Royle gets Rover in to bolster defence

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night moved to sort out his team's defensive frailties by signing Blackburn full-back Jay McEveley on a season-long loan.

BLUES boss Joe Royle last night moved to sort out his team's defensive frailties by signing Blackburn full-back Jay McEveley on a season-long loan, writes Derek Davis.

The 19-year-old defender, who has already been in the England Under-21 squad, was at Portman Road to watch Town's 4-0 defeat by Preston North End but is still keen join.

Everton fan McEveley rejected a loan move to Stoke to join Town and last night told how he was not fazed by a challenge, after spending loan spells at Gillingham and Burnley in the past.

He said: “I played against Ipswich for Gillingham and felt I had a good game. Going there did me the world of good. I must have done well at Gillingham because Ipswich have taken me now and I'm looking to help them.”

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McEveley scored on his home debut for the Gills in the 2-1 win over Stoke and then played in the goalless draw against Town. In the 10 games he played for the Gills he was on the losing side just once, as Stan Ternent turned their fortunes around but could not stop them going down on the last day of the season.

The Liverpool-born youngster has also made 14 Premiership appearances, and the last one came in May in Blackburn's 0-0 draw at Spurs, but he sees his future back at Ewood Park.

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Rovers have the option of taking him back in January but otherwise he will stay at Ipswich all season and playing for Royle was one of the attractions.

He said: “The gaffer will be happy about me being an Evertonian. I'm too young to remember him as a player but I have heard all about him.

“A couple of clubs came in for me but I chose Ipswich because they play football, not like some other Championship teams who just launch it. That will suit my game and hold me in good stead for when I get back to Blackburn, because they like to play it as well.”

Rovers boss Mark Hughes was not too keen on allowing McEveley out on loan but finally relented. McEveley said: “I asked about going out on loan last week but at first Mark Hughes told me he wasn't keen on loaning me out but then agreed it would be good for me to get some more games under my belt.”

Town have also offered Spaniard Oscar Vales a contract but talks have stalled over personal terms and it is unlikely the former Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao centre-back will be involved in the reserve match at Fulham tonight as originally planned.

Royle is keen to bring in at least one more player before the transfer window closes tomorrow, especially after his squad was exposed by Preston yesterday.

It was Town's biggest home defeat since Wimbledon beat them 5-1 in May 2003. It would have been worse as they were three down by half-time, with David Nugent netting twice and then David Jones before Patrick Agyemang knocked in a late second-half fourth. Royle said: “Goals change games. Our keeper has had nothing to do yet he has picked four out of the net.

“I'm not saying we were fantastic but we passed it very well first half without looking a goal threat.

“I'm not making excuses but more in mitigation, we have had a lot of players missing and we were found wanting at both ends.

“I hear Preston have been in turmoil because they have lost two players. We have lost six players during the summer. Then we lose our two centre-halves and a striker so, all in all, the start we have had is magnificent. Our best 11 has not played together for a few games but, by the time we come round to the Sheffield United game, we will be a lot stronger, as we will have Jason De Vos and Richard Naylor back.”

Nugent angered Town fans by his over-reaction after a foul on Sito Castro, for which he was booked, but then escaped another caution after taunting Town fans during his goal celebrations. Manager Billy Davies admitted he had a quiet word with the player he picked up for a bargain £100,000 from Bury last January but, at the same time, doesn't want to stifle a player he thinks is heading for the top.

Everton, Nugent's boyhood team, are believed to be keen on the striker who also scored against Town last season. Davies said: “That was just stupid and he has got to learn. At the same time, that is the animal you get, one with a bit of stupidity and a bit off the rails. That is why he will be a top, top player.”

Match report - Pages 40&41

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