Town star eyes ‘a good week’
GARETH McAuley has set his sights on a good eight days to lift Ipswich Town back into serious promotion contenders.
The Blues central defender is eyeing a good display at Sheffield United on Saturday and then wins against Derby County and Barnsley at Portman Road next week.
Buoyed by back-to-back wins over Northampton Town in the Carling Cup and Millwall in the league, the 30-year-old knows the importance of keeping within touching distance of the npower Championship top six.
Manager Roy Keane described defeats against Coventry, Watford and Nottingham Forest between October 16 and 23 as ‘A bad week’.
McAuley now wants to enjoy ‘A good week.’
“We must now look to put a winning run together,” said McAuley.
“If we can manage three or four with the division so tight it would take us right back towards the top again.
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“But we know it won’t be easy and we have been working hard in training this week ensuring we don’t repeat the failings that led to those three defeats.
“We were left smarting - and hurting - and we paid a heavy penalty for conceding sloppy goals.
“We could well look back on the Millwall victory as a pivotal moment.
“In 50-odd previous games we had not suffered back-to-back defeats - then we lost three on the bounce.
“Now is a good time to make up for that.”
McAuley praised younger members of the Town squad picking out Tom Eastman and Ronan Murray for special mention.
“Tom has played in five wins and a draw and he’s enjoying himself as he learns the game,” said McAuley.
“He’s playing out of position, but he’s doing a fantastic job.
“And young Ronan puts himself around well and is a lively little customer who has proved he can score goals by his tally in the youth and reserve teams.”
Murray, 19, netted his first senior goal on his debut when he came on as a substitute in the Carling Cup victory at Exeter.
Now he is looking to find the net in the Championship after earning a regular place on the substitutes’ bench and being number four in the striking pecking order behind Jason Scotland, Tamas Priskin and Connor Wickham.
The lad from County Mayo, who is a Republic of Ireland Under-19 international, said:: “I’ve come off the bench lately and have been told by the staff I have done okay so I have to build on that and look to keep improving.
“My next goal is scoring a league goal. I thought I had scored at Watford the other week but it was disallowed.
“I have nearly done it in other games but nearly isn’t good enough. Hopefully the signs are there that I can come on and score and I need to prove that I can do that.”
Murray has now made eight first team appearances, all from the bench - five in the Championship and three in the Carling Cup.
Skipper David Norris is expected to be fit for the game against the Blades after taking a knock on the leg against Millwall with Keane having a full squad – apart from Darren O’Dea – to call on.
Chief executive Simon Clegg will be answering questions from fans at the Supporters’ Club annual general meeting at the Legends Bar, Portman Road tonight starting at 7.30pm.
Town’s home Carling Cup quarter-final against West Bromwich Albion will be played on Wednesday December 1 with a 7.45pm kick-off. The Blues play Norwich City at Carrow Road the previous Sunday.
Marton Fulop and Tamas Priskin are included in the Hungary squad for their friendly with Lithuania in Budapest on Wednesday November 17.