Royle expects a beautiful game

WHILE the artisans have already been promoted, the artists from Ipswich and West Ham are hoping they will join them in the Premiership.

WHILE the artisans have already been promoted, the artists from Ipswich and West Ham are hoping they will join them in the Premiership, writes Derek Davis.

The semi-finals have matched the two teams who are most recognised as 'footballing' sides and both managers agree it will be a contest of who does it best over two games.

Royle is full of praise for the way Alan Pardew has got over a sticky start at Upton Park and has got the Londoners playing.

He said: "Alan did a very good job at Reading but seemed to struggle when he first got to West Ham. But he has done well recently and seems to have turned them around."

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The Blues boss also feels that Pardew's men will love playing at Ipswich, just as others have before them this season.

He said: "I'm very aware that we are the two passing teams in the semi-finals – I'm also aware that every team that comes to Portman Road looks at our pitch and relishes it.

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"West Ham will relish the pitch as well but you can't have a pitch that you want to play on and complain that the opposition like it too."

With Tommy Miller passed fit and training as normal now, Royle has a full squad to choose from.

He said: "We are as strong as we can be, let's hope we are better than we were last Sunday."

Just as Pardew is content to play Town, he accepts the feeling will be mutual at Portman Road.

He said: "Ipswich will probably be content they have us. They will be saying that West Ham like to play football and that suits us.

"Likewise we're looking at them and saying 'yes, maybe it will be a decent game.' We'll see who is the best footballing team.

"We will both have our teams well prepared. I have my own experience of the play-offs which, I think, might come in useful and he has his experience from all the years he's been in the game."

While Town are old hands at the play-offs, this is a completely new experience for West Ham, although Hammers boss Pardew is hoping it will be third time lucky for him after twice missing out with Reading.

He said: "People are saying that us and Palace are the favourites because we've hit form and yes, it is important to be in good shape.

"Nothing is guaranteed, though. The best teams usually do win over two legs but that's not the way in the final. That's the chance game.

"The one thing that reassures me this year is that I have better cover.

"I didn't have that on the other two occasions but this time, even at this higher level, I feel stronger with the players I have in reserve, should we suffer an injury. Losing a key player is an occupational hazard, but I do feel we are better protected than most."

Royle admitted he was surprised that the game had not sold out already, with 4,000 tickets still available.

He said: "We could do with a full house and everyone roaring us on.

He joked: "I don't think we sent the fans away unhappy last week, perhaps some can't stand the pressure."

The ticket office will be open today until 8pm for personal callers – telephone applications cannot be dealt with as there would be too little time to post tickets out.

There will be no cash turnstiles tomorrow but the ticket office will be open from 9am until kick off at 12.15pm.

Those fans collecting tickets already purchased should do so between 9am and 11am from the ticket collection point on the corner of Constantine Road.

Ipswich Town squad: Davis, Wilnis, Richards, Wright, McGreal, Elliott, Magilton, Miller, Bent, Bowditch, Westlake, Reuser, Naylor, Kuqi, Bart-Williams, Santos and Price.

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