Elliott to make Town debut
MATT Elliott will make his Ipswich Town debut tonight after completing his loan move from Leicester City yesterday morning.His arrival will be a welcome relief for Blues boss Joe Royle who could be without 10 first-team players.
MATT Elliott will make his Ipswich Town debut tonight after completing his loan move from Leicester City yesterday morning, writes Derek Davis.
His arrival will be a welcome relief for Blues boss Joe Royle who could be without 10 first-team players.
Drissa Diallo, Georges Santos. Martijn Reuser, Pablo Counago, John McGreal, Chris Bart-Williams, Alun Armstrong and Chris Makin are definitely ruled out with injury.
Richard Naylor has a broken little toe and will need an injection if he is to play, while Kelvin Davis has a stomach bug.
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Ian Westlake and Tommy Miller should be fit after treatment for knocks but Royle has drafted in 17-year-old Aidan Collins to join 18-year-olds Scott Mitchell and Scott Barron in the squad.
Young keeper Lewis Price could make his debut if Davis fails to recover from the stomach bug that forced him to miss training yesterday.
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If Naylor is not risked then Fabian Wilnis could partner Elliott in central defence with Jermaine Wright going in at right-back.
That would leave an opening for Scott Mitchell to make his first start unless Town decide to match Walsall in a 4-3-3 formation and start with Dean Bowditch alongside Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi.
Elliott's vast experience - he has played for Charlton, Oxford United, Leicester City and Scotland - could prove invaluable for Ipswich.
Royle said: “Matt is a leader, he is big, loves heading the ball and has experience as an international footballer. He is a good talker and good organiser.
“He has not had much chance at Leicester this year and wants to play first-team football.”
Royle has every respect for an experienced Walsall side but knows another run like the one that started against Walsall last September, when they won nine league games out of 10, would put them firmly back in the promotion hunt.
He said: “I saw Walsall play very well at West Ham a couple of weeks ago and they are a good footballing team.
“Colin Lee has gone down the road of bringing in top-quality experienced players, people like Paul Merson and Vinnie Samways.
“There are no easy games in this division but paradoxically, when we are at our best we fear no-one.
“We have dominated the last three games but somehow have contrived to lose them.
“What we have to do is get the winning habit back quickly and we still have nearly a quarter of the season left.”
The call to start 17-year-old Bowditch is strong but Royle may resist if he sticks with a 4-4-2.
He said: “Bowditch is in my thoughts but I would say again 'please be patient'. We train with the kid every day and we know of his ability. He has no bigger fan than me but equally it has to be seen whether it is best to bring him on when the sting has gone out of the game or to start him and he can give us a great start.
“But I would question whether he is physically ready to give us 90 minutes.”
All this could change if Royle is successful in bringing in a new player today. He said: “I have not given up hope of having someone else in before the Walsall game. There are two possibilities, although we would only take one of them on.”
Town sick list: Diallo and Santos (stitches in the face), Reuser and McGreal (knee ligaments), Counago, (hamstring), Bart-Williams (back), Armstrong (thigh - although he may play a part in a friendly against Cambridge University today).
Chris Makin undergoes surgery on a hip problem tomorrow.