New worries for Joe

HAVING started the week with three points and players on the road to recovery, manager Joe Royle is now faced with a new defensive worry.Georges Santos was on crutches yesterday after twisting his ankle, so will play no part in today's reserve-team match against Coventry City at Playford Road (1pm kick-off).

HAVING started the week with three points and players on the road to recovery, manager Joe Royle is now faced with a new defensive worry.

Georges Santos was on crutches yesterday after twisting his ankle, so will play no part in today's reserve-team match against Coventry City at Playford Road (1pm kick-off).

With John McGreal yet to train this week due to a back problem, Royle is heading towards Saturday's fourth-round FA Cup tie with Sunderland with just two fit centre-halves – Drissa Diallo and Richard Naylor.

Diallo himself is short of fitness, having made his first senior appearance after a lengthy injury lay-off in the 6-4 win over Crewe on Saturday.


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Midfielders Chris Bart-Williams (back) and Jim Magilton (dead leg) also missed training yesterday, but are not seen as major doubts for the Sunderland match, a game which Royle knows gives Town a great chance of reaching the fifth round.

"It's a very winnable game, as any games against teams from our own division are," he said.

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"I keep saying it, optimist that I am, that we haven't seen anybody better than us in Division One when we play at our best.

"We can score against anybody, the problem we have is stopping goals against everybody. It was a daft game on Saturday defensively."

Royle knows that the tendency to leak goals will only be stopped once a regular defensive unit has been established, and injuries are currently preventing that.

"Georges Santos has twisted his ankle quite badly so he won't play any part in the reserve match or this weekend, and having started the week with four fit centre-backs I'm down to just two," added Royle.

"Fabian (Wilnis) is back in the frame though, which is a big help bearing in mind Chris Makin's long-term problems. Drissa needs games more than anything so he's in the reserves."

The promised new loan signing is still yet to appear, and the Ipswich boss admits he is in no rush with a weekend away from league action coming up.

"We're in no hurry before the cup match. It's not out of the question that someone could come in before the weekend but I'm still waiting to hear back so nothing will happen as yet."

Town's free-scoring antics on Saturday may not have been a great advert for defending, but it does seem to have done the trick as far as ticket sales go for the cup clash with Sunderland.

Having only attracted 16,000 fans to the third-round tie with Derby, the club are expecting at least 22,000 to watch this weekend's game.

Ipswich Reserves to face Coventry: Marshall, Mitchell, Barron, Murray, Diallo, Collins, Flack, Kamara, Morrow, Bowditch, Boardley, Smith, Peat, Craig, Manning and Atay.

steve.mellen@eadt.co.uk

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