Skard may get first-team debut

BLUES boss Joe Royle is considering unleashing Ipswich's own version of Robbie Savage against Crewe - the club that gave the controversial midfielder his first start.

By Derek Davis

BLUES boss Joe Royle is considering unleashing Ipswich's own version of Robbie Savage against Crewe - the club that gave the controversial midfielder his first start.

Vemund Brekke-Skard, the Norseman carved from granite, is included in the 16-man squad for the Championship clash and, while not expected to start, could make his debut from the bench.

Royle is confident that Skard is ready for first-team action after a couple of reserve team outings since recovering from a hernia operation.

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Royle said: “Vemund has shown up very well in training. He is rock hard and can tackle. The players go in on him and bounce. He can also handle a ball well. We would not bring someone here if all he could do were run.

“Vemund has trained with the first team squad and is very comfortable among them.

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“He is a workaholic who can get around and pass the ball. Probably more Robbie Savage than Glenn Hoddle. But look at how many caps Robbie has and you can see there is nothing wrong in that.

“We will probably not see the best of him until next season when he starts on an equal footing with everyone else with pre-season.”

Skard will be making his first visit to Gresty Road, where Town have enjoyed mixed fortunes over the years with two wins, two draws and two defeats in the six league games they have played there.

Although Crewe are currently bottom of the table, they have been showing signs of improvement and Royle is wary of Dario Gradi's side.

He said: “Crewe will be awkward - not in the way Burnley were, but will be harder than their league position suggests.

“They should have beaten us here. They were good, and we were poor, and they could have been out of sight first half but we came back to beat them.

“Crewe may be bottom but they wrecked a few coupons on Saturday with the draw against Wolves and they put three past Reading last week.

“They have not given up and it is never an easy game for us up there. I have a lot of respect for Crewe and what they do there.

“They will pass the ball, as we will, and it will be a good football match. We are confident and won't be going there on the back foot.”

With Owen Garvan suspended, Gavin Williams still out injured and Kevin Horlock now on loan at Doncaster Rovers, skipper Jim Magilton is likely to reclaim his place in midfield.

That would leave Dean McDonald and Jaime Peters on the bench along with Skard, while Sito Castro is likely to be disappointed once more.

Another option for Royle is to use Richard Naylor in attack alongside Alan Lee, as he did in the second half against Burnley, with Fabian Wilnis in at centre-back and Sito at right- back.

Another consideration could be if Jason De Vos' groin problem worsens, while Lee suffered a tight hamstring after scoring in the 2-1 win on Saturday, although both are expected to be passed fit this morning at their Cheshire hotel.

SCOTT Mitchell has been told he will not be offered a new contract in the summer and has been told he can find another club now.

AIDAN Collins may end his loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers this week.

After Saturday's 2-2 draw with Mansfield, manager John Gorman started a spell of compassionate leave to look after his sick wife Myra.

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