Holland: Royle deserved award

BLUES captain Matt Holland has praised Joe Royle's leadership skills and says his manager of the month award was fully deserved.Speaking from a hotel in Tirana ahead of this evening's European qualifying group match against Albania, the Republic of Ireland midfielder told me: “It's brilliant news and he thoroughly deserves it."

BLUES captain Matt Holland has praised Joe Royle's leadership skills and says his manager of the month award was fully deserved, writes Derek Davis.

Speaking from a hotel in Tirana ahead of this evening's European qualifying group match against Albania, the Republic of Ireland midfielder told me: “It's brilliant news and he thoroughly deserves it. I know he will say it is a team effort and all that but he really has led the club superbly and got the players going together.

“Along with Willie Donachie and Tony Mowbray and all the coaches, Joe has guided us to within a whisker of the play-offs and that is as much down to their hard work as it is us going out and performing on the pitch.”

Royle scooped the award after Town won four and drew four games during March and hoisted themselves to seventh place in Division One.


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Colchester United boss Phil Parkinson completed his first month in management by taking the Division Two award, while former Ipswich Town star Brian Talbot picked up the Division Three accolade after guiding Rushden & Diamonds to within a place and three points of leaders Hartlepool.

Royle said: “It is a lovely honour and while I accept it as the figurehead of the management this is a reflection of the hard work and effort put in by people like Willie, Tony, all the staff and the whole team.”

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He was also unfazed at the so-called 'curse' that seems to hit teams whose managers claim the monthly gong.

“I'm not superstitious - fingers crossed, touch wood we will be okay against Forest on Saturday,” he added.

With Thomas Gaardsoe struggling with a groin injury, Holland could drop back into defence on Saturday against Nottingham Forest allowing Royle to stick with the same midfield which performed so well at Gillingham on Saturday.

Top scorer Darren Bent has had a hamstring tear confirmed by a scan and is rated extremely doubtful for the weekend.

Royle said: “Neither will train this week and we will give them a check on Friday but both are doubtful at this stage.”

Holland, who returns on Friday, has worked under six managers this season and was delighted to see ex-Town manager George Burley being appointed interim manager at Derby County.

He said: “It is good news for George. I know he was itching to get back in the game and back onto the training pitch. Only time will tell where it will lead but he will enjoy being back at a big club in a job he will relish.”

Along with Burley and Royle and Tony Mowbray in a caretaker-manager capacity, Holland is on his third international manager after Mick McCarthy, Don Givens for one game and now Brian Kerr.

He said: “I have been fortunate to have worked under six very different men in a short space of time. They all have their own ideas and ways of doing things but so far I have enjoyed working with them all.”

The 28-year-old, who wins his 30th cap tonight, will make his 254th league appearance for Ipswich on Saturday. His eighth international since August makes this his 56th competitive game of the season so far.

It may be glib to say but there really are no easy games in international football as England discovered last Saturday against Liechtenstein and the Republic found in Georgia, and Holland is expecting a tough game tonight.

He said: “Albania is always an intimidating place to come to anyway, perhaps not as violent as Georgia, but it will be difficult.

“They have showed what a good team they are already by beating Russia at the weekend but we know we have to win if we want to go to Portugal for the finals next year.”

The Irish game kicks off at 5.30pm BST tonight.

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