Burley tips Blues for top flight

GEORGE Burley is tipping his former club to make a serious challenge for promotion from the npower Championship this season.

But the man who spent a total of 22 years at Portman Road as player and manager is planning to do them no favours on Saturday.

His current club Crystal Palace take on Roy Keane’s Blues at Selhurst Park at the weekend when Burley will be joined in the Londoner’s camp by a host of ex-Town players.

Former Blues favourites Owen Garvan, David Wright, Darren Ambrose and Alan Lee are all in line to face Ipswich, and Burley is expecting a close game.

“Ipswich have a lot of exciting players and they are one of the favourites for promotion,” said Burley.

“And after the good start they have had and the strength of their squad they have every chance.”

And Burley sees the presence of wealthy businessman Marcus Evans at Portman Road as a plus.

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“He has invested a great deal of money into the club, and this is shown in the quality of player they have at the club.

“You don’t spend 22 years at a club and not have feelings for it, and Ipswich Town will always be close to my heart.

“But I have another challenge now and one that I am enjoying.

“We are in the early stages of re-building and when I arrived there were just 10 senior players on the books.

“Hopefully we can make an impact this season, but if not then we wil be seeking a top six place in 2011/12.”

Burley helped develop a host of young talent during his time in charge of Town leading them to the Premier League in 2000 and the UEFA Cup the following year.

“This is one of my strengths with the likes of Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble, Darren Bent, Richard Wright and Darren Ambrose at Ipswich, Tom Huddlestone at Derby County and Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott at Southampton,” added Burley.

“We have exciting young players at Palace and they are beginning to emerge and with a great fan base and a new consortium running the club I am optimistic about the future.”

After being docked 10 points for going into adminsitration, Palace saved themselves from relegation on the last day of last season – and managed to escape a winding up order in the summer.

“The Championship is a competitive league and every team is capable of beating each other,” said Burley, who watched his reserves lose 2-1 to a West Ham team that included Dyer at right back yesterday afternoon.

“In an ideal world I’d like to win on Saturday as loyalty to former clubs goes out of the window at such times, but then see Ipswich and ourselves in good positions at the end of the campaign.”

Burley is pleased to be working with Ambrose again. “I gave him his first team debut at Arsenal,” added Burley.

“And I’m pleased he’s committed himself to the club by signing a three-year contract.

“Owen Garvan started our first league game and did well while David Wright came back from a hamstring problem to look good at Barnsley on Saturday.”

Lee has already got himself on the scoresheet this term, and along with Garvan and Wright is still based in Suffolk despite being a Palace player now for nearly two years.”

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