Donachie calls for mental strength

MENTAL strength is the key to the Blues' staying in the top two automatic places, writes Derek Davis.That is the assertion of Ipswich Town assistant manager Willie Donachie, who was directing operations yesterday, while Joe Royle was at the High Court in London fighting Manchester City's appeal against his £422,000 compensation award.

MENTAL strength is the key to the Blues' staying in the top two automatic places, writes Derek Davis.

That is the assertion of Ipswich Town assistant manager Willie Donachie, who was directing operations yesterday, while Joe Royle was at the High Court in London fighting Manchester City's appeal against his £422,000 compensation award.

Donachie revealed the focus of the coaching staff working with the first team was on preparing them mentally, rather than flogging them to death on the training pitches.

He said: “There is a little bit of fine tuning, with David Unsworth and James Scowcroft coming into the side, but the rest all know their jobs.


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“When you have three games in a week, those will keep them fit.

“It is mental attitude, desire, passion, aggression and composure.

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“It is not physical or tactical, it is just about being together as they have all season.”

Both Unsworth and Scowcroft, who signed on loan this month, have slotted straight in to the side.

The Town forward was always going to be available for tonight's game and will start his 250th game for Ipswich, up front alongside Darren Bent.

Scowcroft put himself about in the 1-1 draw at Preston, impressing his old and new team-mates, and picked up a harsh booking, which was his fourth for the season. Friday's referee Matt Messias agreed to look at the video of the tackle which led to the booking and may rescind it.

After getting such a warm reception 10 days ago when he was playing for Leicester at Portman Road, Scowcroft can expect a rousing return tonight.

Looking ahead to tonight's game, Donachie warned: “Watford scored two goals at Sunderland so they will make it difficult for us.

“Every team in this division is hard working and capable, you just have to look at Brighton beating Sunderland on Saturday, so we know that Watford and QPR won't be easy.

“We are top of the league and every team sees us as a scalp and as a test of how good they are. They come here to a great stadium, a lovely pitch and with nothing to lose, so it is like a cup game for them. But we have it every game, every one is a cup game but, at the same time, they need to enjoy it.

“The more the players can be mentally relaxed and look forward to the challenge then we can beat anyone - even if we are not playing well.

“We would not have been able to do that last year, or the year before, but now we have the team spirit and good people.”

There are no surprises in the squad, with the same 16 that travelled to Preston named for tonight.

Jim Magilton will start in midfield, while Ian Westlake has recovered from a gash on an Achilles and Jason De Vos is fine after struggling with a tight calf.

Donachie acknowledges the importance of having skipper Magilton back in the starting line-up but insists getting results is not just about the Irishman pulling the strings in midfield.

He said: “The thing I liked about Jim was his attitude was still good when he was left out of the team. In the past, he would have thrown the dummy out of the pram but he was positive and, when he came on, helped get the result.

“It is not just about Jim. Kevin (Horlock) has also done well. He did a good defensive job in a difficult situation and can do things Jim can't do. Jim can do things Kevin and other players can't do.”

While Watford have not won in their past 12 away games, Town have slipped up at home just once in the league all season, losing against West Ham on New Year's Day, and have won four and drawn two of their six league games since then.

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