Kuqi backs Pablo

SHEFKI Kuqi has backed strike partner Pablo Counago to rediscover top form again soon, writes Derek Davis.The Kosovan-born front-man, who has knocked in 13 goals this season, five for Sheffield Wednesday, is convinced Counago can get back to the sort of free-scoring run that saw him net six goals in as many games during October.

SHEFKI Kuqi has backed strike partner Pablo Counago to rediscover top form again soon, writes Derek Davis.

The Kosovan-born front-man, who has knocked in 13 goals this season, five for Sheffield Wednesday, is convinced Counago can get back to the sort of free-scoring run that saw him net six goals in as many games during October.

An injury set the Spaniard back and since his return in mid-December he has only scored in one game – against West Ham – and is likely to be dropped for the second time in three games when Darren Bent takes his place against Bradford City today.

Kuqi said: "Pablo has the quality to get back scoring again soon.


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"All strikers need to forget what people are saying about them and just go out and score goals.

"During December I had a bad couple of games when I could not get in the groove so I know what it is like.

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"Pablo is the type of player who can turn in a moment and get among the goals.

"He can do a lot of things that Darren and I probably can't do. He is a different style of player to us. If he plays against someone big and strong he can turn them very quickly and get past them in a flash.

"He has been doing well in training and just needs a goal to get his confidence back.

"In football people do have bad games while others have good games, then next time it will change so we all need to be patient with each other and support each other through the leaner times."

The 27-year-old who joined Ipswich from Sheffield Wednesday, after starting his English career at Stockport County, is also convinced Town's indomitable team spirit will see them remain promotion candidates.

He cites the recent public spat between him and skipper Jim Magilton as a positive example of how they can answer their critics.

Kuqi said: "I have been to two different clubs in England before I came here and Ipswich has a great team spirit.

"In Finland I was playing for a championship-winning side all the time and the feeling you have is brilliant because you are always winning.

"Here, even though we don't always win, there is a similar feeling because it is a good team.

"The team is really close and we work for each other. Sometimes it goes wrong and we don't get the result or performance we want but everyone believes we can get promoted.

"The game at Coventry showed how much we want to win. We gained a point away from home but no one was happy. We were frustrated and angry and people showed their emotion.

"But it is better that way. What I don't like is when you lose a game and people say okay, we will win the next one, but you come to the next game and they say it still doesn't matter.

"Fans want us to win but sometimes things don't go as we want them to. As players we want to win just as much and we get just as upset when it doesn't happen."

With Bradford today and then Burnley, Preston and Stoke City before going to Norwich, Kuqi feels Ipswich have a great chance to start the sort of run that saw them lose one league game in 10 earlier in the season.

He said: "This division is so tight that if we went on another sort of run as we did earlier in the season not only will we be right in the play-offs but we will have caught the top two.

"Lots of people may worry that we have dropped out of the play-offs but we will change things around and can surprise people by reaching the top two."

Kuqi is not concerned that manager Joe Royle has said he wants to bring in a goal-getter to make the division's top scorers even more potent.

He said: "That is down to the manager, he knows what he is doing. All we can do as players is concentrate on our job."

Nor does he feel harping on about the past few years and the players who have left helps the current side.

He said: "What has gone has gone and the players who have gone have gone. It is no good living in the past. It is easy to say what we might have done in retrospect but that doesn't help us now.

"You have to live in the present and concentrate on the future."

For his part Kuqi has underlined his commitment to the Town cause by putting his international career with Finland on hold until the World Cup qualifiers begin next autumn.

He said: "I have not ended my international career. They are great games to play in but I have asked not to be included in these friendlies because I want to concentrate on Ipswich and getting into the Premiership – then I can think about internationals again."

Although John McGreal is fit again, Fabian Wilnis is still out with a shoulder injury and so Scott Mitchell is included in the squad.

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