Santos gets two-year deal with Town

GEORGES Santos has been handed a two-year contract by Blues boss Joe Royle after an impressive pre-season with Ipswich Town.

GEORGES Santos has been handed a two-year contract by Blues boss Joe Royle after an impressive pre-season with Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

The Frenchman was initially signed on a three-month deal to prevent a French club sneaking in for him and to thwart Grimsby Town's renewed effort to keep him.

The departure of Thomas Gaardsoe to West Bromwich Albion which was completed yesterday afternoon, has allowed Royle to make the improved offer in securing the midfield linchpin.

"I have been delighted with Georges and Drissa Diallo since they arrived. And now with Kelvin Davis we have really tightened up in defence which we needed to do.

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"We took Georges originally for three months because we knew there was a French club interested in him and the board backed me but we could not give him anything longer until another player had gone."

The 32-year-old has looked solid in a midfield holding role for an improved looking Town defence and Royle brushes aside questions of his age.

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He said: "He and Drissa are extremely fit lads. They have really looked after themselves and have a couple of very good years left in them yet.

"Also with Kelvin Davis we have someone who is top of the tree in this division and he is only 26.

"The proof will be in the pudding starting against Levski but more importantly when the league starts."

Davis, taken for nothing from Wimbledon despite Premiership interest, has been handed the No. 1 shirt after the club formally changed the squad number list with the Football League.

It was significant that Andy Marshall did not have a number on the shirt he wore against Boston United on Thursday.

Davis will be one of three new faces in the Town line-up tonight as they take on the 'Manchester United of Bulgaria' at Portman Road in their final pre-season of the summer.

Royle said: "It will be a hard game. I commentated on Bulgaria beating England a couple of years ago and they have very good players. They are not the most glamorous of countries but this will not be an easy game."

The Blues side lining up tonight will be very close to the one Royle hopes to pick against Reading next week when the action starts for real.

Chris Makin is the only doubt with a hamstring but Matt Richards is ready to step in if the sturdy defender doesn't make it.

Royle said: "I'm looking to see a team now from Ipswich. Our fitness is there now and in terms of winning we have had a great pre-season so we have to carry that on now.

"The new boys have been excellent and now the goalkeeper arriving for no outlay is fantastic."

Tickets will be on sale at the turnstiles tonight with a crowd of around 10,000 estimated.

Ipswich Town: Davis, Wilnis, Richards, Santos, Naylor, Diallo, Magilton, Miller, Counago, M Bent, D Bent, Makin, Price, Reuser, Wright, Westlake, Bowditch, Collins.

Referee: Keith Hill (Herts)

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