

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