Pablo - let me do it for the fans

PABLO Counago is ready to answer an Ipswich Town SOS and help fire them back into the Premiership, writes Derek Davis.After an absence of six months the Spanish striker has been an unused substitute in 18 of Town's last 29 games and heavily criticised by manager Joe Royle.

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PABLO Counago is ready to answer an Ipswich Town SOS and help fire them back into the Premiership, writes Derek Davis.

After an absence of six months the Spanish striker has been an unused substitute in 18 of Town's last 29 games and heavily criticised by manager Joe Royle.

Now, following the impact he made when he went on as a substitute against Sunderland last Sunday, allied to his recent good form in the reserves, where he has scored three goals in five games, and his omission from the second-string game against Chelsea on Wednesday, the indications are that Royle will bite the bullet and start Counago at Leeds United on Saturday.


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Although the former Celta Vigo striker is taking nothing for granted he would love to be able to play a major role in the last three games of the regular season and repay the supporters who have stood by him.

Speaking exclusively to the EADT, Counago said: "I would love to start and try and help Ipswich win these next three games.

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"I don't know if I'm starting on Saturday and I'm trying not to think too much about it because you just ever know what will happen.

"The manager has not said anything yet and we try different team line-ups in training so you can't tell.

"I want to play and if I do start then it would be a nice surprise. I will do my best, enjoy playing the game and will work hard for the team and the supporters."

Counago has not started a game for six months since he was taken off at Watford in October after he had helped Ipswich to a 2-0 lead. Following his withdrawal the Blues conceded twice and drew 2-2.

In a recent EADT interview, after scoring his third goal in five games for the reserves, Counago said he was still willing, and hoping, that he could play a part in the promotion run-in.

Last night he said: "It has been a difficult time for me but the fans have always been on my side and they have been brilliant to me whenever I have come on as a substitute.

"It is a strange situation for me to be in now but I really want to do well for those people who helped me through all this. If I can help Ipswich get promotion then that would make me feel really good."

Although his wages are often exaggerated in some quarters, the £12,000 a week basic he picks up is still a substantial amount of Joe Royle's playing budget. It represents almost 10 per cent of the £5m a year the manager has been asked to get it down to.

Counago knows he has no future at Portman Road and will seek a Spanish club in the summer, but before then he is determined to do all he can to help Ipswich reach the Premiership.

He said: "I will worry about that when it comes, at the moment the most important things are these last three games and doing the best for the team."

If Counago does play Ipswich could opt for a three-man attack, with him playing in the middle and Shefki Kuqi and Darren Bent on either side.

Kuqi is due a goal after failing to find the net in six games and not scoring away from home since helping the Blues to a 2-0 win at Sheffield United on February 5.

n More than 17,500 season ticket applications were made in time for last Friday's discount deadline. The club will allow a maximum of 24,000 season ticket sales, which would provide for the away fan allocation and those wanting to see one-off matches. Any over-subscribed games will go to a ballot system.

n All four stands will be open for Friday night's FA Youth Cup final between Ipswich Town and Southampton, which stands at 2-2 after the first leg. Tickets are £8 for adults and £1 for children with fans advised to get their early to avoid queues for the 7.45pm kick-off.

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