Magilton is upbeat
INSPIRATIONAL skipper Jim Magilton has warned the sceptics that Ipswich Town are ready to carry on proving people wrong.Not many people tipped the Blues for automatic promotion last summer and the midfielder admits even he thought making the top six would be pushing it.
By Derek Davis
INSPIRATIONAL skipper Jim Magilton has warned the sceptics that Ipswich Town are ready to carry on proving people wrong.
Not many people tipped the Blues for automatic promotion last summer and the midfielder admits even he thought making the top six would be pushing it.
He also reminded me that eighth place was the best I thought Town would do.
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Derby's defeat against Leicester on Tuesday meant Town can do no worse than finish third, but with two games to go, the Blues are still in with an excellent chance of an automatic top-two finale.
Bullish Magilton is confident he and his team-mates can carry on exceeding expectations.
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He said: “People have been writing us off or under-estimating us all season. Your prediction for us finishing eighth, even my own prediction that top six would be a fantastic season. Now we have got there, and having been there for so long, I see no reason why we can't carry on and go all the way.
“Looking at the squad in the summer we were a bit bare, even though the Gaffer had made great signings in Jason De Vos and Kevin Horlock.
“They were experienced players who blended in very well with the whole squad. Even so, anyone looking at us would have thought top six would be a fabulous season for us. But now we have been top three for so long and top for a good period, it would be tragic not to finish it off.”
The first obstacle for Town is Crewe Alexandra, who are locked in a battle with Brighton to avoid slipping down to League One.
It is a spookily familiar scenario. In 1999 Crewe needed to beat Town to stay up, while Town needed to win at Portman Road to go into second.
Mark Rivers opened the scoring for Crewe; Mark Venus equalised from the penalty spot before Dave MacCauley nodded in the winner for Dario Gradi's side, four minutes from time.
Magilton played in that side and remembers it vividly, and he is determined to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
He said: “We had beaten Stockport on the Tuesday night and that had put us in a wonderful position and I can remember Crewe scored with a late goal.
“Tony Mowbray won't thank me for this, but their lad lost him at a corner and it went in off a post.
“We had our player of the year awards that night and it was a pretty subdued atmosphere.
“So we know how dangerous Crewe are, and everyone is looking at Wigan's fixtures, but our two are difficult games and there is no way we will be underestimating them.
“We know what we have to do and we have to go and do it.”
The former Northern Ireland captain has relished being Blues skipper and has been outstanding in the role, on and off the pitch.
Along with the chairman David Sheepshanks, manager Joe Royle and defender Fabian Wilnis, he took part in a cooking event to promote the Prince's Trust at Portman Road.
Magilton admitted he needed something to take his mind off the Crewe clash and the whole promotion race.
He said: “Monday to Thursday is always a calming down period for me after a Saturday game and then it is the business end of the week.
“The Prince's Trust is a great organisation, it is a terrific cause and it is a fun night for us.
“Although I'm not the best cook in the world I enjoyed myself.
“It is important to wind down and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't playing on my mind. I'm constantly looking at the league table and in a way it is a good pressure to have.
“It's comforting to know that we have had a good season, whatever happens on Saturday or next week at Brighton.
“We have something to play for and it has been a great team effort by everyone whatever happens.”
Ipswich could be without David Unsworth, who has missed training with ankle injury, which has put Matt Richards and Drissa Diallo on stand-by to start against Crewe.
PFA award winner Kelvin Davis is likely to return in goal after the birth of his second child meant he missed the Leeds game, although Lewis Price was not included in last night's reserve-team squad, which didn't have a fifth substitute and no back-up keeper.