Soup and sarnies the key for Royle

SOUP and sandwiches may be the secret to Ipswich Town's outstanding away form of late – although it could also be as much to do with desire and hard work.

SOUP and sandwiches may be the secret to Ipswich Town's outstanding away form of late – although it could also be as much to do with desire and hard work, writes Derek Davis.

Administration has forced cut-backs in many areas and one is a more substantial dinner when arriving at the team hotel for away trips. But it has also meant later set off times and subsequently more time for players with family and friends before big games – something boss Joe Royle believes should not be underestimated. He also keeps the travelling numbers down as low as possible with the bare 16 making the trip to south Yorkshire last night.

He said: "I have never been a believer in taking too many away as they may as well be at home than sitting around knowing they are not playing.

"We have been setting off for the hotel later recently which means soup and sandwiches on arrival, and then bed. It seems to have worked well enough. It allows the players more time at home and that is vital to them.

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"At this stage of the season winning is as much about the head as the legs. They are fit enough, in fact too much running at this stage of season is pointless as you are doing it with tired legs."

Town have not lost away since February 1, a shock defeat by Bradford City, and they have gone on to record four wins and two draws, although they have had to come from behind four times.

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Royle also believes Town have a huge psychological boost within their sights with 76 points attainable for the Blues.

No team which has reached 76 points since the Division One play-offs started has failed to make the play-offs and many have gone on to promotion. Birmingham did it last season, Swindon finished sixth in 1993 with 76 points and went up while Crystal Palace and Leicester have gone up with fewer.

Royle said: "This is still very much in our own hands. We know that 76 points will be enough and quite simply if we win all our games we finish with 76 points. People worry about Wolves winning on Saturday but I'm not. I keep saying it is down to us. Teams will drop points and when they do we have to be in the position to take advantage."

There is widespread belief that if Town make the top six, their momentum will take them to the final and subsequently promotion. It would be another huge psychological blow to their rivals if they got in at this late stage.

When Royle took over last October, Ipswich were fourth bottom. The resurrection will be complete tonight if Town win and Forest lose at home to Burnley.

And if Norwich beat Wolves, it gives Town another team to overhaul as well.

One of the reasons for Town's resurgence has been the return to fitness and form of Martijn Reuser whose work ethic seems to have been transformed under Royle and coaches Willie Donachie and Tony Mowbray.

Royle said: "It is down to pure hard work on the player's part. I don't think he and Marcus Bent have ever worked so hard before and that is because they realise that team success is down to an ethic of hard work by everyone and they have done that. They have superior skills but these are no good without application. You see it at Manchester United and Arsenal, they have superior players but they also work extremely hard for the team."

After a superior performance against Portsmouth in front of more than 29,000 supporters, Ipswich now go to the more basic stadia at Millmoor in front of a maximum 11,500. It may be more soup and sandwiches than Portman Road but Town know all the hard work they put in against Portsmouth will be a waste of time if they do not repeat the performance and result against gritty Rotherham.

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