Santos will return to Town team

GEORGES Santos will return to the Ipswich Town line-up this weekend, for the trip to Millwall, despite missing Saturday's triumph over Derby County.Centre-half Santos is available again after serving a one-match suspension, and manager Joe Royle has no hesitation in recalling the talented Frenchman.

GEORGES Santos will return to the Ipswich Town line-up this weekend, for the trip to Millwall, despite missing Saturday's triumph over Derby County.

Centre-half Santos is available again after serving a one-match suspension, and manager Joe Royle has no hesitation in recalling the talented Frenchman.

Royle has a number of "pleasant" choices to make, in terms of team selection, for the visit to the Den.

His side are going great guns, following a run of just two defeats in 16 league games, and the squad is looking stronger with every week that passes.


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It's never easy to change a winning team, but there are several squad players pushing for a start after the recent 2-1 win over George Burley's Derby.

Striker Pablo Counago and midfielder Alan Mahon are desperate to return to the starting line-up, while right-back Fabian Wilnis is hopeful of being fit after missing the Derby match with a tight hamstring.

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"They're not really selection problems, just pleasant choices," insisted Royle last night.

"Georges (Santos) was suspended for the Derby game, but he's available again and he will return.

"Georges has been excellent for us this season.

"A few eyebrows were raised when he played in midfield earlier in the year, but it was always our long-term intention to play him in defence," added Royle.

Last week, despite his absence from the Derby game due to an accumulation of five yellow cards, was a successful week for 33-year-old Santos.

He scored his first goal for Town in the 3-2 win at Cardiff City, and was a rock at the back during the midweek 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.

In recognition of these two performances, Santos has been named in the Nationwide League First Division Team of the Week.

John McGreal made his first senior appearance since February, as a replacement for Santos on Saturday.

The ex-Tranmere stalwart enjoyed a sound afternoon at the back, especially as his central defensive partner Richard Naylor hobbled off with a hamstring problem after just 22 minutes.

Royle continued: "John Mac (McGreal) staked his claim. It was a big play. He basically said – 'Here I am.'

"Richard (Naylor) has not strained his hamstring. He suffered a few spasms, but it has felt easier today.

"He is a doubt for the Millwall match. If he trains this week, it won't be until Thursday. But he isn't ruled out.

"Likewise, Fabian Wilnis is expected to return to training on Thursday. He didn't play against Derby, but he was close."

Ipswich moved up to third in the table, just two points behind Norwich City and three adrift of leaders West Brom, following a seventh win from their last eight home games.

Royle watched Town Reserves play at Tottenham's second string last night.

But he resisted the temptation to give Counago a run-out. The Spaniard has not featured for the first team during the last month, due to a strained hamstring, although he was an unused substitute against Derby.

"Pablo (Counago) has only missed a couple of weeks' training, and sometimes you have to judge the benefits of a player turning out for the reserves," said Royle.

"Pablo is going to play a lot of games this season, so he didn't need this reserve game.

"It's been a tremendous last eight days for the whole club.

"We've picked up seven points from a possible nine, we beat Leeds United in the FA Youth Cup and the Academy side also won at Norwich," added Royle.

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