Newcastle night out was my idea, admits apologetic Michael Chopra

IPSWICH Town striker Michael Chopra has revealed the infamous Newcastle night out which led to him and team-mate Jimmy Bullard being punished by the club was all his idea.

The Town duo both turned up late for training on the first day of March after being spotted at a string of nightclubs in Chopra’s native north east the previous evening.

Bullard was suspended on full pay for two weeks, while Chopra – who made public his battle against a severe gambling addiction last October – was fined two weeks’ wages but continued to train and play.

“It was my idea to go to Newcastle, Jimmy just came with me,” explained Chopra, the 14-goal striker speaking for the first time about the incident ahead of today’s game at Watford.

“I was trying to get one or two of the other boys to come too but they were strong enough to say no.

“I let myself down, I let the club down and everybody that has tried to help me. I made the decision to go there and I realise now that I should have just stayed with the lads (at a club-sanctioned team bonding session in London).

“I think the manager was right to punish us in different ways – he’s hurt us both. We’ve got to put all that in the past now, focus on our football and look to the future.

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“You always learn in life. I’ve made mistakes in my life before and that was another mistake. It won’t happen again.”

Today, Town – who have claimed 23 points from a possible 30 – come up against a Hornets side who have also climbed up the Championship table in recent weeks following a resurgence in form. Both are nine points adrift of the play-off places with nine games still to be played.

“We’ll keep going until the end,” said Chopra. “If we can make it into the play-offs then so be it, but we’ve got to take each game as it comes. This game against Watford is a must-win if we are to stand any chance. It’s a good challenge for us.”

The striker – who spent a month on loan at Watford as a Newcastle United youngster – continued: “They were one of my first loan clubs I went to. I went there for a month, played in an FA Cup semi-final at the age of 17/18 which was an honour and scored four goals in one game against Burnley – I’ve got good memories of that spell.

“Sean Dyche (current Watford boss) was in the team playing centre-back back then. I remember him always shouting, telling me to hold the ball up and get on the end of crosses. He was one of the senior lads that helped me early on in my career. You never forget those sort of people.

“I think they are more of a selling club than a team that looks to get promoted these days. They’ve been in this division for quite a long time now and, no disrespect, they look happy to sit and play in the Championship and have the attitude ‘if we get to the play-offs then so be it’.”

– See today’s EADT for full match preview.