Price aims to be Town's No. 1

LEWIS Price is determined to make the Ipswich Town No. 1 spot his own this season, writes Derek Davis.In what promises to be an intriguing contest, the Wales Under-21 keeper will battle it out with Irish youth international Shane Supple, to start the campaign on August 6, between the Blues' posts.

LEWIS Price is determined to make the Ipswich Town No. 1 spot his own this season, writes Derek Davis.

In what promises to be an intriguing contest, the Wales Under-21 keeper will battle it out with Irish youth international Shane Supple, to start the campaign on August 6, between the Blues' posts.

In terms of experience Price, who will be 21 next Tuesday, has the edge over FA Youth Cup winner Supple. He has 11 first-team outings for Town and a further six League Two appearances while on loan at tonight's opponents Cambridge United.

With Kelvin Davis sold to Sunderland and manager Joe Royle indicating he won't be bringing in an older gloveman, the friendly but determined fight for the No. 1 spot is between the talented Town duo.


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Price said: "It looks that way at the moment, although that could change and if it does you have to respect the gaffer's decision.

"It is important for me to claim the No. 1 jersey because then I can work on trying to be No. 1 for Wales but at the moment the priority is doing well for Ipswich."

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Despite getting on well with 18-year-old Supple, who was man of the match in the Youth Cup final win over Southampton, Price knows he has to be ruthless in achieving his aim.

He said: "All the players get on well but on top of that we have our own little union of goalkeepers and we are a close-knit group.

"We are in competition and it will be slightly different for Shane and myself because when Kelvin was here we always knew he would play if fit.

"There is no animosity at all between me and Shane and although I will be gutted if I'm not the one playing on the Saturday I will still be there for Shane or whoever."

The 6ft 3ins keeper appreciates it is going to be a tough challenge ahead, maintaining the consistency needed, but feels his mini-run early last season will hold him in good stead.

Price has never been on the losing side in his nine Championship appearances for Town, including a seven-game streak early last season when Davis was out injured.

He made his debut in a come-from-behind win at Gillingham in April 2004 and his last outing was in the 1-1 draw at Leeds United last April when Davis rushed home to be at his daughter's birth.

Price said: "People say the first two seasons are the most difficult for young players simply because we are not used to playing week-in, week-out. In the reserves you get breaks but when you move up to the first team it can be two games a week continuously.

"I enjoyed a good run of seven games but even that is nowhere near what it like for a whole season."

An Academy graduate, Price, like Supple, has benefited from the guidance of goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes and Davis' help, but had mixed feelings about seeing his mentor leave.

Price said: "In one way I was sorry to see Kelvin go as he was a close friend and great keeper but that's football.

"He has got Premiership football, which he wants, and it has given me a chance to claim the No. 1 spot which is what I have always wanted."

The Bournemouth-born stopper has also had a taste of the not-so-glamorous side of football after spending a loan spell at the Abbey Stadium last November.

Robbie Newman's side fielded 28 trialists, youth-teamers and regulars, in their 3-0 win over Mildenhall on Saturday and a similar number are expected to turn out tonight.

The U's have just four contracted players, and with Danny Gleeson suffering breathing problems, only three are likely to play a part – former Town youngster Ashley Nicholls, John Turner and Darren Quinton.

Price said: "It is a sad situation at Cambridge but they did the right thing in waiting until they knew they were relegated before going into administration.

"It is a shame because they are a nice club and it is a lovely set-up there.

"I knew Ashley a little when he was at Ipswich and again when I went to Cambridge. He has done quite well there and I know it won't be easy with so many players looking to impress."

The Blues will field two teams, giving each 45 minutes, with Sam Parkin and Nicky Forster due to start the game with Dean McDonald and Dean Bowditch leading the second-half attack.

Town squad: Price, Supple, Bowditch, Casement, Collins, Currie, De Vos, Forster, Garvan, Haynes, Horlock, Juan, Krause, Lordan, Magilton, McDonald, Moore, Naylor, Parkin, Richards, Trotter, Westlake and Wilnis.

n Ipswich Town Reserves will entertain their Norwich City counterparts at Portman Road on Monday, December 5. The game at Carrow Road is due to be the last of the season on April 10.

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