Royle goes on attack

CALL it what you will, 4-5-1, or 4-3-3, either way Ipswich will go all out attack at Leeds today.With Pablo Counago called in to start for the first time in six months, Joe Royle will be looking for the best of all three worlds.

By Derek Davis

CALL it what you will, 4-5-1, or 4-3-3, either way Ipswich will go all out attack at Leeds today.

With Pablo Counago called in to start for the first time in six months, Joe Royle will be looking for the best of all three worlds.

Counago, Darren Bent and Shekfi Kuqi all bring different attributes to the party at Leeds and, if the chemistry is right, then it could be explosive.


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The trio have only started together once before this season. It worked well and they were 2-0 up at Watford, with Bent and Ian Westlake scoring before Counago was substituted. Ipswich then fell apart and ended up clinging on for a 2-2 draw.

Counago has not started since, as Royle tried to push him out of the club to save on his £12,000-a-week wages. The Spaniard did not respond well to being dropped to the reserves and never really showed enough to get his place back.

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He turned down the chance to go out on loan to Preston and to sign for a Spanish second division club.

Three goals in five reserve games recently showed he had rediscovered his appetite and form. An impressive 15 minutes against Sunderland, where he helped set up Bent's equaliser after a Kuqi flick on, looks to have earned him a recall.

If, as looks likely, those three start, then that means a midfielder missing out. If Kuqi is played wide left, Darren Currie may be the one sacrificed.

Such an attack-minded team would need defensive cover, so Kevin Horlock is likely to get the nod and play just in front of the back four.

Skipper Jim Magilton was dropped for the home game against Sunderland but his influence was missed and his passing ability will be needed, along with Tommy Miller's experience and craft, which could mean no place for the energetic Ian Westlake.

The Blues boss made no secret of his plans to get at Leeds right from the first whistle, but warned Town could face a similar situation to that at Wolves, when a relaxed Glenn Hoddle side tore them apart in the first half.

He said: “We only know one way to play and that is to go out and win. We have never gone out with a five-man midfield trying not to lose the game, so we will do our normal and try and win the game.

“Leeds are similar to Wolves really. They have a massive squad and have probably under-achieved this year.

“They are already looking forward to next year but they will see us as a scalp.

“It is a big pitch and there is great expectations among their fans. It is a similar situation to us going to Wolves, only we need to start a lot better.”

Drissa Diallo has been added to the squad and may start on the bench, which could mean no place for James Scowcroft, who has been carrying a groin injury, or young defender Matt Richards.

n Ipswich Town Football Club will be providing a beam-back of Town's final match of the season from Brighton, offering fans unable to attend the match the chance to see all of the action at Portman Road.

Town's allocation of 756 tickets for the match at The Withdean Stadium on Sunday, May 8 quickly sold out and John Ford, the club's ticket office manager, said the beam-back will give more fans the chance to see this crucial match.

The game, which kicks-off at 1pm, will be shown on plasma screens in The Legends Bar, The Galleria, The Far Post Bar and The Sir Alf Ramsey Suite with tickets priced at £10.

Tickets are on sale to Gold Club Members and can be purchased through the club ticket office or the Club's Planet Blue stores.

Season ticket holders can reserve their places from April 27, Silver Club members from April 29 with any remaining tickets going on general sale on May 2.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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