Royle hails Town's break

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle hailed his team's sunshine break in Tenerife as a "great team-bonding exercise" before flying home last night, writes Nick Garnham.

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle hailed his team's sunshine break in Tenerife as a "great team-bonding exercise" before flying home last night, writes Nick Garnham.

The 18-strong squad flew out on Sunday evening, after their 4-2 defeat at Burnley the previous day, to recharge their batteries ahead of their remaining 14 Nationwide League Division One fixtures.

Royle, speaking from the airport before boarding the flight home, said: "It has gone very well. It has been a good exercise and everyone has enjoyed it. It has been a mix of relaxation and work.

"It was meant to be a break to freshen minds and bodies. They have played golf and trained together. The players are fit and relaxed and it has been a great team-bonding exercise."


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Royle said it was too early to say whether midfielder Chris Bart-Williams, who missed the Burnley match due to his sore back, would be back in contention for Saturday's home league game against Preston.

He said: "Chris has done some training, but we have only been doing some running, so we will see how he is when we get back football-wise."

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Royle has no other injury worries ahead of the Preston game which will see Shefki Kuqi serving a one-match ban after accumulating five bookings.

Kuqi picked up his fourth caution since he has been at Ipswich in the 3-1 home win against relegation-threatened Bradford City a fortnight ago.

The Finnish international striker served a one-match ban for a dismissal while playing for former club Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the season, but had forgotten about a booking he received while playing for the Owls against Swindon.

After five goals in his last eight games in a Town shirt and nine in 26 since arriving at Portman Road, Kuqi's presence will be missed against Preston.

Royle said: "Shefki has been terrific for us since he arrived. He has a great physical presence and works hard for the team.

"He has a strike rate of one goal in every three games for us which is very respectable."

Visitors Preston, who currently occupy 12th spot in the table – seven places but only four points behind Town, have been rocked by a double injury blow.

Former Scottish international midfielder Brian O'Neil has been ruled out for the remainder of the season by a knee injury.

And manager Craig Brown's injury worries worsened with the news that Marlon Broomes will miss the next month with a medial knee ligament problem picked up in a freak training ground accident.

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