Royle to focus on Town attack
JOE Royle fired an ominous warning last night by promising to turn his attentions to the Ipswich Town attack, writes Derek Davis.Despite banging in 15 goals in four friendlies the Blues can get even better up front with some fine tuning.
JOE Royle fired an ominous warning last night by promising to turn his attentions to the Ipswich Town attack, writes Derek Davis.
Despite banging in 15 goals in four friendlies the Blues can get even better up front with some fine tuning.
The Blues boss worked almost exclusively on getting the defence right during the pre-season trip to Sweden and is now looking to sharpen his strike force.
Royle admitted: “We still have things to work on but I'm pleased with how the defence is beginning to look. Now we need to work on the attack.”
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Town played with a 4-3-3 for every game causing teams problems with their options, pace and class finishing but such a formation can put pressure on the back line, unless you have someone like Georges Santos playing just in front of the central defensive pair in such a dominant fashion.
It is probably the position Thomas Gaardsoe would have filled had he not picked up ankle ligament damage at Southend. He will be out for a month or more.
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The arrival of Drissa Diallo and Santos has given an extra bite and steel in the defence, which was inconsistent and fragile last season.
Richard Naylor has slotted in alongside Diallo and looked comfortable and the emerging Aidan Collins looks a super prospect.
When John McGreal regains fitness Royle will be happy with what he has at the back.
In Fabian Wilnis and Chris Makin he has two solid full-backs and the Dutchman's penchant for going forward adds even more bite.
Matt Richards is close to fitness and will ignore the attentions of any Premiership clubs for the time being as he concentrates on regaining his starting spot.
The 18-year-old missed the trip to Sweden but Royle was delighted with the youngsters who made their first sojourn with the senior squad abroad.
Royle said: “It was good to get a closer look at lads like Gerard Nash and Antonio Murray and we can see they have a bit about them.
“We brought a few young lads and it was good experience for them. It helps them fit in with the older players and they have slotted in well.”
The midfield was something of a mish-mash with Tommy Miller and Jim Magilton missing out due to injury but Ian Westlake and Antonio Murray staked their claim and Martijn Reuser has not looked this sharp and determined in pre-season since he was a teenager.
Nabil Abidallah had some good moments but is probably destined to go out on loan unless a club snaps him up, as competition is so fierce in his department at Ipswich.
The main aim of the trip to Trelleborg in the Skane region in southern Sweden was fitness and they certainly achieved that with three games in six days with training and swimming in between.
What was also very evident was the relaxed manner of the squad, no doubt engendered by Jovial Joe's easy-going manner.
His relationship with the players is warm and close but there is no doubting who is the boss and he showed his ruthless streak by releasing Javier Sanchez Broto before the trip was over.
A new keeper tops his list now and that should be resolved today.
Meanwhile, the crowd at Layer Road on Saturday could be in for a treat as Royle looks to give his senior players a longer run out and is searching for goals, while Colchester United boss Phil Parkinson is exciting the U's faithful with his rebuilding.
Royle said: “It will be different prospect against Colchester. They are our nearest rivals and will be determined to do well.”
While the games at Colchester and then Boston next week will be experimental, the look of the side which will launch the promotion push starting at home to Reading will probably be pretty much revealed on the Friday night game against Levski Sofia at Portman Road.