Finidi's Portman Road return

FINIDI George will be back playing at Portman Road by the time The Championship kicks off in August, writes Derek Davis.But Blues fans should not panic as the Nigerian is returning for one game only with Real Mallorca providing continental pre-season opposition.

FINIDI George will be back playing at Portman Road by the time The Championship kicks off in August, writes Derek Davis.

But Blues fans should not panic as the Nigerian is returning for one game only with Real Mallorca providing continental pre-season opposition.

The Spanish La Liga side are pencilled in to play Ipswich Town on Monday, August 2, five days before they kick off the league season against Gillingham.

George signed for Town from Mallorca for £3.1m but his one season stay was beset by problems with flashes of brilliance.


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The European Cup winner with Ajax, who also won Gold at the Olympics and played in the World Cup for Nigeria, was hailed as a sensation by George Burley for his performance against Derby on his home debut. But a fractured cheekbone against Fulham set him, and Ipswich, back.

His return to the side heralded Town's best run of the season, sparked by a fabulous goal and result at Spurs.

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The run ended when George flew to Mali for the African Nations Cup where he rowed with the national coach and ended up quitting the international game.

When he came back he had lost weight and his fitness and strength were below par.

He admitted in an EADT interview that he struggled to understand George Burley's instructions saying: "I don't know what I'm doing."

A lovely man with tremendous ability, George was paid off by Town to the tune of around £1m and will effectively still be getting the Ipswich shilling when he returns for the friendly in August.

George was on a pay as you play basis at Real Mallorca last season but appeared in the UEFA Cup, including the defeat by Newcastle United and showed his class in the 3-2 La Liga victory over Real Madrid towards the end of the season.

The friendly fixture is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Town management after being let down three times by clubs from Holland, Belgium and France.

Mallorca will use the luxury resort Champneys in the Midlands as their base while they take on Leicester City, Middlesbrough and Norwich City during their pre-season tour.

Meanwhile, Town striker Dean Bowditch's older brother Ben is having trials with League One side Colchester United.

Ben, 20, has been released by Tottenham Hotspur and was considered by Ipswich, but they are looking for someone with more experience to strengthen the midfield.

n FORMER Town keeper Andy Marshall faces a similar dilemma to the one he had last season after failing to secure a deal at Millwall.

Despite playing for the Lions in the FA Cup Final, Colchester-based Marshall's short stay at the Den could come to an end after refusing the offer made by Denis Wise who has taken three keepers on trial, and is close to securing a deal with Arsenal stopper Graham Stack.

Tony Warner has already left, while Willie Gueret looks set for a move to Swansea.

Marshall is keen to be guaranteed the number one jersey at UEFA Cup qualifiers Millwall, something Wise is, so far, reluctant to give.

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