Diallo could have part to play

DRISSA Diallo makes another big step towards a first-team return tonight, with another outing for Ipswich Town Reserves when they take on Chelsea at Portman Road.

By Derek Davis

DRISSA Diallo makes another big step towards a first-team return tonight, with another outing for Ipswich Town Reserves when they take on Chelsea at Portman Road.

While no one wants to be negative, or tempt fate, contingency plans if the Blues fail to gain an automatic top-two place have to be made and Diallo could play an important part.

The French defender will be needed for the play-offs, even possibly before, with David Unsworth returning to Portsmouth immediately after Town's trip to Brighton on Sunday, May 8.

Pompey last night confirmed they will not be recalling Unsworth, despite suffering an injury crisis at left-back.

With Matt Taylor, Hayden Foxe and Dejan Stefanovic out, Portsmouth used half-fit Andy Griffin as a fill-in at Birmingham on Saturday and may do so again against Liverpool tomorrow.

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The Premiership relegation battlers need five more points to dodge the drop and it is all hands on deck for the South coast side - except Unsworth.

Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie last night confirmed to the EADT: “We will not be recalling David Unsworth. His loan period finishes on May 8 and we won't see him back before then.”

Unsworth's three-month loan deal cannot be extended and he was always going to return to Fratton Park at the end of the regular season.

He will not be available for the play-offs, even if Ipswich were to sign him on a permanent basis, as the transfer deadline day was in March.

He would not be allowed to play again for Town until next season, although he would be available for Portsmouth's final game at West Brom on Saturday, May 14.

If the Blues don't succeed in overhauling Wigan, or even Sunderland, then they would need to reshuffle at the back for the play-offs.

Matt Richards could drop in at left-back or Fabian Wilnis could switch to that side, with Diallo resuming his place at right-back, just as the team lined up in the early part of the season.

If Town wanted to go with three central defenders, then Diallo could slot in with Jason De Vos and Richard Naylor.

The former Burnley defender may return to the team earlier, if he can prove his match fitness against the billionaire-backed London club's second-string tonight, after impressing in his 90-minute comeback against reserve league champions Charlton, last Thursday.

Steve McCall's squad will not be finalised until later this morning, when a number of players' fitness will assessed following the first-team draw on Sunday and the youth team's exploits at Southampton last night.

A decision on whether to play Pablo Counago and Kevin Horlock will be made, although James Scowcroft, Lewis Price and Richards are likely to start.

Young Irishman Gerard Nash will not be risked, as he continues building his strength slowly following a lengthy lay-off.


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