Santos facing fitness battle

GEORGES Santos and Jim Magilton will be given as long as possible to prove their fitness ahead of this evening's game against Stoke City, writes Derek Davis.

GEORGES Santos and Jim Magilton will be given as long as possible to prove their fitness ahead of this evening's game against Stoke City, writes Derek Davis.

Magilton is struggling with calf and shin bruising following a tussle with Burnley's Mo Camara on Tuesday but is confident he will be fit.

Santos has been struggling with a groin strain for a couple of weeks and knows only much needed rest is the answer.

The Frenchman has not been able to train and spends all his time with a physio in between games.


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He said: "It was extremely painful against Bradford and earlier in the week it got worse but after good treatment I was okay on Tuesday morning so I was able to play.

"I have not been able to train but the Gaffer has said that it is alright to play games. I won't need an operation. Ideally it needs rest but we are playing twice a week at the moment so that is not possible."

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The former Tranmere, West Brom, Sheffield United and Grimsby defender would hate to lose his place but won't play if he can't do himself or the team justice, especially with players ready to step in.

He said: "We are doing well so I can't see me stopping. It may be better to miss one game rather than four later.

"Every player wants to play every week but I will not take a big risk especially when we have players like Gerard Nash and perhaps soon Drissa (Diallo) and Johnny McGreal."

Young Irishman Nash made his first-team debut on Tuesday when he replaced Santos for the last 15 minutes against Burnley and reminded the Marseilles-born defender of his own debut when he played in a nil-nil draw against Rennes in September 1988.

He said: "Gerard did really well when he came on and the team had made it easier by being five goals up when he went on.

"He was obviously nervous, I can still remember my debut and how I felt, but he has played well in pre-season and in training. He is a good defender and has a great future ahead."

Darren Bent has failed to recover from a knee injury so Town go with the same 16 as the squad which beat Burnley 6-1.

The Potters are the last team to keep a clean sheet at Portman Road in the league, although Kidderminster Harriers shut out Town for 90 minutes in the Carling Cup in August.

Santos believes they will be difficult to break down again and appreciates Carl Asaba and Gifton Noel-Williams will be difficult to handle.

He said: "Stoke are a big side although I know they like to try and play football.

"As we keep saying in this division everyone can beat everyone. We need to be completely focused. We got sloppy in the second half against Burnley until they scored. We have to play as we did in the first half on Tuesday for the whole 90 minutes."

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