Royle warns fans to expect drama

“THIS is going all the way to the wire.”Blues boss Joe Royle last night praised Ipswich fans but warned they were in for a nail-biting six weeks, writes Derek Davis.

“THIS is going all the way to the wire.”

Blues boss Joe Royle last night praised Ipswich fans but warned they were in for a nail-biting six weeks, writes Derek Davis.

Although Town are in ninth place they are just three points from third-placed Sunderland and a play-off place is still very much in their own hands.

Royle was last night still recovering from the disappointment of losing to a late West Brom goal on Sunday, but is ready to bounce back.

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He said: “We will get over this and look at the positives from the game.

“We played very well and scored two goals and had one disallowed against the meanest defence in the league.

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“The crowd were terrific, in fact they had probably their best game of the season, and the players responded to them just as they responded to the team.

“We have three home games in the regular season to go and will need the crowd for every one of them.”

One of those games is against third-placed Sunderland next Monday, and Town still have play-off rivals Sheffield United to visit.

The Blades face Sunderland on Friday as every one is looking to take points off each other.

Royle warned: “This is going right down to the last game of the season. It is that tight that even when Cardiff come here in May they could still be in with a chance. We certainly will be.

“Every game is crucial now and we probably need to win at least four of them.

“It won't be easy, Sheffield United and Sunderland are up there. Gillingham and Forest are fighting for their lives and even though Rotherham are probably safe we know what can happen at their place.

“Everyone will be fighting right to the bitter end - we have to, the prize is so great.”

Town lost at Millmoor at a similar stage of the season last year when they gave up a goal lead with just 10 minutes to go and lost.

Town are sweating on the fitness of key midfielders Ian Westlake and Jim Magilton for the trip to south Yorkshire.

Westlake has a knee and calf problem after tangling with James Chambers, while skipper Magilton is struggling with a tight hamstring.

Royle said: “I'm hoping both will be okay but at the moment Jim is probably the most doubtful.”

Rotherham are tonight entertaining Crystal Palace while Wigan are at Gillingham and Sunderland take on Wimbledon at Milton Keynes, with Stuart Murdoch's men looking to avoid the drop.

The play-off battle intensifies tomorrow when Millwall entertain Cardiff.

Royle last night confirmed Matt Elliott will extend his loan spell beyond the initial month and will be staying until the play-off battle is over, as the EADT reported 10 days ago.

Young Blues striker Sam Morrow is to have a trial with Stockport County next week, while Erkan Okay has joined Aylesbury United.

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