McAuley ready for challenge from top two

GARETH McAuley is up for the task of blocking out the npower Championship top two at Portman Road over the next five days.

The central defender was in tip-top form when the Blues made it a hat-trick of clean sheets in the goalless draw at Portsmouth on Saturday.

Tomorrow night Queens Park Rangers come to town followed on Saturday by Cardiff City - the only unbeaten clubs in the division along with Ipswich.

If McAuley and his defensive partners emerge intact come Saturday tea time it will be the first time the club has gone five matches without conceding since April 1997.

“It’s a mark of where we are that we were disappointed with a point at Portsmouth - a hard place to go and against a team that will take a lot of points off visiting teams,” said McAuley.

“But it was still a good point and we’re now really looking forward to two tough games.”

Portsmouth might be bottom and have scored just one goal, but their strengthened line-up gave Ipswich their biggest test of the season by some distance.

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The magnificent McAuley and company stood firm with the 30-year-old praising the decision to spent more time on the training ground pre-season.

He explained: “This helped a lot. We were able to work on our shape and how to stop teams and how we were going to break them down.

“Instead of perhaps going a little cold into matches we already have that spark - and we have players in the squad who can come in and know the score as well.

“We wanted to become hard to beat - and we talked a great deal about that.

“I‘m really enjoying my football and feel fit and strong and while it may be good for me it is more important that the team is staying tight together and getting results.

“The lads in front of the back four are helping us and Marton Fulop behind is making good saves when called upon.

“We are running for each other, and this is a big plus.

“We expect two tight games this week but we believe in ourselves and are taking a team attitude into games.

“If we continue to snuff sides out we have the players to win us games at the other end.”

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