Lee a major injury doubt for Stoke game

ALAN Lee is a major injury doubt for tomorrow, leaving Blues boss Joe Royle scratching his head wondering what his attack against Stoke City will be.Royle is keen to put Richard Naylor back in the middle of his defence but admits he may have to use the veteran in his old role as a forward once more.

By Derek Davis

ALAN Lee is a major injury doubt for tomorrow, leaving Blues boss Joe Royle scratching his head wondering what his attack against Stoke City will be.

Royle is keen to put Richard Naylor back in the middle of his defence but admits he may have to use the veteran in his old role as a forward once more.

Lee is struggling with a groin strain and missed training yesterday and the situation will be assessed again today, leaving Royle unsure about his starting line-up for Portman Road tomorrow.


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“We will see how everyone is but I have to admit at this stage I don't know what the team will be.

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“Lee is the key to everything. If he is fit he will play with Darren Currie but if not then we will have to use Naylor up front.”

Town's problem of experienced strikers may be eased next week with Nicky Forster coming back from a knee operation - he should play against Norwich Reserves on Monday and then be back for the Derby match.

But Royle discounted the option of playing teenage strikers Dean Bowditch and Danny Haynes together up front, although both could be involved at some stage against Stoke.

Royle said: “We want to win the game.

“We want to finish as high as we can. If we can't finish sixth then I would dearly love for us to finish seventh, which would be a fantastic season given what has happened to us.

“It would also be nice to finish above our neighbours Norwich.”

The Blues could have as many as four 18-year-olds playing on Saturday, with at least three starting as Chris Casement is in line to make his full debut at right-back.

The Blues have concerns height-wise and are looking to stem the number of headers won by the opposition in the Town box.

The last four goals conceded have come from headers and while Jason De Vos has been powerful in the air he can't mark everyone. The Canadian international has a sore toe but should keep his place in the heart of defence whatever happens.

Scott Barron is back in the squad and could reclaim the left-back spot from Jay McEveley, who has done well to return so early from a serous knee injury.

Dean McDonald may lose out once more but he is attracting interest from Colchester United, Boston and Blackpool after being told he will not be getting a new contract in the summer.

Academy defender James Krause will be offered a year's professional contract after coming through a couple of reserve team games without problems and proving his fitness.

Stoke boss Johan Boskamp will use the game to give a couple of his young players match experience and is ready to thrust centre-back Wilkinson into the fray in place of Clint Hill and move Marlon Broomes to left back so Michael Duberry can return to the starting line-up.

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