Royle already looking to next term

PROPER planning prevents poor performance and Joe Royle is already preparing for promotion to the Premiership next season, writes Derek Davis.The Blues boss will cull a couple more names from his squad this week and has already drawn up a wish list of new players to strengthen his squad for the new campaign.

PROPER planning prevents poor performance and Joe Royle is already preparing for promotion to the Premiership next season, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues boss will cull a couple more names from his squad this week and has already drawn up a wish list of new players to strengthen his squad for the new campaign.

Not that he is ignoring the final game against George Burley's Derby County on Sunday, a game Town want to win to finish seventh and higher than rivals Norwich City.

With a raft of youngsters likely to be named in the first-team squad for Sunday, Town are already marking out their future. But Royle has also drawn up a list of players he will be looking to contact once the club has come out of administration, which if the CVA is accepted will be at the end of May.


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I understand the comprehensive list consists of a dozen centre-halves including some from the Premiership but not Middlesbrough's Tony Vidmar, who Ipswich were linked with last weekend.

Alun Armstrong was handed a free transfer last week and Jim Magilton, Fabian Wilnis and Richard Naylor will all be out of contract in the summer, although Royle has said he will be offering them a deal.

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Magilton is likely to move back to the north-west for family reasons while the other two have both indicated they want to stay.

Town will be able to draw a line under the season on Sunday afternoon but Royle refuses to allow his players to take things easy.

There may not be any trophies on offer but the pride of Anglia is a cherished prize for supporters from around the region.

Town hold the bragging rights with a win at Carrow Road, but would hate to see the Canaries leap-frog them on the final day.

Royle said: "If we can't finish sixth then I want us to finish seventh. I know how much it means to the supporters to finish higher than Norwich and that would be great for them but equally I want us to finish as high as possible."

City's Mark Rivers has thrown down the gauntlet to Town by saying: "We want to do justice to ourselves and get a win and then hopefully we will finish above Ipswich. Obviously we want to finish as high in the table as possible – that goes without saying – but to go above them next Sunday would be a morale-booster for us – and I know how much it would mean to the fans as well.

"It would mean a lot for local pride, so that's what we're aiming for now."

Fabian Wilnis and Tommy Miller are injury doubts, while Town will hope Matt Holland returns unscathed from an international friendly against Norway.

Derby have already fixed up a high-profile friendly with Ajax at Pride Park as a curtain-raiser to next season, with or without Burley in charge.

n JOHN Wark could not inspire his side made up of supporters to victory against a Simon Milton-led XI despite a vintage hat-trick. The supporters were paying for the privilege of playing at Portman Road for Football Aid, a charity to help youngsters suffering from type one diabetes, but Wark's side went down 7-4.

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