Kevin Phillips backs Michael Chopra to find form – but only if he plays

BLUES nemesis Kevin Phillips has backed Michael Chopra to be the man to fire Town away from the Championship drop-zone – if Paul Jewell gives him a run in the team.

While the Blackpool hitman made it 11 goals in 16 games against Town with his equaliser on Saturday, Chopra was forced to watch the entire 90 minutes from the touchline.

Even when the impressive Jason Scotland limped off clutching his hamstring, Jewell surprisingly turned to Tamas Priskin instead – just three days before releasing the Hungarian international.

It was the first league match this season that Chopra had not featured – either from the start or off the bench – as Town let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2.

Now after Jewell admitted his �1 million marksman was suffering a crisis of confidence, Chopra has received a vote of confidence from veteran striker Phillips.

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The 38-year-old said: “When Michael Chopra is playing regularly and scoring, there’s not a more confident player in the Championship.

“He has had his off-field problems and I am sure he is dealing with what in the best possible way. But on the field, Michael is an excellent centre forward and give him a run in any team and he will score goals.”

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Chopra has shown sparse flashes of his undoubted ability this season and remains Town’s top scorer among the current playing staff with seven goals.

But his last strike was seven matches ago and you have to go back to Reading away on New Year’s Eve for his last start.

He is set to start on the bench again with Scotland expected to win his fitness battle for Saturday’s trip to Leeds United.

But Phillips said: “I have learnt in the last 20 years that centre forwards need runs in games and confidence is a major issue in my opinion. If you are not playing week-in, week-out, and you are not scoring, it has a major effect. “It weren’t too long ago he scored against Barnsley and I expect him to come good sooner rather than later.”

And as for Town’s fate. Phillips, who almost signed for the Blues on three separate occasions, said: “It is worrying time for Ipswich. They have got the right manager in place and with the owner and money Town have got, I expect them to be alright.”

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