Royle warns of Foxes danger

BLUES boss Joe Royle has warned his Ipswich team not to allow Leicester City's charge for a play-off place start at Portman Road.

By Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

Chief Football Writer

BLUES boss Joe Royle has warned his Ipswich team not to allow Leicester City's charge for a play-off place start at Portman Road.

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Although the Foxes are sitting in a lowly 15th, and are nine points from sixth-placed Preston, Royle believes Craig Levein still harbours promotion hopes.

He said: “Leicester were many people's tip as champions and they have found it hard.

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“Things did not go as they expected and they have had managerial changes, but I still think they are certainly better than their position at the moment suggests.

“I don't suppose for one minute that Craig Levein has given up on reaching the play-off places but they need to get a run going and they will probably need to do that at our place.

“They are what they are. They are a little less direct than they were at the beginning of the season and I'm sure, by the time next season starts, Levein will have his own people firmly in place.

“They are in transition but are still one of the strong sides, unbeaten in seven, are not easy to beat and certainly rival Stoke for size.

“Statistically, they don't score too many goals, so let us hope they don't start on Saturday.”

Just as Royle doesn't want Leicester going on a winning run at Town's expense, he feels a run of victories of their own is needed.

If you include the FA Cup, Town have not won two games in a row since the win at QPR was followed by victory over Wigan in December.

With a 2-0 win under their belts at Sheffield United, Town have a chance to get a winning sequence underway, although City will be difficult, followed by a hard trip to Preston.

Royle said: “It is important we stay focused on this game and not look too far ahead.

“But we also we need to put a good run of wins together now. We are virtually two wins in front and if we can get another few under our belt, then we can start looking ahead to the end of the season. But at the moment we are just focused on Leicester.”

A smart finish from Ian Westlake gave Town an early lead at the Walkers Stadium in October but Matt Heath went from hero to villain for the Foxes when he netted at both ends, with his own goal giving Town a late equaliser.

Shekfi Kuqi had what looked a perfectly good goal ruled out moments earlier and Town went home with a point.

Royle said: “They were seconds away from beating us at their place but I felt that would have been harsh.

“In the end, we were disappointed that we didn't win it but I still think Leicester and Nottingham Forest are better than where they are now.”

Two former Town players could be left disappointed this weekend, with Chris Makin a doubt to even travel through illness and poor recent form, while James Scowcroft admits he is likely to be dropped to the bench.

Royle was not prepared to say much about either old boy, although it is no secret he tried to sign Scowcroft on loan recently.

He said: “I was disappointed with Chris when he left and in the fashion he did.

“As for James, I'm just thinking of Saturday. We can't start talking about players we are interested in until we know what division we are going to be in.”

Royle confirmed Darren Bent and Kuqi will lead the attack once more, after being battered about at Sheffield.

He added: “Both trained yesterday and are fine. Benty was still a bit sore but he is young and will be okay by Saturday.”

The same 16 that were involved at Sheffield have been named again, as on-loan Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan can't be considered due to a toe injury flaring up again, and he has been told to rest for a fortnight.

Defender Drissa Diallo trained with the first team and is expected to be fit to play in the reserves on Monday against Leicester, after a hamstring injury.

Ipswich Town squad: Davis, Wilnis, Unsworth, De Vos, Naylor, Miller, Magilton, Westlake, Currie, Bent, Kuqi, Bowditch, Horlock, Karbassiyoon, Richards and Price.

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