Marshall taken out of the firing line

THE goalkeepers' union was very much in evidence just minutes after Andy Marshall was dropped for today's game with Grimsby Town with James Pullen set to make his league debut, writes Derek Davis.

THE goalkeepers' union was very much in evidence just minutes after Andy Marshall was dropped for today's game with Grimsby Town with James Pullen set to make his league debut, writes Derek Davis.

Instead of sulking, or marching off in a huff, Marshall promptly went back on to the training pitch to help his replacement with some extra training.

Blues boss Joe Royle praised the keeper for his attitude after telling him he was not starting.

“Andy has taken the news as well as can be expected. It was nice that he stayed behind to do an extra session with James.

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“It is not a matter of making him a scapegoat for our loss to Wolves. He was at fault for the first goal but we went back into the lead after that.

“I just feel it is time to look at James and to give Andy a rest which will benefit him. There are certain sections of the crowd who are waiting for a mistake from him so it is probably best to take him out of the firing line for a while.”

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Should Pullen play well he will keep his place for the derby game against Norwich City next week and Royle admits this was a consideration when leaving Marshall out today.

“James has ability and did well when we threw him in against Middlesbrough. He doesn't have a problem with his temperament and is looking forward to it.”

Former Heybridge Swifts keeper Pullen has impressed in recent reserve-team games, keeping a clean sheet against Arsenal 10 days ago.

The Chelmsford-born keeper, who will be 21 next month, has made one senior appearance for Town when he played well in the Blues' 3-1 Worthington Cup victory over Middlesbrough at Portman Road.

The Blues are likely to stick with their attack-minded 4-3-3 system which best accommodates the Darren Bent and Ambrose duo but may be tempted to go back to the wing-back system with three at the back.

John McGreal will take a fitness test this morning on a stiff back while Darren Ambrose has shaken off the knock he picked up against Wolves.

Chris Makin has struggled of late with a bad back but should take his place today, although impressive young defender Matt Richards is on standby, especially with Hermann Hreidarsson still suspended.

Alan Armstrong is added to the squad along with Richard Naylor as cover for Pablo Counago who starts his four-match ban today.

Grimsby boss Paul Groves strengthened his squad just in time for today's game by completing loan deals for Paul Oster and Richard Hughes.

Winger Oster is a fans favourite and will be back for his third spell at Blundell Park, his second on loan from Sunderland this season.

Glaswegian Hughes, whose father is a sports agent, started his career with Italian side Atalanta before securing a move to Arsenal but did not figure in their first team.

The former Scottish Under-21 international, who is now 23, spent four years at Bournemouth following Matt Holland's departure to Ipswich but Harry Redknapp lured him to Fratton Park during the summer.

Injuries have curtailed the six-foot midfielder's appearances for Pompey to seven in total but he could make his Grimsby debut today.

Steve Chettle is being tipped to replace Simon Ford in a defensive reshuffle.

Danny Mansaram has failed to recover from an ankle injury but Alan Pouton is hoping to be fit, while Steve Livingstone is suspended.

Royle warned: “Grimsby are fighting for their lives, It is a different situation to Wednesday when Wolves and ourselves were fighting to get in the play-offs.”


Ipswich Town: Pullen, Wilnis, Makin, McGreal, Gaardsoe, Miller, Magilton, Holland, Ambrose, D Bent, M Bent, Reuser, Marshall, Richards, Wright, Armstrong, Naylor.

Grimsby Town: Coyne, McDermott, Gallimore, Santos, Chettle, Oster, Coldicott, Hughes, Groves, Campbell, Thompson, Boulding, Allaway, Barnard, Ford, Cooke, Soames, Pouton.

Referee: Andy Penn (Kingswinford)

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