Royle eyeing play-off position

BLUES boss Joe Royle wants Ipswich to go into the international break eyeing a play-off place rather than be worrying about getting sucked into the basement battle.

By Derek Davis

BLUES boss Joe Royle wants Ipswich to go into the international break eyeing a play-off place rather than be worrying about getting sucked into the basement battle.

Town entertain fourth-from-bottom Crewe Alexandra, at Portman Road, after finding themselves back where they started after two away days.

The win at Leeds United pushed them into the top half of the table but defeat at Burnley meant they slipped to 11th.

After a mixed few days on the road, Town have the chance to make it six points from a possible nine, which sounds a lot better than just the one win in six games. Royle said: “It is a very important game for us because it can make a difference to us this early. If we win, we can go into the break looking upwards to the top six. If not, we will be looking over our shoulder, so we are desperate to win.

“If we do win, then it also means a decent little run of two wins in three.”

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Dario Gradi's side also took a midweek hiding but, unlike Town, they were comprehensively outplayed as they went down 4-0 at home to Wolves.

But Royle will not read too much into that, after experiencing Crewe's powers of recovery in the past.

He said: “Crewe are the great unpredictables. I'm never surprised by their results either way. They have made a habit over the years of beating the top sides and then lose to the sides who you would expect them to beat.

“We are a bit like that ourselves at the moment. We are still finding our feet and looking for consistency. We are improving but we need to be better at scoring.”

Royle hopes the return of Nicky Forster from injury will spur on the Blues, although the former Reading hit-man won't be considered for a starting place.

Forster came through his first training session with the senior players without mishap yesterday and another good day today will earn him place on the bench.

Royle said: “Nicky won't start but we are keen to get him back involved a soon as possible. With the break coming up this is the only chance he has of getting some real football into him before the Reading game.

“He has been doing a lot of remedial work and been training with the Academy lads, in fact anyone he can find to train with. His attitude has been first class.”

Another player Royle is keen to have back is Ian Westlake, who is recovering from an ankle ligament problem and, after a couple of weeks of immobilisation, is now allowed to do some fitness work and is back in his second home - the swimming pool.

Royle said: “Ian is making good progress and he is in the water again which has made him happy.”

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