Royle not sure on strikers

GOAL-happy Ipswich Town go to Watford tomorrow with manager Joe Royle still not sure of his best combination up front.The Blues boss has the option of combining leading scorer Shefki Kuqi and pace man Darren Bent - fully fit after a hamstring injury - or going to three up front and adding either Dean Bowditch or Pablo Counago to the mix.

By Derek Davis

GOAL-happy Ipswich Town go to Watford tomorrow with manager Joe Royle still not sure of his best combination up front.

The Blues boss has the option of combining leading scorer Shefki Kuqi and pace man Darren Bent - fully fit after a hamstring injury - or going to three up front and adding either Dean Bowditch or Pablo Counago to the mix.

Alternatively he could use any permutation of the four to make up a strike force that has netted 13 goals between them in a Town league total of 26.


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Royle has the luxury of an unchanged squad of 16 but may consider tinkering with the attack which was more effective when Counago was introduced in the past two games and they came back to salvage a point.

Royle said: “At the moment all four strikers are involved but it is a case of finding a partnership.

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“We still have not found a pairing that are screaming 'hey it has got to be us every week'.

“Through all that we continue to score goals, mostly a spread of goals rather than an individual top scorer, which is nice because if your leading scorer dries up then you have problems.”

Royle is slightly more concerned with what is going on defensively, especially as he rates Watford duo Danny Webber and Heidar Helguson as among the best around.

The Hornets attack has shown plenty of sting this season with 12 of their 17 goals coming from the front pair.

Former Manchester United youngster Webber, who also had a loan spell at Port Vale, was signed for a nominal fee last season. This year he has knocked in nine goals in 13 games. His partner Helguson, an Icelandic international, has also started to weigh in with three goals in his last seven outings.

The last thing Royle wants to see is his side having to come from behind yet again.

Royle said: “Watford are going well and have two of the best front men in this division which is a big reason why they are doing so well.

“Webber and Helguson would get in most sides in this division so we have to be aware of that. We are going to have to be tighter at the back and they need to be meaner.

“I was unhappy with both of the goals against us at Leicester but credit the lads they do keep coming back.

“But we don't want to keep coming from behind. It is happening too often.”

Former Luton keeper Kelvin Davis is still not ready and Lewis Price will continue his run in the side after a couple of man of the match displays.

Royle admitted that Town's search for a loan player is on hold after failing to land any of their targets.

Graham Stuart, Justin Hoyte, Chris Baird and Dougie Freedman are among the players strongly linked with the Blues this season but all have chosen to stay at their respective clubs - so far.

Royle said: “The players I want are not available so I'm prepared to wait. We are not doing too badly with the players we have got so there is no point in taking a loan player just for the sake of it.”

Watford are also likely to be unchanged from the side which drew with Sunderland in midweek after losing Bryn Gunnarsson after he slipped and injured his groin during the warm- up in that match.

Ipswich Town squad: Price, Supple, Diallo, Wilnis, Richards, De Vos, Naylor, Mitchell, Horlock, Magilton, Miller, Westlake, Bowditch, Counago, Bent and Kuqi.

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