Supple determined to make most of chance

SHANE Supple has won his battle with Lewis Price to retain Ipswich Town's top goalkeeping spot and is determined not to throw the No.1 shirt away.

By Derek Davis

SHANE Supple has won his battle with Lewis Price to retain Ipswich Town's top goalkeeping spot and is determined not to throw the No.1 shirt away.

After sharing the duties equally with Price throughout pre-season, Supple has been told by manager Jim Magilton he is his No.1 glove-man.

Supple will play in tonight's friendly against Lazio and will start between the sticks next week when Ipswich kick off the new season at home to Crystal Palace.

But the 19-year-old Irishman is fully aware that any dip in form could cost him his place, with Price breathing hard down his neck

Supple said: “The manager has told me I'm his No.1. He has given me the shirt so it is mine to throw away and I don't intend to do that. It is added pressure but I don't mind that at all.

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“I don't want to take this for granted, you can't afford to do that in football. I know that if I put in a couple of bad performances then that is me out of the team.

“The manager called me in and told me there was not much in it but he was going to go with me and told me what he expects of me and I intend to take the chance.”

“A couple of years back I was making plans about where I wanted to be at a certain age and I have achieved this earlier than I expected.”

Academy graduate Supple, who won an FA Youth Cup-winners medal last year, made his Blues first team debut last season when he went on as a half-time substitute for the injured Price, who started last season as the first choice keeper, and went on to make 23 Town appearances.

Supple's boyish looks and deceptive frame have attracted some initial derogatory comments from observers but it doesn't take long for their opinion to be more positive after watching him perform. It is something the former Gaelic footballer, who is taller than six foot, takes in his unruffled stride.

He said: “It doesn't bother me at all. In a few years I will probably be grateful for having a baby-face.”

Supple is looking to emulate some big name keepers, including Matteo Sereni, who is the reason why Town are fixed up with Lazio, who agreed the friendly as part of the deal that took the Italian keeper back home.

Sereni spent much of last season on loan at Treviso, after losing his place to Italian World Cup-winning squad keeper Angelo Peruzzi.

The Blues' record signing at £5m from Sampdoria, is not in the squad to play tonight at Portman Road.

Supple's arrival coincided with Sereni's departure to Lazio, after a loan spell with Brescia. He said: “Matteo was here when I first came over and I trained with him for a couple of days but then he moved.”

Supple assured Town fans, and his defence, that he would not be copying the Italian goalkeepers propensity to punch clear at every opportunity

He said: “I'm not sure why they do it but it seems that is the way they have been brought up. I would rather catch the ball than punch it any day. My defenders know I will come to catch it and I hope that gives them confidence too.”

Supple has excelled off the pitch too after picking up a top student of the year award at Otley College where he is studying a BTEC in sports.

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