Double blow for Town

LUCKLESS Ipswich Town suffered a double blow last night when the loan signing they were hoping to make did not materialise and Pablo Counago limped out of the reserves' draw at Derby County with a hamstring injury, writes Derek Davis.

LUCKLESS Ipswich Town suffered a double blow last night when the loan signing they were hoping to make did not materialise and Pablo Counago limped out of the reserves' draw at Derby County with a hamstring injury, writes Derek Davis.

Counago scored the opening goal at Pride Park, with Dean Bowditch getting the second late in the game to earn Town a 2-2 draw, but the Spaniard had to go off just before half-time.

The extent of his injury will not be known until later today but it was a shame for Counago, who would have gained confidence from the neatly-taken strike when he latched on to a long ball from keeper Lewis Price, and who had played well until going off.

The hoped-for loan signing looked promising after Ipswich and the player's club agreed the move but the man involved, whose identity is being kept under wraps to prevent other clubs moving in, would not agree.


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Blues boss Joe Royle is hoping the player will join and insists if it did come off, it would be well worth the wait.

Royle said: "I have not given up hope. These things do take time and nothing has been ruled out completely. I will speak to him and see what happens from there. I am also still speaking to other people so there is still a chance something can happen before the deadline."

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One player who won't be joining Ipswich, as had been reported elsewhere, is Liverpool striker Neil Mellor.

Although Mellor has returned to Anfield from his loan spell at West Ham after being unhappy at only being used as cover, his registration remains with the London club until the end of the season.

The loan regulation states that players under the age of 24, who sign on a season-long loan can only play for that particular club. That means Mellor will not be available for anyone else, not even Liverpool, certainly for the moment.

Town still have Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent available for the game against Millwall while Bowditch pressed his claim for a place with a well-taken goal after defender Michael Synott slipped a good ball in for the England under-19 striker to finish.

Reserve League leaders Derby stretched their unbeaten run to 14 games and are now three points clear of second-placed Charlton.

Steve McCall was pleased with the way his second string dealt with a strong Rams side.

He said: "We got a good early goal but Derby really piled the pressure on after that and deserved their equaliser. But the lads worked hard and hung in well and in the second half Derby scored against the run of play.

"It was great for Pablo's confidence to score and play well and for young Dean as well. The only dampener was losing Pablo to an injury but hopefully it will not be too serious."

Derby County Reserves: Oakes, J Turner, Twigg, Doyle, Mills, Milloy, Palmer, Zuduzovic, Cassidy, Labarthe Tome and Holmes. Subs: Richardson, Martin, C Turner, Wilkinson and Ainsworth.

Ipswich Town Reserves: Price, Synott, Barron, Kamara, Sobers, Mitchell, Flack, Reuser, Counago, Bowditch and Boardley. Subs: Manning, Peat, Atay, Reid and Craig.

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