Hermann out for five weeks

LUCKLESS Hermann Hreidarsson will be out for a minimum of five weeks after surgery to repair muscle damage following an accidental collision with Stoke City defender Sergei Shtaniuk.

LUCKLESS Hermann Hreidarsson will be out for a minimum of five weeks after surgery to repair muscle damage following an accidental collision with Stoke City defender Sergei Shtaniuk.

Town's Icelander was allowed to leave hospital last night following Saturday' night's operation on a wide gash just above his right knee. But the good news was that it is not believed there is any damage to the joint.

Hreidarsson will see a specialist again today for further diagnosis but is hoping to be back running within a fortnight. The Icelandic international will miss his country's European qualifiers at the end of the month after being stretchered off midway through the first half of Ipswich Town's first-ever goalless draw with Stoke City at Portman Road.

It was Hreidarsson's first game back after a four-match ban and he had already gone close to scoring twice, and there should have had a penalty when held back by Stoke's on-loan keeper Mark Crossley.

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But he bore no malice to Russian defender Shtaniuk, who left him beating the pitch in frustration after the tackle. Hreidarsson said: "We both went for the ball. My knee was underneath me and he caught me with his studs. I'm sure it was an accident.

"I'm angry with myself for not scoring and, in the second incident, I thought the whistle was going to go for a penalty. I should have put it away."

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Hreidarsson will be a huge miss as Ipswich go into their last 11 games needing to overhaul Wolves, who are a place above them in sixth place and six points ahead.

Town moved one place above Norwich who travel to league leaders Portsmouth on Wednesday and Town boss Joe Royle knows they need others to slip up if the Blues are to reach the play-off places.

He said: "We need to keep going and we need to win two more games than Wolves. You can't set a target because it is a daft division and everyone is capable of beating everyone else."

Great saves by the fortunate Mark Crossley – who might have been sent off for a foul on Hreidarsson – and missed opportunities left Town failing to beat a bottom-four club at home for the second time in a month.

Royle groaned: "Everywhere I go I hear the word frustration and it is that. We have played better but we have played worse as well, and we had our chances. We met an inspired keeper and we should have had a penalty, which wasn't given. But we had enough chances to win it.

"Their keeper was man-of-the-match, he made some terrific saves, especially the one from Richard Naylor which looked to be over his head before he tipped it away.

"It was definitely a penalty, the lad's has admitted it himself. But the ref didn't give it. I'm not rapping the referee because if he has just made that one mistake in 90 minutes, then he has made less than everyone else.

"Now we are doing well away but stuttering at home – we need to get both bits right."

Ipswich go to Crystal Palace tomorrow, for an 8pm kick off at Selhurst Park, with the injury list growing longer each day. They will have Pablo Counago back from suspension but Tommy Miller is a major doubt.

Royle added: "When Hermann goes down you know it is bad and he will be out for a minimum five to six weeks. Tommy has a tight hamstring so we are getting a little stretched again. But we should get Darren Ambrose back."

Royle admitted he was a little disappointed with – but could understand – first-half sub Matt Richards' unhappy reaction at being substituted in the second half as Ipswich threw four forwards into the front line. The manager said: "I had a little word, he won't be reacting like that again."

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