Pablo's goal vow

PABLO Counago has fired a defiant warning to Ipswich Town's Division One rivals, as he vows to find the goal-scoring touch which made him the club's leading hit-man last season, writes Derek Davis.

PABLO Counago has fired a defiant warning to Ipswich Town's Division One rivals, as he vows to find the goal-scoring touch which made him the club's leading hit-man last season, writes Derek Davis.

Counago was presented with the Boxholders' Player of the Season award at the annual lunch at Portman Road yesterday in front of 120 guests.

The Spaniard, who hit 19 goals in all competitions, has yet to find the net this term but believes it is only a matter of time before the club hits promotion form once again.

He said: "I would love to get as many goals as I did last season but for me the most important thing is the team starts doing well.

"I want to play my part but I don't mind who scores the goals as long as we start winning, which I'm sure we will start doing soon.

"I really think we have the players, the coaches and the supporters, who have stuck with us, to be able to turn it around.

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"We will be in the top six within a couple of months and once we are there we will stay there until the end of the season."

The former Celtic Vigo and Spanish Under-21 striker will be looking to get off the mark next week when he comes up against old team-mate Thomas Gaardsoe, who is now at the heart of the West Bromwich Albion defence.

The Dane is determined to help his new club beat their record of 26 clean sheets, which they kept in the promotion campaign two seasons ago.

He added: "I want to do my best to break the record otherwise I would not be here. It is a good challenge for all of us and I'm sure if we keep defending like we are we will be top of the league all season."

Blues boss Joe Royle made no apologies for being optimistic about Town's chances of turning things around and added: "We may have left it a bit late to finish in the top two, but that doesn't mean we have given up and believe me I know that we can turn things around and we can soon be up there challenging.

"You can shoot me for being optimistic but this club has so much going for it we can achieve an awful lot."

Chief executive Derek Bowden also marked the new era by making the key-note speech at the lunch, which is usually done by chairman David Sheepshanks, who is stepping back from the day-to-day running and cutting his work-load down to two days a week.

Bowden has taken over the major running of the business at the club and heralded the new dawn by addressing the boxholders. He said: "We want to draw a line under the past, certainly I never want to hear the word administration again as long as I live. But we are looking forward and we are going forward and that is what we are all focusing on now."

Powergen's Helen Kerr told the audience: "It has been a difficult year for Ipswich Town and it has not been easy for TXU Energi, who we have now taken a major shareholding in, in their retail business.

"But we are delighted to be the main sponsor and support the club's community scheme and Learning for Success programme."

Skipper Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Georges Santos, Drissa Diallo, Fabian Wilnis and Chris Makin were also present at the lunch in the Galleria, which was originally due to be held last May.

n Town defender Erdem Artun has completed his move to Third Division Darlington after a successful trial period.

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