Emotional time for Matt

IF that was Matt Holland's final lap of honour at Portman Road then it was fittingly warm and emotional.While nothing is certain these days at Ipswich, and it is no means a done deal that Holland was playing his last home game for the Blues, there was a definite feeling that he was bidding a final farewell.

IF that was Matt Holland's final lap of honour at Portman Road then it was fittingly warm and emotional.

While nothing is certain these days at Ipswich, and it is no means a done deal that Holland was playing his last home game for the Blues, there was a definite feeling that he was bidding a final farewell.

He completed his customary end of match trot round the pitch with a special wave to wife Paula and their two sons, who then had to wait in the car park for half an hour while an unusually high number of well-wishers mobbed him as he left the players' lounge.

But it could all be a little premature as the Blues skipper last night reiterated his desire to stay.


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Speaking from the Republic of Ireland team hotel where Brian Kerr's squad assembled before Wednesday's friendly with Norway, Holland told me: "Nothing has been settled and as far as I know the situation remains undecided.

"I'm aware of the financial situation but that still doesn't mean clubs will come in for me or that I will leave.

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"I have three years left on my contract and I'm happy to honour that, whether that means being in the Nationwide or otherwise.

"The reception on Saturday was fantastic. It was very emotional, especially after a defeat like that."

The whole squad went back out on to the pitch to say their thanks from the centre circle with around 5,000 Town supporters still in the ground, despite just seeing their team tonked 5-1 by Wimbledon.

Holland groaned: "I don't know what happened. We blitzed them for 20 minutes and could have had five or six goals ourselves. They had about five shots on target all day and scored from them.

"It was a very disappointing way to finish at home and now we must focus on Derby next week."

Holland awoke with a sore knee yesterday morning and watched from the sidelines at yesterday's training session before the whole squad attended the FAI's Player of the Year awards.

Ironically enough Holland was presented with the Supporters' Player of the Year trophy in his absence last night at the Galleria at Portman Road.

He said: "I'm disappointed to miss the evening but it was unavoidable due to my international commitments, but once again I thank everyone who voted for me. It is a great feeling to have my name on the award twice."

The Blues skipper, who has also captained his country, is looking forward to meeting up with old boss George Burley at Pride Park next week.

He said: "It will be strange coming up against George and in a way I'm sure George is glad there is nothing to play for.

"I would rather we had already made the play-offs but this way, and with Derby safe, there will be no split loyalty."

Even though John Gregory is to have his hearing this week following his suspension from duty, I understand Burley will still be in charge on Sunday.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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