Pablo hails Town fans

PABLO Counago hopes he has done enough to convince Blues' boss Joe Royle to keep him in the starting line-up for Ipswich Town's final push for automatic promotion, writes Derek Davis.

PABLO Counago hopes he has done enough to convince Blues' boss Joe Royle to keep him in the starting line-up for Ipswich Town's final push for automatic promotion, writes Derek Davis.

The Spaniard played well and helped set up Shefki Kuqi's 11th-minute goal at Leeds, although Counago admitted he was flagging by the time he was replaced by Darren Currie.

Playing in the centre of an attack-minded three up front Counago impressed with his hold-up play and passing.

He said: "The three worked really well, especially in the first half. We scored and we had other chances. I did tire a little bit because I have not played in the first team for so long but this will have done me good.

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"If I play on Saturday I will be even better for having played in this match.

"I'm pleased because I played my part in Shefki's goal and in general."

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Town get the chance to go level on points with Wigan on Saturday when they meet Crewe, with Wigan playing at Preston a couple of hours earlier.

Counago feels they deserve to already be on a par with their rivals after being on top for long periods at Elland Road.

He said: "We had a good chance to score in the final minutes, but the important thing is we are still just two points behind Wigan.

"We did more to win the game but at least Wigan dropped two points.

"Going to Preston will be difficult for them and if we win our two games we will finish in the top two."

Former Celta Vigo striker Counago was given a tremendous reception by the 3,500 travelling Blues' fans in his first start since October and he praised their backing.

"They are a fantastic crowd who gave the team wonderful support and have been there for me all the time.

"I can hardly find the words for me to describe them, they are unbelievable."

Goal hero Kuqi was delighted for Counago and grateful for the part he played in setting up his first away goal since early February – even if it wasn't a textbook finish.

Kuqi said: "It didn't go exactly where I wanted it to go but it went into the back of the net.

"Pablo did really well; he held the ball up well. He is a very clever player and he brings players in."

The Finland international, who has now banged in 17 goals this season, admits his recent drought was playing on his mind a little but was still confident he would get on the goal trail again.

He said: "As long as I was still getting chances I was happy and knew I would score. Obviously when you go a few games without scoring as a striker it gets to you but it came good at Leeds."

Kuqi and Darren Bent have now notched 36 goals between them this season and the former Sheffield Wednesday striker is more than happy for his partner to beat him in the individual stakes.

He said: "It is not a race between us for who scores the most. We both want to score, but I would have been more than happy if it had been Darren who had scored and we won."

With two regular season games left for the duo to try and hit 40 between them, Kuqi is determined they will get over the result at Leeds and win promotion.

He said: "We have everything to play for now but we are disappointed we didn't get all three points."

Bent, along with Richard Naylor, scored the goals at Crewe in the 2-2 draw, but Alex have not won a game since Dean Ashton was sold to Norwich in January.

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