Royle promises goals

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle, looking ahead to tomorrow's FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland, has promised goals, writes Carl Marston.Town were involved in a 10-goal thriller against Crewe last weekend, winning 6-4 to move into fifth spot in the Division One table.

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle, looking ahead to tomorrow's FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland, has promised goals, writes Carl Marston.

Town were involved in a 10-goal thriller against Crewe last weekend, winning 6-4 to move into fifth spot in the Division One table.

Attention now switches to the Cup. The Suffolk club have not reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for eight years, but Royle is confident that his side have the firepower to shoot down visiting Sunderland.

"We are one of the highest scorers in the League, while Sunderland have one of the tightest defences," said Royle.

"I suppose that could point to a 0-0 draw, but we don't seem to do 0-0s at Portman Road anymore. There will be goals, I'm sure of that.

"We have so many forward-thinking players in the team. We have been conceding goals as well, but that only becomes a problem when we're not scoring ourselves. We just have to get the balance right," added Royle.

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Town have scored 53 goals in 28 league matches, which is seven more than any other club in Division One.

In fact, only Division Two leaders Plymouth (62) and Third Division pace-setters Hull City (55) have scored more goals in the Football League this term.

Sunderland, by contrast, have based their success on a miserly defence. Mick McCarthy's men are one place and one point above Town, thanks to the second best defensive record in the First Division. Only West Brom have conceded fewer goals – 23, as opposed to the Black Cats' 24.

The psychological advantage could lie with Sunderland, who pipped Town 3-2 in a league contest at the Stadium of Light at the end of September.

Royle insisted: "We owe Sunderland one for beating us up there.

"I felt that we should have got at least a point that night. We faced an aerial bombardment, and they physically pummelled us to get the 3-2 win.

"However, we've worked on that aspect of our game in training. I'm hoping that we will be able to deal with that this time.

"Sunderland are a big, strong side. Kevin Kyle is a big striker who likes to put himself about a bit. He scored the winner against us.

"However, I'm very relieved that Marcus Stewart is not playing, because of his suspension.

"I'm always wary of players going back to their old clubs. Marcus is considered a legend in these parts, and he would have been like a man possessed, had he been able to play in this game," added Royle.

Town have several absentees, and several doubts, ahead of tomorrow's Portman Road clash.

Front runner Darren Bent and centre-half Georges Santos are definite non-starters, while John McGreal and Chris Bart-Williams face late fitness tests.

Bent has still not recovered from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the last three weeks. He picked up that injury during the 3-0 victory over Derby in the previous round of the Cup.

Santos twisted his ankle in training on Wednesday.

Royle explained: "It is not a bad strain, but I expect Georges to be out for a couple of weeks."

Midfielder Bart-Williams trained yesterday and should be fit, while a late decision will be made on McGreal.

"Chris (Bart-Williams) had a little manipulation on the back after training, but I would expect him to play. John (McGreal) is a wait-and-see situation.

"There's a question mark hanging over him," said Royle.

Drissa Diallo could start his first match for four months, having appeared as a second-half substitute against Crewe.

Diallo suffered knee ligament damage during Town's 4-1 win over Wimbledon on September 20.

Royle continued: "Drissa (Diallo) has only played two-and-a-half reserve games, which is not really enough for a player who has been out for four months.

"But he's a very fit lad and, when the team was struggling because we couldn't score goals at the start of the season, he was man-of-the-match most weeks."

Town right-back Fabian Wilnis will return to the side after missing only his second league match of the season against Crewe, due to a one-match suspension.

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