Jim let off the leash

JIM Magilton will resume his starting role when Ipswich entertain Watford tomorrow - saving Joe Royle his hardest task as Blues' boss.The Town skipper was once again rested for the start of the Championship clash at Preston and Town paid the price, with a below par first-half and went a goal behind.

By Derek Davis

JIM Magilton will resume his starting role when Ipswich entertain Watford tomorrow - saving Joe Royle his hardest task as Blues' boss.

The Town skipper was once again rested for the start of the Championship clash at Preston and Town paid the price, with a below par first-half and went a goal behind.

Magilton's arrival as a half-time substitute prompted a marginally better second half and he played a part in the build-up for Tommy Miller's equaliser, when he played a ball across the pitch for Fabian Wilnis.


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Royle confirmed Magilton would start against Watford - and that he had been specifically rested at Deepdale so he would figure tomorrow and at home against QPR on Saturday.

Royle said: “Bearing in mind the two home games, I wanted Jim fresh so I gave him a rest. Maintaining our home form is vital to us, and Jim is vital to us, as it showed again.”

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Royle explained why leaving the 35-year-old Irishman out of the side is so difficult.

He said: “Jim is such an influential player for us. The other thing is telling him he is not playing. That is the hardest part of my job, because he wants to play in every game

“That is what is so brilliant about him, he is so enthusiastic and can't accept not playing. He can be a cantankerous old so-and-so when you have to say you want to save him for a game. He just doesn't do rest.”

Friday night's draw at Preston, after going a goal down, is not the first time this season that Magilton has come off the bench to help the Blues recover.

At Plymouth, Town were struggling to overcome the Pilgrims until Magilton went on as a 57th minute substitute and changed the game. He inspired Darren Currie's two goals, as the Blues went on to win 2-1.

But the Irishman could not prevent Town going down 3-1 at Millwall on Boxing Day. They were trailing 2-0 when he went on and, even though Shefki Kuqi scored shortly afterwards, they lost 3-1.

Magilton was an unused substitute at Watford in October when they drew 2-2.

Magilton missed the first four games of the season through injury and they lost at Derby and drew at Nottingham Forest.

Kevin Horlock, who made way for Magilton on Friday, may still keep his place if Ian Westlake fails to recover from a gash down an Achilles. Jason De Vos is another slight injury concern, with a tight calf, but Royle is confident both will be available.

James Scowcroft makes his 250th Town appearance tomorrow against Watford but is sweating on the possibility of missing the QPR game.

He picked up his fifth booking of the season at Preston, although referee Matt Messias will let Town know within the next 24 hours if he is going to rescind the card, after looking at a video of the tackle.

Tomorrow's opponents Watford didn't play over the weekend, as they were due to meet Leicester, who were involved in the FA Cup.

The Hornets have not won away from home since beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 at the end of October last year.

Their main threat comes from 26-goal strike duo Danny Webber, with 10 goals, and Heidar Helguson who has notched 16.

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