Midfield dilemma for Royle

WITH such a thin squad to choose from, it is not often that Blues boss Joe Royle has a selection dilemma, but who to leave out of Sunday's game at Millwall has caused some head scratching, writes Derek Davis.

WITH such a thin squad to choose from, it is not often that Blues boss Joe Royle has a selection dilemma, but who to leave out of Sunday's game at Millwall has caused some head scratching, writes Derek Davis.

Town went top of the league with their 2-1 home win over Wigan on Tuesday without the suspended Kevin Horlock, who has been a rock in the defensive holding role for Ipswich this season.

But the energy, enterprise and exuberance of Ian Westlake and Tommy Miller in midfield, with skipper Jim Magilton later sitting back more, did a more than adequate job.

Miller provided the pass which led to Darren Bent winning the game, while he and Westlake were pivotal in quenching the threat from Jimmy Bullard and Alan Mahon.


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Horlock returns from his one-match ban ready to resume his place but Royle admits it is not an easy decision and if he brings the former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder in – who does he leave out?

He said: "We get Kevin Horlock back which gives the manager one of those nice problems we're supposed to like.

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"We'll see where it goes because Kevin's been outstanding this season."

Dropping Darren Currie would be harsh, and perhaps a little foolhardy considering the influence he has had on the past two games. Going on as a second half substitute at QPR, Currie changed the game with a superb goal and played a part in another in the stunning 3-2 comeback victory.

Against Wigan he was a contender for man-of-the-match with his clever play, neat flicks, precise passing and spot-on set pieces.

Then again how can you leave the skipper out after his influence all season? The two away games Magilton missed at the beginning of the season finished in a defeat and a draw.

It may be tempting not to change a winning side but away from home the defensively-minded Horlock will be vital in that holding role.

It is difficult to second-guess the manager, especially as a decision won't be taken until after training today with the players also in for a short session tomorrow, Christmas Day, but the feeling in the camp is that Westlake could be the one who loses out if Horlock is recalled.

The back four are likely to stay unchanged after an awesome display against the Latics.

Fabian Wilnis was as accomplished as ever in his familiar right-back role while Matt Richards was defiantly dogged at left back.

Richards, who celebrates his 20th birthday at the Den on Sunday, showed his confidence is far from dented despite the manager's obvious reluctance to have him at left back. First, Royle played Wilnis out of position instead of pushing him across to the right rather than selecting Richards, then he brought in an unproven youngster from Arsenal on loan despite never having seen him play.

Richards has been here before and showed last season that he can overcome setbacks and had a storming second half to the season.

With 21 goals between them the strike duo of Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent will carry on, leaving Dean Bowditch and Pablo Counago patient but frustrated, on the bench.

n Ipswich are selling advance tickets for their two holiday home games, against Stoke City on Tuesday December 28, kick-off 12.15pm and West Ham on New Year's Day. The ticket office will be open for collection on Monday, December 27, from 10am to 4pm.

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