Duo return from injury today

THOMAS Gaardsoe and Jim Magilton will start in today's crucial Division One clash at Coventry City, writes Derek Davis.The duo passed fitness tests after suffering from groin strains and have gone straight back into the starting line-up as Ipswich look to keep the pressure on the top six by beating out-of-sorts Coventry City.

THOMAS Gaardsoe and Jim Magilton will start in today's crucial Division One clash at Coventry City, writes Derek Davis.

The duo passed fitness tests after suffering from groin strains and have gone straight back into the starting line-up as Ipswich look to keep the pressure on the top six by beating out-of-sorts Coventry City.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night said: "It will be good to have both fit. We missed Thomas last week and he will be important to us in defence.

"Jim has been a big player for us all season so it is vital that he is fit too."


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With Gaardsoe back in a three-man defence with Richard Naylor and Chris Makin, Matt Holland will return to midfield along with Magilton and Tommy Miller, which would see Jermaine Wright drop to the bench.

With Matt Richards keeping his place as left wing-back, Martijn Reuser will also be left disappointed.

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Nabil Abidallah dropped out of the squad yesterday after taking ill, with reserve-team skipper Ian Westlake taking his place in the party which arrived in the Midlands last night.

Royle, along with coach Willie Donachie, watched as play-off rivals Nottingham Forest and Wolves clashed at the City Ground last night.

Coventry, who are expected to be unchanged from the side which drew with Preston last week, have lost five and drawn one of their last six home games and are bottom of the form table with just two points from a possible 18. They have conceded 17 goals in their recent run of six matches which has seen them slip to 18th in the table.

The Sky Blues are looking for goals to come from young striker Jay Bothroyd, who is the club's leading league scorer with eight goals, and on-loan Matt Jansen from Blackburn, who is fighting back after a serious motorbike accident.

Player-manager Gary McAllister is the inspiration to the side as his seven goals from midfield show but he is hoping City can find their first win at Highfield Road since Boxing Day.

He said: "The fact is we are dealing with a separate group of players now, and within that group there are four or five youngsters, so there is a freshness about the club since we made the changes a couple of weeks ago.

"We have needed change here and as much as there have been some enforced changes this season, I think the time was right to make a few changes anyway. It would have been nice for the finances to come back to me to strengthen the squad, but that is not the case at the moment.

"But the up side is that changes have been made and youngsters are getting a chance, and they will continue until the end of the season when we hope to introduce two or three others."

But as well as preparing for next season, McAllister is all too aware that he has problems on the home front which need addressing in the last three fixtures in their own back yard.

"Our home form has been disappointing this year," he said. "We have been decent away and our record probably stands up pretty well against the other teams, but we have been poor at home and we would like to finish with a flourish.

"We have got to be more positive at Highfield Road. You can feel the anticipation from the crowd that they want the ball to go forward and go and win matches, and when things don't go to plan we have got to show more strength of character."

Youssef Safri remains sidelined with a groin injury and City have already started jettisoning players in preparation for next season as the cost-cutting bites hard. Keeper Morten Hyldegaard, Youssef Chippo and former Doncaster Rovers youngster Robert Betts have all been told they are no longer required and are among 10 players who are to be axed.

Coventry City: Montgomery, Whing, Konjic, Shaw, Gordon, Eustace, Pead, McAllister, Bothroyd, Jansen, Pipe, Engonga, Debec, McSheffrey, Noon, Davenport and Bates.

Ipswich Town: Marshall, Wilnis, Naylor, Gaardsoe, Makin, Magilton, Miller, Holland, M Bent, Gaardsoe, Richards, Wright, Pullen, Reuser, Bowditch and Westlake.

Referee: Uriah Rennie (Sheffield)

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