Richards happy with wing-back role

THE players love it, those fans who understand it think it is great and, while the manager insists it is about performances not formations, he will be sticking with three-at-the-back at Gillingham today, writes Derek Davis.

THE players love it, those fans who understand it think it is great and, while the manager insists it is about performances not formations, he will be sticking with three-at-the-back at Gillingham today, writes Derek Davis.

Six points, seven goals for and two consecutive clean sheets shows the system is working and one player who has clearly benefited from it is left wing-back Matt Richards.

After an absence of 10 games, Richards regained his starting place in a slightly more attacking role on the left.

Richards said: "I still have some defensive responsibilities but playing wing-back allows me to get forward more, so I enjoy it a lot.


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"With David Unsworth behind me, it helps me a lot and I have then got licence to attack a lot more and get onto the opposition's box.

"I have a lot of energy and a big part of my game is getting up and down the pitch, so this system suits me and the team is benefiting too."

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With the freedom to roam a bit more, Richards is looking to double his goal tally for the season after notching the vital goal that earned a point at Burnley.

He said: "I don't get too many opportunities during a game but I'm a confident striker of the ball so, hopefully, I can get a few more shots and, hopefully, get another goal soon."

Richards enjoyed a taste of international action earlier in the season when he made his England Under-21 debut against Ukraine at the Riverside Stadium and would love another call- up from Peter Taylor.

He said: "If I can play well for Ipswich, and we can win promotion, there is chance that England will come along again. I need to be consistent for Ipswich first then, hopefully, it will happen, which would be nice."

With good performances under their belt against Forest and then Cardiff, Richards is hoping Town can maintain their ability to prise open difficult sides.

He said: "Gillingham are still in the relegation zone so they will be fighting for everything.

"We have seen how teams will get all the players behind the ball, so we need to be creative and inventive but we have shown that we are capable of breaking down any team in this league."

Blues boss Joe Royle has included Jim Magilton in the 17-man squad, after the skipper returned from a calf injury and will decide this morning if the Irishman is fit enough to reclaim his starting place.

Royle knows Gills bosses Stan Ternent and Ronnie Jepson from old and has no doubt what sort of test Town face.

He said: "Stan's sides are never easy to play against and they will be committed.

"They are fighting for their lives and they are on a good run.

"It is the third relegation side we have faced in a week and, possibly, this is the hardest."

With Sunderland and Wigan looking to keep their lead over Town, Royle is determined to be on their shoulder for when the top two meet next month.

Royle said: "It will be important to go into the Easter break with no worse than a three-point gap."

n Jerrome Sobers and Ben Patten have been told they will not be kept on by Ipswich Town at the end of the season.

The duo arrived from non-league Ford United, now called Redbridge, and Sobers has featured as an unused substitute in the first-team squad and has played regularly for the reserves.

Both could feature in Town's reserve game against West Ham, at Portman Road, on Monday (7pm kick off).

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