Duncan warns Town about Ward

FORMER Ipswich Town manager John Duncan today warned the Blues to beware of Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward.

Elvin King

FORMER Ipswich Town manager John Duncan today warned the Blues to beware of Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward.

It was Duncan who took minnows Chesterfield to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1996/97 so he knows all about upsets in the world's most glamorous football competition.

Duncan watched Chesterfield play Luton on Boxing Day and was impressed by 22-year-old rising star Ward, who has earned comparisons with Jon Walters who Town signed from Chester after impressing in the third round against them two years ago.

“Chesterfield have got goals in them,” said Duncan. “And Jamie Ward is a lively customer who puts the ball into the net and puts defences under pressure.”

And Duncan also says that Town must be wary of their former midfielder Darren Currie, who is still pulling the strings in midfield at the age of 34.

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“I watch the Spireites quite regularly and Darren has lost none of his skill,” added Duncan, who managed Ipswich from June 1987 until May 1990 when he was replaced by John Lyall.

“Chesterfield have been on the verge of going on a good run, and it will be no easy game for Ipswich.

“They will appreciate the pitch and the occasion. Jim Magilton's side will start strong favourites, but they still have a job to do.”

Ward has scored 31 goals in 72 appearances for Chesterfield since joining the League Two club from Torquay two years ago.

Walters' Chester were reprieved in 2006/07 because Bury fielded an ineligible player in the second round, and Chesterfield have trodden a similar path having 'lost' a replay to a Droylsden side that have been thrown out after using a player who should have been serving a suspension.

If Ward stars against Town fate may take a similar hand to the one that enabled Walters to move up the ladder - although there is nothing to suggest Ipswich have shown any previous interest in Ward.

Looking back on Chesterfield's ill-fated FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, Duncan says: “We did not get the breaks and I have lost count of the number of times I have looked back and thought what might have been.

“But it is history now and after a couple of debatable refereeing decisions we had to go into a replay that Middlesbrough won.”

Duncan is now technical manager for the League Managers' Association and he also works occasionally as a TV summariser.

He also manages Loughborough University FC in the Midlands Combination and has a home game against Nuneaton Griff on Saturday.

During his time at Portman Road, Duncan was Town's third most successful manager with a winning percentage of 45.3% behind Alf Ramsey (47.7) and George Burley (45.5). Bobby Robson is fourth with 44.5. Duncan's impressive record was achieved in the second tier of England football.

Looking back he recalls: “I had three decent seasons with Ipswich but we did not quite do enough to get back into the top flight.

“The gap between my predecessor Bobby Ferguson going and my appointment did not help, although we had some exceptional performers like John Wark at the club.”