Jim not giving up without a fight

BLUES skipper Jim Magilton says he will know when the time is right for him to step aside but is not going to give his up place without a fight.The 35-year-old midfielder welcomes the competition from the hungry young guns but has warned the whipper-snappers that he will put the pressure on them to perform.

By Derek Davis

BLUES skipper Jim Magilton says he will know when the time is right for him to step aside but is not going to give his up place without a fight.

The 35-year-old midfielder welcomes the competition from the hungry young guns but has warned the whipper-snappers that he will put the pressure on them to perform.

Ian Westlake, who won Supporters' Player of the Year last season, has already shown his worth out wide and in central midfield. Antonio Murray has been used in the centre as well and is making big strides after missing much of last season through injury.


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Scott Mitchell went on for Magilton in both his substitute appearances and the Northern Ireland skipper who retired after reaching 50 caps is relishing the challenge.

Magilton said: “It is great that they are pushing for my place. It is really healthy.

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“Ipswich is a breeding ground for good footballers and you can see Antonio, Westy and Scott Mitchell are good players and here on merit so deserve the chance.

“If the manager feels they can do a better job then me then I will be more than happy to stand aside and help bring them through as best I can.

“But until that point I will be breathing down their necks and keeping them on their toes. I'm not giving up my place easily.

“When I retired from international football I felt there were a lot of good young players coming through. We had won the last few games when I was skipper but I felt it was the right time to step aside because if I had not I may have stopped good young players coming though.

“That applies the same with Ipswich.

“If that time came here where I felt I was stopping players coming through or I was not doing myself justice or I was not pulling my weight then I would step aside.”

Magilton has played in all three friendlies so far but it is tomorrow night's game at his old club Oxford United in their new Kassam Stadium that he is relishing.

Magilton signed for Oxford United from Liverpool when Brian Horton paid £100,000 for him in October 1990. The former Northern Ireland skipper was sold to Southampton for £600,000 and he flourished in the Premier League playing alongside the likes of Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier. A £1.6m move to Sheffield Wednesday started well but fell away badly, just like the Owls, and after an initial loan spell at Portman Road he made a £682,000 permanent in January 1999.

He said: “Oxford has the fondest of memories for me. I had a great time there and had a great relationship with everyone there. There are still a few familiar faces at Oxford and I'm looking forward to going back and seeing them.

“I still have close contacts there and it is a club whose results I always look out for.

“They really gave me my start in league football. All my first big appearances all came there and I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

“Brian Horton looked after me, he made me skipper and I had a fantastic relationship with him. The supporters were unbelievable to me and it will be really nice to go back. Whenever I have been back they have been good to them and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.”

Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Osasuna follow, before the main event kicks off at home against Gillingham on August 7.

Magilton is not particularly bothered that Town did not score during the week in Denmark and it could even turn out to be a good thing.

He said: “Pre-season are curious things. You can have a fantastic pre-season and then start badly. Look at last year. We were scoring goals for fun and winning games yet when the real thing started we got two points in six games.

“Other times we have been hopeless in pre-season yet can start really well with something like five games without losing.

“I don't read too much into them and the main thing is to get yourself right and hope you don't pick up an injury.

“Pre-season tours are all about fitness. You can feel pretty lethargic really as there is a lot of rest in between training and games so it is all about getting yourself right for the season. We have a tough schedule from now on but it is all geared to that first game against Gillingham.”

Any young pretenders looking to start ahead of Magilton in that game have been warned.

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