Holland backing Town tonight

MATT Holland will return to his first club tonight but will be rooting for Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.The Charlton skipper, who captained the Blues to play-off success at Wembley four years ago, last night sent them a good luck message.

MATT Holland will return to his first club tonight but will be rooting for Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

The Charlton skipper, who captained the Blues to play-off success at Wembley four years ago, last night sent them a good luck message.

Holland started his career at West Ham but was released by Harry Redknapp and joined Bournemouth before making a bargain £800,000 move to Ipswich in July 1997.

But there will be no divided loyalties when he takes his seat in the Boleyn Ground tonight.

“I'm backing the Blues, no question,” roared Holland. “I'm tipping the game to finish a draw and Town to go through.”

Holland spoke with new skipper Jim Magilton on Friday before Town's 1-0 home leg win and will send him a good luck text message today for all the lads.

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After three semi-final heartaches, Holland was able to lead Town to play-off glory in 2000 with a 4-2 win over Barnsley at Wembley but remembers how tough it was to actually get there.

A Magilton hat-trick in the semi-final against Bolton went a long way to getting Town to that final and Holland believes tonight will be equally difficult and there could be as many goals.

He said: “There always seem to be lots of goals in the semis and both teams have forwards capable of scoring.

“An edgy 1-1 would do Ipswich but I feel there could be more goals than that, though I'm still going for the draw on the night.”

Holland, who on Sunday night won the Young Reds' Player of the Year award, was runner up in Players' Player of the Year and third in the supporters' vote.

Keeper Dean Kiely won two awards with former Town defender Hermann Hreidarsson runner-up in the Supporters' Player of the Year.

Holland will link up with the Republic of Ireland squad next week as they embark on a series of warm up friendlies before starting on their World Cup qualifying campaign.

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