Davis targets more clean sheets

ONE of the biggest paradoxes of last season was the amount of goals conceded which contrasted with the impressive form of Kelvin Davis, writes Derek Davis.

ONE of the biggest paradoxes of last season was the amount of goals conceded which contrasted with the impressive form of Kelvin Davis, writes Derek Davis.

The Town keeper, picked up in a supreme piece of business by Joe Royle, for nothing from Wimbledon, was among the front-runners as Ipswich's best player last season, certainly one of the most consistent.

One of the prime aims this season is to change all that, starting today with Gillingham, who banged in four past a poor Portman Road defence last season.

Davis said: "We all agree from the front men to the defence that we need to keep a lot more clean sheets. It was something we were disappointed with last season, but more than that it was the manner in which we conceded a lot of those goals.

"Our goals against, not just clean sheets, was not good enough and we want to improve on that."

The signing of Canadian international centre-half Jason De Vos, and defence-minded Kevin Horlock are hoped to go a long way in solving the colander-like team.

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Davis said: "Jason has already shown in pre-season that he doesn't like losing a header and he is a big presence but it is not down to one man, we can all work on keeping the opposition chances down to a minimum."

Of the 72 goals given away last season you could count on one hand the amount down to Davis, who sets himself extremely high standards.

He said: "I don't want to start the season looking to make any mistakes but I'm a realist and mistakes do happen.

"I try to keep it to a minimum but let's get halfway through the season and I will give you a target from there."

The former Luton stopper has carried on his good form into pre-season, denying Alan Shearer more than once in an impressive performance against Newcastle United, and again when Osasuna were frustrated by his agility and ability, with only a quick free-kick by Crystal Palace questionable.

Davis said: "Pre-season doesn't mean too much but it is important that as a goalkeeper you are feeling sharp and making saves.

"The Palace goal could be put down to many reasons but I still felt sharp in that game and, if you like, I produced the goods in the other two games so I'm happy the way it has gone."

Getting off to a good start is vital for Davis and the defence's confidence but with an attack comprising his former Wimbledon team-mate Patrick Agyemang, Iwan Roberts and Darren Byfield, that may prove difficult.

Davis said: "There will be many upsets on the opening day but it doesn't tell you how your season will end up. It will not be the end of the earth if we didn't keep a clean sheet and win – but that is our aim.

"I know Patrick very well and he is some talent when he is flying and we need to make sure he doesn't get going.

"But it is not about one player. They are a strong outfit and you know what you get with an Andy Hessenthaler team."

Lewis Price, who made his first-team debut against Gillingham last season when Davis was taken ill, has been called into the Wales Under-21 squad to face Latvia, later this month and the Blues No. 1 has backed his young protégé to start challenging him.

"To get any international recognition for a professional footballer is massive. He has done really well and come on immensely. He is looking the part, looking a goalkeeper now. He has turned 20 years old and is already good enough to play in anyone's first team, certainly in this division.

"It is my job to make sure he doesn't get too carried away."

Davis has had to deal with losing goalkeeping coach Malcolm Webster, who was a big reason for joining Town from Wimbledon in the first place, but has taken to new man, Phil Cool impersonater Andy Rhodes.

"I got on very well with Malcolm and we had a great relationship but he felt it was the right thing to do by going to Derby and I wish him all the best. He is a fantastic guy and a fantastic coach. The Gaffer has brought in Andy Rhodes, who has taken on the mantle and he has been brilliant."

Much will be expected of the goalkeeping division this year but if performances translate to clean sheets then less than 45 goals in a season will be realistic.

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