Royle hoping for a visit from Santos

BLUES boss Joe Royle is today hoping to include French defender Georges Santos on Ipswich Town's trip to Scandinavia, writes Derek Davis.Royle moved to secure the imposing 6'3" central defender after Thomas Gaardsoe was forced to miss the week-long tour of Sweden and Denmark with an ankle injury picked up in the 4-2 win at Southend United on Tuesday.

BLUES boss Joe Royle is today hoping to include French defender Georges Santos on Ipswich Town's trip to Scandinavia, writes Derek Davis.

Royle moved to secure the imposing 6'3" central defender after Thomas Gaardsoe was forced to miss the week-long tour of Sweden and Denmark with an ankle injury picked up in the 4-2 win at Southend United on Tuesday.

He said: "We are hopeful of getting Santos out to Sweden to join us. He is in talks with a French club at the moment but he has indictated he wants to come out so we can take a close look at each other."

Santos had returned to France after turning down a new offer at Grimsby Town and would be available as a free agent if he impresses during the matches against AIF Mjallby, Helsingor and Trelleborg IF.


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Born in Marseilles, Santos has played internationally for the Cape Verde Islands and started his English career aged 28 when he joined Tranmere Rovers five years ago.

West Bromwich Albion paid £25,000 but he made just eight appearances for them, including his home debut against Ipswich.

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A more successful stint at Sheffield United followed, where he was a team-mate of Marcus Bent. A two-minute substitute appearance marked the end of his Blades career after he was sent off and his next port of call was Grimsby Town.

He played in the 3-0 win at Blundell Park last season, the game which marked the end of George Burley's reign and he was involved in the 2-2 draw at Portman Road last February.

A robust player who has been booked 34 times and sent off three times in his English career, Santos is a committed defender who can also play in midfield.

The squad are due to fly out from Gatwick this morning without Gaardsoe and Jermaine Wright to play three games in six days in Sweden and Denmark.

Gaardsoe went over on his ankle after landing awkwardly early in the win over Southend United. He was playing a holding role in midfield and did quite well despite the impediment.

The ankle swelled heavily overnight and he is now on crutches. It is the second time he has suffered disappointment on pre-season trips to Scandinavia; last season he was left out of the Blues team which played against his old club Aab Aalborg, something he found it hard to forgive former manager George Burley for.

Gaardsoe said: "I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to playing in Denmark again but the most important thing is to get the injury sorted out in time for the start of the season."

With John McGreal still recovering from a knee operation, teenager Aidan Collins continuing to learn and Richard Naylor growing into the position, Royle only has Drissa Diallo as an experienced centre-back and he needs time to bed in.

Also missing out on the trip is midfielder Jermaine Wright, who is struggling with a groin strain. It is believed the injury is not directly connected to the hernia problems he suffered last season culminating in an operation.

Little Dutchman Nabil Abidallah gets his berth and another chance to try to impress Royle, who handed him a free transfer in April. Swiss side FC Thun took him on a week's trial but he was a bit rich for their blood and returned at the end of May.

Triallist Javier Sanchez Broto joins Lewis Price in the goalkeeping position with the two sharing duties in Sweden and Denmark.

Although not fit yet, Broto has already impressed in training sessions and if he can show the ability that made him popular at Celtic, and the willingness to put the Scottish experience behind him, he could soon find himself as the Blues No. 1, even if the shirt is worn by someone else.

Town are still hopeful Matteo Sereni will agree terms with Lazio although the longer he is away and nothing is sorted out the more chance he will end up being fined as the lost passport excuse wears thin.

Even with Matt Holland sold, Town appear well off in midfield with Jim Magilton's vast experience, Tommy Miller's ability, coupled with Martijn Reuser's flair and the emergence of Ian Westlake and Antonio Murray.

But it is up front where Town look particularly dangerous when everyone is fit.

Marcus Bent looked extremely sharp and threatening on Tuesday, scoring a cracking goal – with his tail up the former Blackburn striker is a menacing force.

Darren Bent is already a proven scorer and has more to come, as is the case with Pablo Counago whose Spanish style, combined with his growing knowledge of the English game, promises much.

Alun Armstrong has returned fit and bursting with enthusiasm and is possibly the most technically gifted striker at the club. And there is Dean Bowditch whose pace, vision and finishing instinct marks him out as a one to watch.

Ipswich Town squad: Price, Broto, Wilnis, Makin, Diallo, Collins, Naylor, Nash, Murray, Magilton, Miller, Reuser, Westlake, Abidallah, Armstrong, M Bent, D Bent, Counago and Bowditch.

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