Loan duo set for Town debuts

CHRIS Bart-Williams and Alan Mahon will make their debuts for third-from-bottom Ipswich against table-topping West Bromwich Albion tomorrow against popular old Blues defender Thomas Gaardsoe, writes Derek Davis.

CHRIS Bart-Williams and Alan Mahon will make their debuts for third-from-bottom Ipswich against table-topping West Bromwich Albion tomorrow against popular old Blues defender Thomas Gaardsoe, writes Derek Davis.

Bart-Williams has been brought in to strengthen the midfield now that Royle has said he wants Georges Santos to play a more defensive role in the back line.

After initially signing a loan deal, Santos signed a two-year deal once Gaardsoe had been sold to West Bromwich Albion for £520,000.

Royle admits he has apologised to the Frenchman for making him play in midfield and now wants him at the back.


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He said: "I feel a bit sorry for big Georges. I have apologised to him somewhat because he came here as a centre-half but because of injuries I played him in midfield in pre-season. But he will always be regarded here as a centre-half who can play in midfield if required.

"I saw a suggestion that if he had still been here on loan I would have regretted it but not at all, I'm delighted with Georges and he remains vital to us."

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Gaardsoe has been made man of the match in the last three Baggies' games, and helped them to four clean sheets in his five matches as Gary Megson's men roared to the top of the table.

But Royle dismisses the possibility that Gaardsoe could have a big influence on Saturday's game.

He said: "I don't see him as an influence at all. Thomas has done very well there in the centre of three backs. He is a fine centre-half.

"He was very popular here and I will be the first to shake his hand after the game.

"As always it is down to us. If we are at our best it doesn't matter who we are up against."

Royle concedes the Baggies will be difficult opponents. He said: "They are top of the league after a powerful start and they are a powerful side. We will see. We will find form hopefully sooner, rather than later.

"There were signs against West Ham and I talked then of the shoots of recovery and I think the two new players will help everyone."

The Blues boss, who took over from George Burley last October, is not concerned that Ipswich are in the same lowly position as when he was made manager.

"There is by no means the same gap as last October between where we were then and the top sides," added Royle.

"We have seen Burnley start with three defeats and then with three wins go within a couple points off second place. The league at this stage of the season is, hopefully, misguided.

"We don't like to see where we are but I don't look at it too much because I look at the players we have and we will improve.

"We have to start putting our chances away and, as well as we have defended, we need some clean sheets."

Jermaine Wright is a doubt after picking up a back injury in training yesterday but a decision on him won't be made until tomorrow.

With Chris Makin and Tommy Miller definitely ruled out, loan signings Bart-Williams and Mahon will make their Ipswich Town debuts.

Royle said: "Their arrival has given everyone a lift. The place is buzzing. It is just what we needed.

"They are two very capable players. The first thing they had to do was impress me for me to bring them in and the next thing is to impress the players, which they have already done."

Martijn Reuser is back in training after a groin strain and will feature in a reserve game within the next fortnight.

John McGreal sees a specialist next week to ascertain the state of his hamstring problem but is feeling better and is more mobile.

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