George still seeking first win on return

GEORGE Burley arrives tonight seeking his first win in five attempts at Portman Road as a manager since leaving five years ago besieged by problems.The Southampton boss has not been successful with his current club, or with Derby, since being sacked as the Blues boss and admits he is under strength for this attempt.

By Derek Davis

GEORGE Burley arrives tonight seeking his first win in five attempts at Portman Road as a manager since leaving five years ago besieged by problems.

The Southampton boss has not been successful with his current club, or with Derby, since being sacked as the Blues boss and admits he is under strength for this attempt.

Burley has seven senior players out injured with Nathan Dyer the latest to join the list casualties after picking up a calf injury in the 1-0 win over Blackpool on Saturday. He will be given a fitness test today.

Wayne Thomas, Chris Makin, Inigo Idiakez, Alexander Ostlund, Darren Powell and Claus Lundekvam are also missing through injury.

Saints lost on-loan West Ham defender Christian Dailly yesterday as he returned to Upton Park after an impressive two month spell, which has further weakened the back line.

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Burley admitted finances prevented Dailly staying for the third month as planned but is not dwelling on what he has not got.

Former Blues midfielder Jermaine Wright is expected to be drafted back into the 16 as the injury crisis deepens while Lucien Mettomo is also a candidate to replace Dailly at centre-back.

If Dyer does not make it Adam Hammill could come in for him with John Viafara playing at the back alongside Andrew Davies

Burley said: “We have a lot of players out injured which doesn't help but we've got a decent squad so it's a case of battling on, adjusting and working hard trying to get it right.

“It will be a big test. Ipswich have a 100% record at home and are playing some fantastic attacking football.

“I'm sure Jim is scratching his head thinking 'Why can't we do it away from home?'”

Although Saints have struggled they are still within striking distance of the play-off places.

Burley said: “It's amazing to think that if we win we would go above Ipswich and everyone is saying what a fantastic start to the season they have made.

“That shows that the league is so tight and there's still a lot to play for.

“I know their players well but we do our homework with any team. There's no doubt that at Portman Road there's a cracking atmosphere. They play tremendous football so it's going to be a difficult test but one we're looking forward to.”

Burley remains proud of what he achieved at Portman Road and the players he left behind, not to mention the manager he groomed.

Burley said: “I've watched Ipswich on TV and DVD without actually getting to Portman Road this season.

“I bought Pablo Counago from Celta Vigo as a youngster, he went back to Spain but has returned and matured and is a real threat in front of goal.

“They bought Jonathan Walters as a striker, he did quite well but they've moved him wide this season and I think he's been their player of the year so far.

“I took Tommy Miller to Ipswich and he's back there. He's got a great goal record from midfield. Jason De Vos is a stalwart holding the team together.

“Both teams try to entertain the public and get the ball down and pass it. Jim was always enthusiastic, a great trainer and a prime example of a manager who wants full-backs to join in and play through midfield and they've done tremendously well. He's taken to it very well.”

The lack of cash is symptomatic of the problems Burley is facing at a club that is in a state of virtual civil war in the boardroom.

Current chairman Kenneth Duleieu announced last night that he would be stepping down as soon as a suitable replacement could be found but divisions among the club's directors could make that difficult.

Takeover talks continue with SISU, a venture capitalist company linked with Ipswich Town earlier in the year, tabling a bid that some directors want to explore further while others, including former chairman Rupert Lowe have dismissed.