Matt's Championship ambition
MATT Richards is convinced the Blues are capable of winning all 22 of their remaining league games to finish as champions, writes Derek Davis.The Town defender, who celebrates his 20th birthday at Millwall on Boxing Day, is also determined to hold on to his starting berth now he has reclaimed the left-back spot.
MATT Richards is convinced the Blues are capable of winning all 22 of their remaining league games to finish as champions, writes Derek Davis.
The Town defender, who celebrates his 20th birthday at Millwall on Boxing Day, is also determined to hold on to his starting berth now he has reclaimed the left-back spot.
Town go to Millwall as league leaders but a draw at the Den could see them slip back behind Wigan if they were to beat George Burley's Derby County. And that, says Richards, is not acceptable.
"We will not be satisfied with any draws over the Christmas period," he said. "Millwall always fight for every point especially at home, so we know it will be difficult."
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Richards appreciates that being top of the tree means being shot at even more. He said: "We are the side everyone wants to beat now, especially after what we did to Wigan the other night.
"But that doesn't worry us. We have played every team now and there is no one in this league that bothers us. Wigan and Sunderland were the best two teams we played and it was a shame that at Sunderland we just didn't play. We are looking forward to getting them back to our place where it will be a very different story.
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"The other two teams who have beaten us, Stoke and Derby, were not really that much better than us and we can reverse those results at our place, starting with Stoke on Tuesday."
The former Academy star who made his Town debut at the tender age of 16 as the Blues' youngest-ever UEFA Cup player at Avenir Beggin in Luxembourg, is realistic enough to know winning the next 22 games on the bounce is a big task.
He said: "We are bound to draw a couple and getting one point would be better than losing, but we are capable of winning every game."
The last time Ipswich and Millwall met at the Den was one year and two weeks ago and it was the Blues' last 0-0 result.
Richards said: "It says a lot about how we have changed since then. We can score in every game, and slowly but surely we have got better defensively especially with the Jason De Vos and Richard Naylor partnership. They were awesome against Wigan and have been brilliant for a while now."
Richards was also outstanding on Tuesday and played his part in a magnificent back line which should be unchanged on Sunday despite the arrival of Danny Karbassiyoon on loan from Arsenal.
That signing, and the chance to play after Drissa Diallo's injury, gave Richards an extra incentive on Tuesday. He said: "I have been patiently waiting for my chance and that was my time to impress.
"I was surprised that the manager brought in a left-back as Fabian can also play there and I thought that with Drissa injured he would bring in a right -back.
"It just made me even more determined to do well and keep my place. The new arrival will keep me on my toes and competition for places is healthy. We have a small squad and that is a worry so we definitely need more players in all positions. We only have 15 senior players really but we have not done badly with just a few of us. We are top of the league and we intend staying there."
Although Richards will be a birthday boy on Sunday there will be no time to celebrate too madly.
Richards will go to his parents' house straight after the Millwall match and have a quiet night in with his family and girlfriend in readiness to wreak revenge against Stoke two days later.
The Potters are the team against which Richards scored the first of his two Town goals, in the 1-0 win at Portman Road, last season.