Jim looks for Town to rise to challenge
JIM Magilton will be looking for his side to rise to a new challenge at Royal Antwerp tonight.Even though Antwerp are only a second division Belgian side they should represent a step up in class for Ipswich Town after the string of non-league sides they have faced without any real conviction in pre-season.
By Derek Davis
JIM Magilton will be looking for his side to rise to a new challenge at Royal Antwerp tonight.
Even though Antwerp are only a second division Belgian side they should represent a step up in class for Ipswich Town after the string of non-league sides they have faced without any real conviction in pre-season.
Although the first team managed to beat Burton Albion, Kettering Town Crawley Town and Rushden & Diamonds they were not totally convincing and were humbled 3-0 at Stevenage.
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The reserves drew at Chelmsford and comfortably beat Bury Town with players returning from injury the biggest positive coming from those games.
It has all been part of a master plan according to Magilton whose teams have also strolled to wins over local non-league sides in behind closed doors games.
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Magilton said: “We wanted games where we had plenty of the ball and used it well. Now we are stepping I up against a different type of opposition, which we won't ordinarily come up against.
“In the games against Antwerp and Panathinaikos I expect us to have to chase the ball more. It also means we have to be better at keeping possession.”
The Blues go to Antwerp after missing out on a pre-season trip to Austria where both Stoke City, who played Real Madrid, and Plymouth Argyle have enjoyed a successful training week. Although Town have pencilled in a friendly at Leiston on Friday, their next big test for the senior side will be against Greek side Panathinaikos, where Sir Alf Ramsey was once director of football, on Sunday in the only warm up match at Portman Road.
Sylvain Legwinski was pulled out of the squad that travelled to Antwerp by coach and train yesterday so he could continue his rehabilitation for a foot injury with fitness coach Simon Thadani.
Richard Naylor is still struggling with a bruised toe that has proved troublesome, while Jamie Peters is also working on fitness after joining up late with the squad following the Under-20s World Cup in Canada.
The Belgian club has close ties with Manchester United who often supply players on loan to the club currently managed by Warren Joyce, the former Bolton, Preston, Plymouth, Burnley and Hull midfielder.
Although none has yet been sent over from Old Trafford, a number of last season's intake caught Magilton's eye.
Johnny Evans, who chose Sunderland over the Blues, helped Antwerp in the first part of the season, along with defender Ryan Shawcross.
Midfielder Darron Gibson played more than 30 games for Antwerp after being sent there as United's youth team player of the year in 2006, while Fraizer Campbell banged in 21 goals in 33 league appearances. One player still on loan from Manchester United is Togo international Maman Souleymane who has been at the Bosuil Stadium for four years after work permit problems meant he could not play for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Antwerp, who reached the Division Two play-offs last season but failed to win promotion, have added three English players to their squad during the summer. They have signed former Everton youngster Sean Doherty who was also at Port Vale and Accrington Stanley, while Northern Ireland under 21 international Henry McStay and been joined by Ritchie Ryan who left Boston when they were relegated to the Conference North.