McEveley ready for deby

JAY McEveley is ready to make his Ipswich Town debut tomorrow at Sheffield United but admitted he feared he was going to miss out due to a fussy referee.

By Derek Davis

JAY McEveley is ready to make his Ipswich Town debut tomorrow at Sheffield United but admitted he feared he was going to miss out due to a fussy referee.

The tough-tackling defender was booked for a foul on Lupoli Arturo during Town's 4-2 defeat by Arsenal Reserves and it looked for a moment that the referee was going to book him again late in the game after another challenge.

Fortunately he was just spoken to but McEveley admitted it was a nervous moment for him.

McEveley told the EADT: “I couldn't believe I got booked the first time and then he was at me again. The last thing I needed was getting sent off in the reserves and missing a senior game, especially the chance of making my debut.”

The on-loan Blackburn Rovers defender has been named in a 17-man squad that travels to south Yorkshire this afternoon and he has been handed the No. 5 shirt.

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After two good work-outs in the Blues' reserves, 19-year-old McEvely feels he now has the match fitness needed for him to step into the first team.

McEveley said: “The manager will decide but he was at the reserves and spoke to me afterwards and thought I looked stronger as the game went on.

“I feel so much better after these couple of games and feel ready to play if asked.”

After experiencing Championship football with loan spells at Gillingham and Burnley, McEveley knows what to expect at leaders Sheffield United but has a special incentive to do well, with former team-mate Craig Short now at Bramall Lane.

McEveley said: “Sheffield United will be a tough debut for me, especially as they have Craig Short now who I know from Blackburn. It would be great to get one over on him.”

Although he has made 20 appearances for the Premiership outfit and figures in Mark Hughes' future plans, McEveley is keen to build on his experience.

Town secured the stocky six-footer on a season-long loan but Blackburn have an option to take him back in the January window if they want.

McEveley has settled in quickly and has been impressed with what he has found at Portman Road.

He said: “My aim is to get as much first-team football as I can. I'm looking for at least 30 games this season and keep progressing.

“Rovers have an option to take me back and we will see. If I'm playing well and they are not doing so well they may want me but if they are playing well and I'm doing well here then they may let me stay.

“Everything I have seen so far is Premiership. The ground, the training facilities, everything is top class. This place is ready for the Premiership - we just have to see about getting the club back there.”

A left-sided player, McEvely showed with the sending off of Aidan Collins on Monday, that he can comfortably play as a full-back or central defender.

With Jason de Vos fit after recovering from broken ribs, Richard Naylor, who made his Blues debut at Sheffield nine years ago, available after a one-match ban, Fabian Wilnis showing how well he can slot into anywhere along the back line, and Sito Castro looking highly impressive, Joe Royle has an embarrassment of riches at the back.

One way of accommodating them all is to play five at the back but that is unlikely, even with Ian Westlake ruled out of midfield with ankle ligament damage.

Sam Parkin will continue to be without his strike partner Nicky Forster, who was 32 yesterday, but the former Reading man is recovering well after knee surgery and is expected to be back playing within three weeks.

Unless he ploughs a lone furrow once more Dean McDonald and Dean Bowditch will be eager to go up front with Parkin. Bowditch showed he is finding goals in the reserves after his double on Monday made it five in three matches.

Ipswich Town squad: Price, Supple, Sito, Wilnis, McEvely, Naylor, de Vos, Richards, Horlock, Juan, Magilton, Garvan, Currie, Peters, Parkin, McDonald and Bowditch.

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