Jim urges fans to rock Portman Road

BLUES boss Jim Magilton knows home form will determine whether the Blues qualify for the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs.

Elvin King

BLUES boss Jim Magilton knows home form will determine whether the Blues qualify for the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs.

He made a special plea today through The Evening Star for Town fans to get behind the team at tonight's game against in-form Burn-ley at Portman Road - the first of five remaining games on Suffolk soil.

“After their last two terrific away displays the lads deserve the ground to be absolutely rocking tonight,” he said.

Ipswich, who are in tenth place and six points off sixth-placed Cardiff City, will be seeking to build on their 1-0 success at third-placed Read-ing at the weekend, which followed an impressive draw at leaders Wolverhampton a week ago. Magilton knows an improvement in home form - Town have only won one of their last seven league matches at Portman Road - is necessary if they are to significantly move up the table.

He admits his players are feeling the pressure at home, but with the help of supporters this can be put right tonight.

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“If we're to finish in the play-offs, our form at home is going to hold the key,” said the Blues boss, who looks likely to field an unchanged side. “I'm the first to admit we haven't got anywhere near the levels of consistency we had at home last year. But we have to find that again now when it really counts.

“We have one or two players that have become a little nervy playing at Portman Road, but we have to be brave on the ball and take the chances that come our way.

“Our fans have been left frustrated by the way our results have gone at home, but we need everyone right behind the players now.

“We had 2,000 fans at Reading and they gave all the players such a lift. Now I want the same again tonight. We need the supporters generating a great atmosphere and they can make the difference.”

Magilton and his men were booed from the field after a 3-0 reverse in the last senior game played at Portman Road against Southampton.

Lifted by the signing of hot property Giovani Dos Santos, on loan from Spurs, and two good away results Town fans are eagerly anticipating tonight's action. Town need another 18 points from eight games to have a realistic chance of a top six finish.

That is a maximum of just two more defeats and the odds are stacked against them. But if they can collect six points from this and Saturday's home match against jinx side Watford then the play-off dream will return.

Shane Supple has been targeted by new Oldham manager Joe Royle as his first loan signing.

This will depend on Ipswich gaining a loan replacement back-up goalkeeper. Sunderland's Nick Colgan could make a return to Portman Road after understudying Stephen Bywater for the final four months of last season. Royle said: “Goalkeeper is a hotspot for us at the moment and I think we need to bring someone in.”

He hopes a deal to take Supple can be completed by the end of the week.

Oldham have lost Jan Budtz back to Hartlepool after a loan spell while Greg Fleming and Mark Crossley are injured.

Owen Garvan has been named in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad for home matches against Spain and Turkey on March 27 and March 31.