Quartet come through unscathed

JOE Royle's plans for the trip to Derby County were handed a massive boost last night when John McGreal came through 90 minutes in the reserves' 5-1 victory over Nottingham Forest.

JOE Royle's plans for the trip to Derby County were handed a massive boost last night when John McGreal came through 90 minutes in the reserves' 5-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, writes Derek Davis.

Alun Armstrong also managed a full game and Martijn Reuser looked as sharp as can be expected as he completed three-quarters of a game, while Darren Bent went off at half-time.

Armstrong hit a hat-trick, and Bowditch bagged a brace in the romp against a hard-working, plucky young Forest. But the important thing was the clean bill of health for Town.

Blues boss Royle last night said: “It was good to see they all came through fine. John has never had a bad game for me and he will be in the squad for Saturday which is good news.”

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It was imperative McGreal got through without mishap and providing he suffers no adverse reaction today or in training tomorrow he is expected to play at Pride Park.

McGreal declared after the second-string win at Watford that he still needed time to recover from a nine-and-a-half month injury lay-off.

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He was omitted from the squad against Gillingham on Saturday but looked comfortable last night against a young Forest side, which had 10 Academy players in their squad.

Ideally he could do with a couple more weeks before coming back but needs must and with Richard Naylor suspended for Saturday, the former Tranmere defender will be required.

With teenagers Gerard Nash and Aidan Collins not fully fit, Royle's only other option would be to shuffle Fabian Wilnis across to central defence and use Scott Mitchell at right-back.

But Mitchell complained of a niggle during the game and was moved out wide with 5'6'' Michael Synott going into central defence.

Darren Bent had not played for Town since the defeat at Sunderland five weeks ago as he struggled with a knee injury. And before he went off at half-time as planned, to be replaced by Nabil Abidallah, the England under-21 striker helped set up two goals.

Armstrong showed no ill-effects from a bruised calf which kept him out last week at Watford and Saturday's first-team squad for Gillingham and netted a hat-trick.

Blues went ahead after just four minutes when Bent headed into Bowditch's path and his low shot was deflected past Roche.

Bent was involved in the second following good work by Reuser and a Bowditch cross, when he again headed down, this time Armstrong poked in from six inches.

Ipswich might have run away with it but Forest dug in and were rewarded five minutes before the break when Weir-Daley pounced on a defensive error to beat Price from eight yards, for their first away goal of the season.

Armstrong hit his second with an 18-yard shot which was deflected just two minutes after the break

He grabbed his hat-trick with the goal of the night, a sweetly struck 30-yard shot which curled past the keeper for Town's fifth.

Bowditch had made it four with a convincing finish after he played Abidallah down the flank and his cross was cleared only as far as the young Town marksman.

It was a comfortable victory for Town against a Forest side bottom of the reserve league and slumping to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Ipswich Town Reserves: Price, Synott, Barron, Murray (Manning, 46) McGreal, Mitchell, Reuser (Flack, 64) Bloomfield, Armstrong, Bowditch, Bent (Abidallah, 46) Substitutes: Atay, Supple.

Nottingham Forest Reserves: Roche, Perch, Biggins, Beumont, Hurren, Webb, Groves (Bodkin, 67) Weir-Daley, Westcarr, Gardner, Haskins. Substitutes: Freyne, Morgan, Formann.

Referee: F Graham.

Attendance: 540.

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