Magilton's difficult choice

Club captain Jim Magilton is facing a difficult choice.Should he stay at Portman Road for one more promotion push, or leave for a coaching role elsewhere?Ambitious Magilton, now 36, is looking beyond his playing career and wants to further his coaching development.

Club captain Jim Magilton is facing a difficult choice.

Should he stay at Portman Road for one more promotion push, or leave for a coaching role elsewhere?

Ambitious Magilton, now 36, is looking beyond his playing career and wants to further his coaching development.

And that chance could be as a Pirate, as Ian Atkins at Division Two side Bristol Rovers is seeking a player/coach.


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Will Jim Magilton go west?

Former Ipswich star Atkins, who took over as manager of Bristol Rovers in the summer of 2004, is seeking an inspirational player-coach who will also forge strong links with the youth set-up.

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And Magilton could fit the bill, although Atkins does have several possible targets.

He said: "I am aware of Jim Magilton and he is one of a number of players whose name has popped up in speculation about this position.

"He is the type of player we would be looking for, in that he is experienced, enthusiastic and would be willing and looking to get his foot on the coaching ladder."

Rovers have already parted company with assistant manager Kevan Broadhurst.

The Rovers players returned for pre-season training and were surprised to find Broadhurst was not present and his post had been made redundant. And having lost a couple of players, Atkins is still looking to bring in an experienced defender or a midfielder and a goalkeeper.

Like most lower league managers, though, he has limited finances to deploy.

Magilton, who has been back doing fitness work at the Ipswich training centre for several days, joined up with the rest of the squad for pre-season on Friday.

He is a former Oxford United player and Liverpool trainee.

The former Northern Ireland international has made no secret of the fact he and his family want to move closer to their roots in the North West. He also wants to develop a coaching role for the future.

Town manager Joe Royle gave him extra time to consider his options, including the offer of a new contract to remain at Portman Road for 2005/6.

If he decides to leave, Canadian international defender Jason De Vos feels it would be a blow for Town.

He said: "Jim is a massive influence at the club, on and off the field.

"He's such a lively character that he really does boost the morale in the camp when he's around."

n Ipswich Town's pre-season programme is now settled with the first home friendly, against Scottish champions Rangers, just two weeks away.

Rangers' own Scottish Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, July 31 when they face Livingston and, before coming to Portman Road on July 19, they are visiting Canada where they will face local opposition and visiting Dinamo Zagreb.

The Portman Road match is sure to attract a big crowd, even for a pre-season friendly, with the initial allocation of 4,000 tickets having been snapped up by Rangers fans so quickly that Ipswich have sent them another 3,000.

Town's pre-season build-up continues with a couple of days training at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook.

The first team friendly programme is: Cambridge United (a) July 13, Boston United (a) July 16, Rangers (h) July 19, Ujpest (a) July 22, DVTK (a) July 24, Atletico Madrid (h) July 29, Colchester United (a) August 2.

n Ipswich Town's under 18s kick off their 2005/2006 campaign against Barnsley on Saturday, August 20 at the training centre at Playford Road, Rushmere. Saturday kick-off times will normally be 11 am.

And Town face one of their longest journeys of the season the following Saturday when they visit Liverpool.

Most of their other Academy opponents are in the south or the Midlands.

Their home local derby against Norwich City is on Saturday, November 12, with the return match in Norfolk on February 11.

The FA Youth Cup holders won't enter into that competition until the third round in December.

david.vincent@eadt.co.uk

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