Clarke battling to be fit for QPR

BILLY Clarke is battling to be fit to play against QPR next Saturday.The Blues striker was ruled out of the Republic of Ireland friendly against Sweden last night and faces a race against time to be able to play against England in his home-town of Cork on Wednesday.

By Derek Davis

BILLY Clarke is battling to be fit to play against QPR next Saturday.

The Blues striker was ruled out of the Republic of Ireland friendly against Sweden last night and faces a race against time to be able to play against England in his home-town of Cork on Wednesday.

Owen Garvan played against the Swedes and is expected to keep his place against the English at Turners' Cross.

Clarke has forced his way into the Blues starting side and strong performances made him favourite to keep out Gary Roberts at Loftus Road next week.

But if Clarke fails to be fit then Roberts could return and manager Jim Magilton dismissed reports that he was being lined-up for a return to Accrington Stanley in a loan move, or would be sold in the January window.

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Magilton said: “There is nothing in that. Gary is still very much part of my plans.

“Sometimes it can help a player to take a step back and watch from the sidelines. We have done that with Gary, and Alex (Bruce) last week, but they will both be back.”

Also hoping to be back after a scan on his shoulder injury confirmed it was muscle damage and not a break, is Shane Supple.

The keeper had to pull out of the Irish squad to play Sweden with the injury but hoped to be ready to deputise Neil Alexander at Loftus Road next weekend.

Ipswich have once again been linked with Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, although the player has pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad through injury.

Magilton has made no secret of his admiration for Evans and like a number of other clubs has been alerted to the possibility that he may be available on loan after Alex Ferguson said he intended to send a number of youngsters out to gain first team experience.

With no first team game today, Town fans have the opportunity to watch the up and coming stars with the Under 18s entertaining Chelsea, at Playford Road in an 11am kick off.

With Jordan Rhodes on loan at Oxford United, Jack Ainsley is hoping to recover from a hip injury to play.

Ipswich Town Under-18s probable squad: Plummer, Ward, Clemo, Smith, Fenn, Watson, Lambe, Reason, Williams, Tooms, Murphy, Ainsley, Calver, Barrett, Hyam.

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