Royle hoping for reinforcements

BLUES boss Joe Royle is hoping reinforcements arrive today as he looks to strengthen his promotion-chasing squad.Royle has been looking at bringing in a loan player for weeks now and made a number of enquiries earlier this month.

BLUES boss Joe Royle is hoping reinforcements arrive today as he looks to strengthen his promotion-chasing squad, writes Derek Davis.

Royle has been looking at bringing in a loan player for weeks now and made a number of enquiries earlier this month.

Last night he was waiting for a call back and is hopeful one of those deals may come off today but was staying tight-lipped about who his target was.

Royle is hoping left-back Matt Richards will join training today but only if a sore hamstring has eased after tightening following the draw at Reading on Saturday.


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With Fabian Wilnis already suspended, full-backs are proving a worry and 18-year-old Scott Barron was on stand-by to make his first appearance in the first-team squad but picked up a knock in training, decreasing his chances of a debut.

Concern is growing over Darren Bent's ankle injury and he has been sent for X-rays to find out the extent of the injury.

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The England under-21 striker was injured during the FA Cup win over Derby and was initially thought to just have bruising. But the ankle has not healed as quickly as first hoped and he will definitely miss Saturday's league game with Crewe.

The Blues take on a Crewe side who have been ravaged by injuries, especially in midfield, with Justin Cochrane needing a shoulder operation following their 1-0 win over Wimbledon.

Dave Brammer, Alan Smart, Ben Rix, Dave McCready and David Caughan are all already long-term casualties.

But Royle is wary of Crewe, and has huge respect for them and their manager Dario Gradi. He said: "Crewe continue to defy the odds. They are on the verge of the play-off places on gates of around 8,000.

"There will only be one or two names in the side that people know but they continue to turn out good footballing sides.

"They are possibly a little bit more direct than they used to be but they still play good football and pass the ball well."

Gradi cut his teeth in management by taking Wimbledon into the Football League before moving on to Crystal Palace for a short period and then Crewe where he has taken charge of more than 1,000 games.

Royle said: "Dario has a great name in football but he has found a niche that suits him. Only he will know how many opportunities he has had to move on to a bigger club but he has chosen not to."

Gradi took time out to have a routine heart operation earlier in the season when the club's form dipped but they have recovered to move up to ninth place in Division One.

Royle added: "He has come back to the game after heart surgery and their results have picked up accordingly."

n Advance tickets are now on sale for Saturday's home First Division clash with Crewe from £19 for adults, £13 concessions and £5 for under-16s.

Admission will also be available on the day, but prices increase by £1 on match days.

Also on sale are tickets for the FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland, at Portman Road, on Saturday, January 24.

General sale starts on Monday after season-ticket holders and members have had the chance to secure their own. Season-ticket holders receive a £2 discount on normal league prices if purchased in advance. All junior prices are £4.

Town's reserve game with Coventry City on Wednesday, January 21 has been moved to the training centre with a 1pm kick-off.

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