Royle - we must tighten up
JOE Royle has conceded the only way Ipswich Town are going to reach the play-offs is to stop leaking goals, writes Derek Davis.The Blues have allowed 45 league goals past them this season and would be ahead of seventh-placed Norwich if is was not for their appalling goals-against tally.
JOE Royle has conceded the only way Ipswich Town are going to reach the play-offs is to stop leaking goals, writes Derek Davis.
The Blues have allowed 45 league goals past them this season and would be ahead of seventh-placed Norwich if is was not for their appalling goals-against tally.
With 12 games to go and seven points behind Wolves, who currently occupy the final play-off place, Ipswich must put a winning run together, and a string of clean sheets.
If they were to snatch a top-six spot, the Blues are bound to become favourites for promotion, given their form and experience.
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Every one of the top six managers has said good things about the Blues at one time or other but probably the last team they would like to see in the play-off party is Ipswich.
Royle said: "It is good to hear them say nice things about us but it will count for nothing if we don't get in the top six.
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"I'm not huge on statistics but I'm well aware that we have the worst defensive record of the clubs in the top eight.
"We need our goals-against tally down, because I know we can always score a goal. It is not just the back three or four as well, we need to defend better as a team."
Ipswich welcome back Hermann Hreidarsson tomorrow against Stoke City after serving a four-match ban and Royle is hoping John McGreal will figure again after recovering from a pulled back muscle.
Royle said: "Getting Hermann back will be a big plus and hopefully we can have John back soon. It is imperative to have these experienced players fit and available for the run-in.
"We are approaching the last lap now and we need all the players we can muster."
The Blues boss had a special word for unsung hero Matt Richards who has stepped in at left wing-back with outstanding results.
Royle added: "Matt has done a great job. With young Dean Bowditch coming on at Norwich all the attention was deflected away from Matt but I thought he had a terrific 90 minutes, as I knew he would.
"He played well again at Wolves and I'm absolutely delighted with him."
Pablo Counago misses the visit of Stoke tomorrow as he sits out the last of his four-match ban but will be available for the trip to Crystal Palace. Marcus Bent trained yesterday morning and is looking a good bet to start against the Potters. Not for the first time this season he can expect stick from the visiting fans, even though he didn't exactly have a great time at their close rivals Port Vale.
Meanwhile, Tony Pulis' City have clawed their way out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win over Brighton on Wednesday. Chris Greenacre's goal gave them their second home win in three.
But they are not so hot on the road. The last, and only, time they have won away was, coincidentally, against Brighton back in September. Their next game was against Ipswich and they beat George Burley's side 2-1. But the winning sequence didn't last and City then went on a run of 16 games and three months without a win.
Pulis and the Stoke squad, who arrived in Suffolk last night, welcomed the three points on Wednesday and he added: "Two wins out of our last three league games has given us a boost going into a damned difficult game at Ipswich."
City have injury doubts over Wayne Thomas and Peter Hoekstra who limped out in midweek, but youngsters Lewis Neal and on-loan Frazer Richardson from Leeds United proved capable replacements. Pulis have been in talks to try to secure Ade Akinbyi on loan but his personal terms are proving a stumbling block.