Naylor likes Town's mix

RICHARD Naylor believes the fearless approach from Town's young guns mixed with the wise old heads will hold Ipswich in good stead for the promotion battle ahead, writes Derek Davis.

RICHARD Naylor believes the fearless approach from Town's young guns mixed with the wise old heads will hold Ipswich in good stead for the promotion battle ahead, writes Derek Davis.

The race to get into the play-offs, and then win the post-season mini-cup competition is hotting up, starting with a trip to relegation- threatened Gillingham today.

Naylor is remembered by every Town fan as being among the goal heroes at Wembley when Blues won promotion via the play-offs in 2000, but he also remembers the three previous failures, so knows what to expect this time.

That experience, along with the likes of Fabian Wilnis, Jim Magilton, Jermaine Wright and John McGreal, will be crucial in the coming few weeks.

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Naylor said: “Their experience will help in the respect that when things are getting a bit nervous, older heads are a bit cooler under pressure, and that helps.

“The young ones are fearless. It is all new to them and they just enjoy being a part of it. The likes of (Darren) Bent and (Dean) Bowditch will go out and play with no fear because that is how they play anyway and hopefully they will go on to make a name for themselves.”

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The 27-year-old is well placed to be able to judge if this current side stands up to the one that won promotion under George Burley.

But he said: “It is difficult to compare. We have a few similar players but many new faces.

“In the past we were a decent footballing side, which we are still are, but now we have a bit more steel in the side if a little less finesse.

“The last time we got promoted we were able to buy Marcus Stewart to give us that push at the end. It is a different situation now as we had no money to bring players and we are doing it with loan signings or free signings. We are still in with a great chance and have the quality to be able to do it.”

But he also believes that while that the belief and spirit is just as strong, only this time Town are a bit more impatient.

Naylor added: “It is a similar feeling. We have a positive attitude that we can do it. Last time we had three attempts at it but now we are well capable of doing it first time round.”

The Yorkshire-born utility man, who is the oldest youth product to still be at Town, has just come back from yet another fracture, this time a broken little toe, and is looking to force his way back into a winning side.

He said: “There is a lot of competition, but the lads with the shirts have done really well in the past few games, so it is a case of the rest of us biding our time. If we get on then we have to do well. You have to do well in training and in reserve games.

“We are all in it together, the whole squad. There are players out at the moment who have contributed a lot throughout the season and I'm sure have more to give.”

Naylor impressed in the 1-0 reserve-team win on Wednesday after spending the first half doing a terrific job at the back. He is used to using the reserve team as a springboard back to the first team and feels it is important to use the opportunity.

He said: “You want to play well. It is hard to get as motivated for a reserve game in front of a few hundred instead of a first-team game in front of 20,000.

“You may not want to aggravate an injury and you have to take care of yourself a bit more, but equally you have to impress and show the manager you are ready to play.”

If called upon at Priestfield today, Naylor is more than ready.

He scored against them on his debut back in 1996 and was part of the side that beat them in Kent last season, when he and Chris Makin made up the central defensive pairing.

He said: “It is a difficult place to go and we will treat them with respect, but we know we can go there and get a result, so we will not be going there with any fear.”

And victory could allow Naylor the chance to play in his fifth set of play-offs, but the wise old head was taking nothing for granted and opined.

He said: “If we can win the next couple, against Gillingham and then at home to Forest, we can take stock again and worry about the next two after that.”

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