Royle angry over missing play-offs

HE may come across as Jovial Joe but Blues boss Royle is still inwardly seething that Town are not going into the final game of the season with a shout of the play-offs, writes Derek Davis.

HE may come across as Jovial Joe but Blues boss Royle is still inwardly seething that Town are not going into the final game of the season with a shout of the play-offs, writes Derek Davis.

Recriminations, ranting or raving are not Royle's style but while many of the 4,000 Ipswich Town supporters travel to Pride Park tomorrow thinking this is all about an end-of-season party, wake or whatever, Royle is still serious about three points.

For the first time in 10 years Ipswich go into the last game of the regular season with nothing meaningful to play for; usually it is promotion or relegation and in one glorious year a remote chance of a Champions' League place, ironically enough also at Pride Park.

Royle said: "Perhaps it was a bridge too far in the end but I still feel we should have got in the play-offs. In fact, I'm still frustrated and a little angry that we never made it.

"I wish we had another 10 games left because if we had I'm sure we would have gone up.

"I want us to go out on a high. Our form in the second half of the season has been outstanding at times and as we can't finish sixth I want to us to finish seventh and if that means we finish above Norwich then that is great for the fans."

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Royle takes six teenagers with the squad this afternoon for tomorrow's 1.30pm kick-off but will not be tempted to chuck them all in.

Aidan Collins, the 16-year-old Chelmsford schoolboy who has just been inducted into the Ipswich Academy, has a chance of making an appearance in the second half. Antonio Murray is promoted to the first-team squad for the first time, along with keeper Lewis Price, but both will have to settle just for that experience at the moment.

Royle said: "It may sound daft for a game like this but with so much at stake it is probably the wrong time to blood too many youngsters. The kids will get their chance but not all together as I want us to go out on a high."

Tommy Miller and Fabian Wilnis have both recovered well from calf and knee injuries respectively and are likely to start.

Matt Bloomfield misses out with medial ligament damage, which will also rule him out of the England Under-19 tournament later this month. Ian Westlake is also out with a similar injury and both would have had a chance of appearing.

There will not have been much need for a scouting report by the opposition with former Town boss George Burley in interim charge at Pride Park.

Royle said: "George knows most of the lads here and I know a lot of our lads think highly of him. They have a great loyalty to him, which I understand because he did a fantastic job here.

"Fair play to him, he has done very well at Derby and they have stayed up which was their main task. I know he has a great affection for Ipswich but he will want to beat us."

Burley, who still lives near Ipswich, will be taking on the club at which he spent 22 mostly successful years as a player and manager.

The Ipswich game will also be his seventh and last as interim manager of the Rams, a role he has held while boss John Gregory has been suspended.

He said: "It will be very strange coming up against Ipswich after spending so long at the club.

"Every one of the players who will face us on Sunday I took to Ipswich or brought through the youth system.

"I also have many friends at the club and a good relationship with the fans.

"When I saw the final fixture of the season was Derby versus Ipswich, I was hoping Derby would be safe and Ipswich would still have a chance of making the play-offs.

"That would have made it some fixture."

Georgian international Giorgi Kinkladze, who played briefly under Royle at Manchester City, has recovered from a viral infection, and midfielder Rob Lee looks to be back in favour.

Keepers Andy Oakes and Lee Grant are vying for a return from injury with teenager Lee Camp fit to play. Paul Ritchie and Warren Barton are doubts while Steve Elliott is out.

Derby County: Oakes, Jackson, Barton, Boertin, Mills, Lee, Murray, Mooney, Valakari, Burley, McLeod, Ravanelli, Kinkladze, Camp, Bolder, Twigg and Evatt.

Ipswich Town: Marshall, Wilnis, Richards, Miller, Gaardsoe, Makin, Magilton, Holland, Counago, M Bent, Reuser, D Bent, Price, Collins, Bowditch and Murray.

Referee: Paul Rejer (Worcester).

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