Scowcroft set for the axe

WHILE James Scowcroft is coy about the possibility of returning to Ipswich Town in the summer, he is convinced they will be a Premiership club again by then.

By Derek Davis

WHILE James Scowcroft is coy about the possibility of returning to Ipswich Town in the summer, he is convinced they will be a Premiership club again by then.

Scowcroft will make a brief revisit to Portman Road on Saturday when Leicester City take on the Championship leaders, although the former Town Player of the Year is expecting to be dropped to the bench.

The former England Under-21 international, who joined City in a £3m move from Ipswich in the summer of 2001, has also revealed how the former Foxes boss Mickey Adams turned down the Ipswich Town job.


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Scowcroft has also conceded that, as a True Blue, he would not have felt comfortable about signing for the old enemy Norwich City, who made a bid for him.

In a frank interview, ahead of the crucial Championship clash, the Foxes forward last night told the EADT how he was sure his old club were on their way back to the top flight.

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Scowcroft said: “It would take a catastrophe for them not to go up now, and as champions.

“They need to win about six or seven more games from the 15 left, that will take them towards 85 points, and that is usually enough for promotion.

“I'm not just saying that because I used to play for them. They are the best team in the league.

“The signing of David Unsworth will give them that extra edge defensively and I just can't see them dropping too many more points.”

The 29-year-old still has a home near Bury St Edmunds and has never made any secret of his passion for the Blues.

He was reluctant to leave Town in the first place and his sale is seen by many as a factor in Town's subsequent slump.

The EADT revealed how Blues boss Joe Royle tried to bring the flexible front man back to Portman Road last year but was thwarted more than once.

Royle had tried to sign Scowcroft when he was at Manchester City and lost out when he tried to get him on loan at Ipswich, turned down by Micky Adams more than once, and then by Craig Levein.

The reunion could well finally take place before the start of next season, with Scowcroft out of contract at the Walkers Stadium at the end of June, although the player is reluctant to count any chickens.

“It would not be right to talk about that, as I'm contracted to Leicester City. That runs out in the summer and I don't know if I'm going to be offered a new one or not yet. I'm not going to worry about it, as everything will sort itself out in time.”

The former Town ace has revealed he was not prepared to sign for East Anglian rivals Norwich City, who tried to sign him in a £3m deal last summer.

Scowcroft said: “It was never really an issue, as Micky Adams wouldn't sell me and, at the time, the squad looked really strong and I didn't want to go anywhere.

“Given my Ipswich roots, I would have felt awkward about signing for Norwich anyway.”

Adams is a manager Scowcroft was close too, and he is glad to see him back in work at Coventry City, although he once came close to being in the Town hot seat.

Scowcroft said: “Micky told me he turned the Ipswich job down. He was with Leicester at the time and felt then he was better off staying where he was.”

With new manager Levein building his own team, Scowcroft accepts he may lose out, starting on Saturday, with the former Hearts boss keen to use one of his own new signings, Mark de Vries, who has impressed when going on as a substitute.

Scowcroft admitted: “Mark has done very well and is due a start. That could well happen this weekend.

“It would be a disappointment for me to miss out at Portman Road but I would just have to accept it and get on with things.”

After getting into the Premiership with both Ipswich and Leicester, Scowcroft was confident he could make it a hat-trick this season, with the Foxes bouncing straight back after relegation.

He said: “I have been promoted a couple of times before and have an idea of what it takes.

“The squad we had at Leicester in the summer was as strong as any I have played in, and we were favourites to go up. But, for one reason or another, it didn't work out and it is no coincidence that the three teams that came down, us, Leeds and Wolves, have all struggled this season.

“If I'm honest, we would have to go something to get in the play-offs. We have been a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde side. At Crewe, for example, we were poor.

“But we have a big cup game coming up against Charlton, and we are the sort of team to do well in that game.”

The last time Scowcroft played at Portman Road, at the beginning of the 2002-2003 season, he was on the wrong end of a 6-1 hiding, with Pablo Counago and Matt Holland scoring twice each and Darren Ambrose and Finidi George also scoring against a luckless Leicester.

Scowcroft recalls: “Although we lost players to injury early on, Ipswich were a better team on the night. But things changed after that game, and we went one way while Ipswich went the other.”

The Foxes won promotion while Town lost their manager George Burley, spiralled down the table and went into administration.

A season earlier, City, with Scowcroft, went down 2-0 as Marcus Bent and Sixto Peralta found the net in a rare Premiership win that year.

Those days are reminder that you never know what is around the corner in footbal, but a Scowcroft return to Portman Road is bound to be heralded by the Blues supporters on Saturday - and an even louder cheer next August.

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