Proudlock out to prove a point

ADAM Proudlock, a player anxious to prove a point, will return to action for Ipswich in tonight's home reserve game against West Ham, kick-off 7pm.A persistent knee problem has meant that the 24-year-old striker, who is effectively on trial at Portman Road, has been restricted to just two minutes of senior action this year, when he was introduced as a late substitute in Town's 2-2 draw at Stoke three weeks ago.

By Mel Henderson

ADAM Proudlock, a player anxious to prove a point, will return to action for Ipswich in tonight's home reserve game against West Ham, kick-off 7pm.

A persistent knee problem has meant that the 24-year-old striker, who is effectively on trial at Portman Road, has been restricted to just two minutes of senior action this year, when he was introduced as a late substitute in Town's 2-2 draw at Stoke three weeks ago.

The former Wolves striker has managed just seven first-team outings, three of them starts, and has yet to score his first goal since arriving from Sheffield Wednesday in October.


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Initially sacked by the Hillsborough club, and then reinstated to facilitate a loan move to Ipswich, he signed a contract earlier this month to remain at Portman Road until the end of the season.

Manager Joe Royle said: “Adam has done very well in his appearances, demonstrating the ability we all know is there, and now that he is fit he needs continuity to mount his stake for a contract beyond the end of the season.

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“Hopefully Adam will be able to make a big contribution during what is left of the season. I imagine he will be looking to give me a big nudge in the coming months.”

Town's hope is that Proudlock will emerge unscathed this evening and then be able to progress to the senior squad for their next Championship assignment, which is at home to third-placed Leeds United in a week's time.

His fitness, along with the fact that Nicky Forster continues to show signs of improvement and broken ankle victim Sam Parkin could be just three weeks away from a return to action, may yet persuade Royle not to pursue his plan to introduce another striker on loan.

The Town manager added: “It is a fine balance. It is no secret that I am looking to bring in a striker on loan for a month and I will continue to look, although the need is a little less urgent now.

“Having said that, if one of the two players I want was to become available, I may well decide to go through with it. On the other hand, if neither club wants to part company with those players, I will not lose any sleep over it.

“Alan Lee has obviously come in and done well for us. He has given us a further option and we are now unbeaten in our last four league games. With players returning from injury, things are definitely looking up.”

Royle was encouraged by his team's display in winning 2-0 at Southampton on Saturday, thanks to Lee's first goals for the club in only his second appearance since completing a £100,000 move from Cardiff.

He said: “The angle from the game on Saturday seems to have been that Southampton are a team, and a club, in turmoil, but nothing should detract from a fine performance by us, particularly in the second half.

“Alan has made a terrific contribution but I genuinely believe it will take him another four or five games to be at his sharpest. He's not fully wound up yet so there is definitely more to come.

“Nicky Forster is also improving all the time. A lot of the swelling has disappeared from his knee, although it is still too early to say whether or not he will be available against Leeds next Tuesday.”

The Ipswich reserve line-up is also likely to include out-of-favour striker Dean Bowditch, who recently asked if he could depart on loan before the transfer window closes in a week's time.

Bowditch is likely to attract a number of scouts, who will also be casting an eye over wing ace Dean McDonald after Town recently rejected a £75,000 offer from Hartlepool following the ex-Arsenal trainee's five-game loan spell with the League One club.

Experienced midfielder Kevin Horlock, who has been told he can leave and whose Portman Road contract will not be renewed in the summer, is also likely to be under scrutiny, while Norwegian import Vemund Brekke Skard will be playing his second reserve game.

Ipswich Reserves (from): Price, Moore, Casement, Mitchell, Ainsley, Peters, Horlock, Skard, McDonald, Bowditch, Proudlock, Knights, Trotter, Short and Lordan.

Tickets for Ipswich Town's Championship match away to Norwich City on Sunday, February 5 have now sold out. Around 2,400 Town fans will be in a capacity crowd for the 11.15am kick-off. The game is also live on Sky Sports.

The reserve games against Coventry on February 1 and Crystal Palace on February 15 are scheduled to be played at Needham Market but, like tonight's game, may be moved back to Portman Road. A final decision will be made nearer the time.

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