Makin ready to return for Town

CHRIS Makin looks set to make a surprise return to bolster the Ipswich Town defence in tonight's play-off "six-pointer" against Reading at Portman Road (kick-off 7.

CHRIS Makin looks set to make a surprise return to bolster the Ipswich Town defence in tonight's play-off "six-pointer" against Reading at Portman Road (kick-off 7.45), writes Tony Garnett.

Full-back Makin limped off after 54 minutes of the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace last Tuesday. Making an early withdrawal ensured that no further damage was done.

Yesterday Town boss Joe Royle said: "I am hopeful. Chris came through training with no ill effects but, seeing as it's a hamstring injury, he will have a fitness test tomorrow to make sure there has been no reaction."

Although Marcus Bent came off with a tight hamstring at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, he has thrown off the effects and will start tonight.

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Darren Bent, his teenage strike partner, has become a slight doubt. He missed training yesterday with what Royle describes as a "tired hamstring". He faces a precautionary fitness test.

Royle knows that the younger Bent has been below his best in recent matches but admitted: "I cannot afford to rest him at the moment."

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Teenager Matt Bloomfield drops out of the squad because he has been released for England Under-19 international duty.

Tommy Miller and Darren Ambrose might come into contention for a place against Brighton on Saturday but John McGreal, Mark Venus and Hermann Hreidarsson are a long way from being ready.

Royle has great respect for Reading and their highly-rated manager Alan Pardew.

"Reading have done outstandingly well. I saw them in their home match against Wolves when they should have been four up in 20 minutes but lost 1-0.

"They have a fantastic work ethic and a great team spirit. They are exceptional at free-kicks and corners. They have achieved their success without silly spending and all credit to Alan Pardew.

"We have got to keep winning now. We must be totally single-minded and focused on our own results," said Royle.

Reading, who have collected 31 of their 64 points on their travels, have failed in an audacious bid to take Paolo Di Canio on loan from West Ham.

Di Canio is back in England after having specialist treatment to his knee in Bologna.

The Royals are third in the table knowing that completing a double over Ipswich tonight would keep alive their slender hopes of claiming one of the automatic promotion spots.

Pardew said: "All of our games are massive now, but perhaps this one is even more important because of Ipswich's position. I think we need only three more wins to secure a play-off place."

Skybet make Ipswich 11-10 favourites while Ladbrokes offer Reading at 11-5, the same price as they quote for a draw.

Tonight's squads

Ipswich Town: Marshall; Wilnis, Naylor, Gaardsoe, Makin, Richards, Wright, Magilton, Holland, Reuser, D Bent, M Bent, Counago, Westlake, Bowditch, Abidallah and Pullen (gk).

Reading: Hahnemann; Murty, Brown, Shorey, Chadwick, Hughes, Harper, Sidwell, Tyson, Forster, Williams, Watson, Salako, Viveash, Ashdown (gk) and Henderson.

Referee: Mr Clive Wilkes (Gloucester).

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