Former Ipswich favourite Naylor is eyeing a return to the Premier League
RICHARD Naylor has done the job he was taken to his home town club Leeds United to achieve.
The 34-year-old former Ipswich Town favourite played his part in lifting the Yorkshire-based side out of League One last season.
Now the central defender known as Bamm Bamm from his early days at Ipswich, who had a successful testimonial at Portman Road in 2008, has his sights set on a return to playing in the Premier League.
Naylor, along with another ex-Ipswich star Alex Bruce, is expected to start today’s game against the Blues on the bench as Leeds continue their search for an automatic Championship promotion place with three points at Elland Road today (kick-off 3pm).
“My contract runs out this summer and I’ve had a chat with manager Simon Grayson,” said Naylor, who was in the Town squad that won their place to the top flight in 1999/00.
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“Nothing has been decided yet, but I feel fit and feel that I have another season left in me.
“I’d love another crack at the Premier League, but my future is likely to remain up in the air until Leeds know what level they will be playing in next season.”
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Naylor’s career came close to coming to a premature end because of knee problems at Ipswich – a problem solved by placing an insert into his boot.
He underwent yet another knee operation before Christmas, but is now fully fit again and has come on late in the last two Leeds games – wins against Doncaster and Preston.
“I’ve found it hard to get back into the team, but I’m knocking on the door,” added Naylor, who joined Town straight from school and made 379 appearances and scored 46 goals including one in the 2000 play-off final at Wembley against Barnsley.
“When I arrived at Leeds two years ago they were half-way in League One yet they are a club geared up for the top flight.
“Ipswich have steadied the ship under the new manager and are one of the teams in the Championship that is capable of playing much better than their league position suggests.
“I must have had withdrawal symptoms causing me to have yet another knee operation but I’ve been fit for a month now.”
Naylor is taking his coaching badges as he looks to the future.
He was in the Town squad the last time the Blues played at Elland Road when the game was held up for 20 minutes following a late equaliser from Alan Lee in April 2007.
This was because fans strayed on to the pitch and confronted Ipswich supporters.
“There was a lot of frustration on the day as Alan’s goal virtually ensured that Leeds would be relegated,” said Naylor.
“There is no animosity aimed at Ipswich fans and genuine Leeds supporters were disgusted.
“It was dealt with by the authorities and is now best forgotten. It won’t have any effect on today’s game.”
WHAT are your memories of Richard Naylor during his time at Portman Road? Let us know by e-mailing email@example.com.