Ban threat won't curb Thatcher's desire

THE threat of a 15-match ban will not temper Ben Thatcher's enthusiasm and desire to perform for new club Ipswich Town.The 32-year-old has had the punishment hanging over his head since the FA hammered him for a foul on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes while playing for Manchester City.

Derek Davis

THE threat of a 15-match ban will not temper Ben Thatcher's enthusiasm and desire to perform for new club Ipswich Town.

The 32-year-old has had the punishment hanging over his head since the FA hammered him for a foul on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes while playing for Manchester City.

But Thatcher, who courted controversy while playing for City in China, and earlier in his career when he was at Wimbledon, won't let it affect his approach.

Thatcher said: “It has not bothered me over the past two years so I'm not going to let it now.”

The only thing concerning Thatcher is keeping on the right side of new manager Jim Magilton.

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He said: “My aim is to keep the manager happy and play every week.”

After a trial with Wolves, Thatcher was also offered a deal with West Ham by manager Alan Curbishley. However, after getting booed by Hammers fans when he played against Villareal the former Millwall defender chose the Blues.

He said: “He (Curbishley) offered me the chance to play there for a year and I was very grateful for the offer, but I chose Ipswich.

“They are both big clubs and even though West Ham are in the Premier League I feel Ipswich will be and it was a difficult decision, but I just felt right with Ipswich. At 32 I have experience and am another voice in the dressing room.”

Although he admits being a bit short of full fitness, Thatcher feels ready to play at Burnley when called upon and already knows his new team-mates after spending a week with them in Belfast last month.

Thatcher said: “It has come a bit full circle and here I am.

“It was horrible sitting at home waiting for something to happen. My mates were phoning up saying how hard the running is but I would have given my back teeth to be doing it at a club.

“I had the week with Ipswich in Belfast, trained with Wolves and played a couple of games with West Ham. I'm not quite where I would like to be fitness-wise but I'm near enough and looking forward to getting games under my belt.”

Town boss Magilton is delighted to add more experience, after also securing 34-year-old Iván Campo, but is not worried by advancing ages.

He said: “Age is not a problem, Ben has matured and as you get older you can see and smell things before they happen.

“The modern-day footballer looks after themselves better and with the nutritional side of things, the warm down and stretching has helped push the age up.

“Football is now catching up with other sportsmen in that and that is why there is more longevity in football now.”

Magilton has welcomed the tough-tackling Thatcher to Ipswich Town and expects his experience and steel will benefit his leaky defence.

The 32-year-old goes straight into the squad to face Burnley on Saturday and along with Iván Campo goes some way to help replacing Jason de Vos, Fabian Wilnis, Sylvain Legwinski and Sito Castro.

Magilton said: “We lost that experience last year and Ben will help us in the dressing room and with the youngsters.

“Ben has played in top quality sides and has Premier League experience. He has already travelled with us and the lads got to know him a bit when he came with us in Belfast. Just adding that sort of experience helps bring the sort of composure you need.”

Thatcher's15-game suspended ban will end after Town's game with Watford and Magilton is not concerned by the threat.

He said: “Ben has had that hanging over his head for the past couple of years so it doesn't bother me. He will tell you he is looking forward not back. He is coming to a good club who has given him an opportunity to come and play.

“Tackling is a big part of his game and that is why so many big clubs have sought him. You can't win anything without aggression but you have to do it the proper way.”