Injured strikers miss two whole seasons!
INJURED Ipswich strikers have missed the equivalent of two Championship seasons through injury this season.Seven Town forwards have been absent for a total of 92 games, an unprecedented injury curse that has played a massive part in the club's failure to mount a promotion challenge.
By Mel Henderson
INJURED Ipswich strikers have missed the equivalent of two Championship seasons through injury this season.
Seven Town forwards have been absent for a total of 92 games, an unprecedented injury curse that has played a massive part in the club's failure to mount a promotion challenge.
The main victims have been Nicky Forster and Sam Parkin, whose respective knee and ankle problems have seen them miss a combined tally of 53 games.
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Boss Joe Royle said: “The statistics confirm what we already knew - that injuries to our front players have made life hard for us all season.
“I signed Nicky and Sam last summer with the intention of playing them together as a new partnership and here we are, with the season almost over, and they have only managed to start six games together.
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“You can see how we have missed Nicky. He is back playing now, has scored two goals in two games and had a number of shots blocked.
“The way things have worked out, Nicky and Sam have never really had a chance to gel as a double act.
“Yet despite their problems, they are on five goals each, which makes them our joint leading scorers. That says it all.”
Royle has been plagued with injuries to attacking players throughout an indifferent season that only briefly raised hopes of a third successive play-off finish.
An improved run from the turn of the year saw Town lose just once in 10 outings, but the top six dream was quickly shattered as they suffered a lapse that has seen them fail to win any of their last eight games.
Royle added: “It seemed we were jinxed when we brought Ricardo Fuller in to partner Alan Lee and suffered from a combination of red tape and a red card.
“It looked as if we would have Alan and Nicky through to the end of the season, but Alan's hamstring injury means we won't see him again. It has been one thing after another and it has been a new experience for me. I have never known a season like it in all my time as a manager.
“I even rang Alan Curbishley at Charlton to ask if Francis Jeffers would be available to join us on loan and Alan promised he would speak to the player about it. I couldn't believe it when he rang back and said Francis had been injured in training and been forced to come off with damaged knee ligaments.
“That tended to sum up our luck. Players were getting injured when I just made an inquiry about them!”
While front players have suffered most of all, Town have also been dealt a number of other costly injury blows.
Jason De Vos, Gavin Williams, Owen Garvan and Ian Westlake (twice) have all had lengthy absences in a trouble-torn campaign.
No wonder Royle added: “It's little wonder that part of me just wants this season to end, but at the same time I can't argue with recent results being disappointing.
“I am not going to try to tell supporters otherwise, or to tell them that we've actually done quite well despite our many problems.
“I can assure them the effort is being put in and recent setbacks have made us even more determined to finish on a high note against Derby at the weekend.”