Striker Lee's fitness boost for Ipswich

ALAN Lee is confident he will be fit to play against Millwall tomorrow after coming through a full training session with no reaction to his hamstring injury.

By Derek Davis

ALAN Lee is confident he will be fit to play against Millwall tomorrow after coming through a full training session with no reaction to his hamstring injury.

Although no decision will be made on the striker until the morning of the match, Lee is happy with his progress.

He last night said: “Training felt fine. I have been sprinting and working all week and nothing has stopped me. I felt a bit rusty but that is to be expected but it feel good and I'm confident I will be available to play on Saturday.”

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With Ricardo Fuller suspended for the visit of Millwall, Ipswich Town manager Royle is hoping Lee will be fit, with Danny Haynes likely to partner him, but Royle will not commit to selecting his starting line-up until tomorrow morning.

He said: “With hamstrings it is not so much how it feels in training but the reaction. We will know more later but probably wait until Saturday before fully deciding.”

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Although Town still have a ward full of strikers on the sideline, Royle is now making a new centre-half his priority for the summer.

That won't include 18-year-old Poland defender Pawel Krol, who has been training with the Blues this week but has not pushed himself ahead of the current crop of Town youngsters.

Royle said: “We won't be taking things any further with him. He was in the country and we had a look at him, as it didn't cost us.

“He has talent but the question was whether he was better at 18 than our other young centre-backs and we have just shown faith in Chris Casement by giving him a two-year contract.

“Centre-half is still the position we are looking at most for next season. That is our scouting hot spot.”

Jason De Vos confirmed last month that he was ready to sign a new deal and end his career at Portman Road, while the club's longest-serving player Richard Naylor penned a new long-term deal last summer. Naylor, who spent a short loan spell at Millwall, told the EADT last weekend he felt his best was yet to come as a defender.

Royle also has Fabian Wilnis as cover and is considering making Jay McEveley's loan move a permanent stay once he recovers fully from injury.

McEveley is pencilled in to play in a reserve match next week and could still make a first-team appearance before the end of the season, which he feels would be a bonus.

Royle said: “Jay McEveley has immense promise. He has the equipment with his left foot and power to be quite a player. He can play centre-back and left-back and he is someone we know but it is too early to talk about next season.”

While Royle ponders his limited striker options, Millwall boss David Tuttle has a choice of either Carl Asaba or Marvin Williams to play alongside Ben May. Red-hot Dutch striker Berry Powel is also vying for a place, while Barry Hayles is back in training after injury and Kevin Braniff is looking to keep his place in the squad.

Andy Marshall will be making another return to Portman Road since leaving for Millwall and will be looking to keep a clean sheet.

Marshall was on the winning Millwall side two years ago, almost to the day, when they won 3-1 and was in goal for the Lions when they again won 3-1 on Boxing Day 2004 at the New Den. He was on the bench in September 2004 when Graham Stack conceded two goals but was on the losing starting line-up when Town won 2-1 at the Den last August with Naylor dismissed.

Royle has no doubt that the Lions will be a stubborn proposition. They have recently enjoyed a £400,000 cash injection from their directors and brought back Ray Wilkins as coach, along with Colin Cameron on loan from Wolves.

Royle said: “This is a tough game against Millwall, who are fighting for their lives. They still have a great chance of getting out of the bottom three. They do produce their own kids to come through, and I don't know whether it is their attitude of everyone is against us and being in adversity, but Millwall do a lot right there.

“If we carry on playing as we have and we get the goals we can, then we can make it easy for ourselves but they won't make it easy for us.

“We have momentum. Even earlier in the season when we lost against Crystal Palace and Hull City I could see improvement and we have been making good progress since.”

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