Naylor aiming for top form once again

BLUES skipper Richard Naylor has pushed thoughts of a new contract to the back of his mind as he concerns himself with the more pressing matter of hitting to form once again.

Derek Davis

BLUES skipper Richard Naylor has pushed thoughts of a new contract to the back of his mind as he concerns himself with the more pressing matter of hitting to form once again.

Naylor is one of 14 players out of contract at the end of the season, but experience has taught him not to panic about the future until much nearer the end of the season.

He said: “I spoke the gaffer and he told me he would be looking at all the new contracts in the new-year and I'm fine about that.

“I don't let it concern me. The gaffer will speak to me when he is ready and I will wait for that. All I can do is concentrate on my form and playing as best I can.”

Naylor admits it would a wrench to leave Portman Road and whether this will be his last year in a town shirt, but adopts a philosophical approach to the thought.

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He said: “It crosses my mind year-in year-out, but I don't worry about it. If I let that worry me then that could affect form so I can't worry about it. I appreciate the situation and accept it.

“It makes no difference if I have been here as long as I have or just 12 months then it would be just a shard.

“That is football and footballer have to move.”

Although dogged by injuries Naylor has made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra and has no intention of hanging up his boots.

He said: “I'm still as quick and as strong as anyone at the club so physically there are no problems there. I have plenty of football left in me and I'm just 31.

“I can compete and the only concern would be if I didn't have those attributes, but I do.”

Ipswich Town's longest-serving player was made club captain in the summer and after missing the opening game of the season forced his way back into the starting line up and formed a regular partnership with team captain Gareth McAuley in central defence.

The duo enjoyed a purple patch between the end of September and mid-November with three clean sheets in a nine-game run with just one loss.

But McAuley picked up an injury which allowed Alex Bruce to get back in the side and he kept his place when the Ulsterman returned, with Naylor losing out as his form dipped.

He said: “I was playing better earlier in the season. Maybe after being left out I lost a bit of confidence and Gareth and I have not regained the form that we had built up.

“Before he got injured and I got left out, we had built up a good relationship and we had good results, but for whatever reason I don't feel in the past couple of games we have not got back to where we were previously and it is important we do that - and the sooner the better.

“The whole back four is working hard to do that.

“There were positives from Coventry game and it was end to end. I felt it was a free kick for me but it wasn't given and he scored. “They are the fine margins we are living with in the championship.”

Town are looking for revenge against Birmingham after losing 2-1 at St Andrews and Naylor is aware of just how dangerous they can be after losing two in a row but hopes they will be below par once again.

He said: “They are a very good side and if they had come here on the back of a few of wins they would be full of confidence and playing really well so.

“Hopefully their confidence will have been knocked and we can take advantage but either way they are very good side.

“We went out to attack them, but didn't get the ball off them for half an hour so they showed us what a Premiership-quality side they are.

“They have Premier class players all over the pitch.

“It is a big game but one we are looking forward to and with a big crowd behind us. Hopefully we can use it as a springboard for the new-year. The seasons far has not lived up to what we hoped for, there is no point in denying that, but we are still not that far away from the play-off places.

“We have seen in the past that the team that hits new year in form can go on a run and get promoted so that is what we are aiming to do.”

Town have generally fared better against the top sides than those at the bottom, losing only to Wolves and Birmingham so far but memories of wins over high-flying City in previous year has boosted confidence.

Naylor said: “They are one of the top teams in the league and we have done well against top teams. We have beaten Reading and Burnley and they along with Wolves and Birmingham who beat us, are the top four in the division and two of those will go up automatically.

“This will be a good gauge of where we are.”

With Alex Bruce still suspended Naylor will keep his place, while Ben Thatcher returns after a one match ban and could start in place of David Wright who is a doubt with a hamstring strain.

Owen Garvan is also available after his one game suspension under the totting up rule.