Town look for better start
WAKEY, wakey.While many venues will be holding their Guy Fawkes parties over the weekend, the Blues coaching staff will be putting firecrackers under the players (metaphorically speaking) in a bid to snap them out of their early game malaise, writes Derek Davis.
While many venues will be holding their Guy Fawkes parties over the weekend, the Blues coaching staff will be putting firecrackers under the players (metaphorically speaking) in a bid to snap them out of their early game malaise, writes Derek Davis.
Dozy Town have been constantly caught napping at the opening periods of games, highlighted at Crystal Palace where they went two down in 11 minutes, and were struggling before going a goal behind at Preston after 21 minutes last Saturday.
They showed tremendous character and quality to come back each time but getting off to a good start would make a pleasant change.
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So Joe Royle and his staff have been looking at ways of ensuring the team come out firing at Portman Road, against Gillingham tomorrow.
Royle said: “We need to start brighter. We have been working on one or two things to make us start a bit better in games.
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“If I have been using the 'excuse' that we have been travelling too much then we have no such excuse on Saturday.
“We have one or two drills which should help us get in the game. We do have one or two who are slow starters so we are working on them too.”
While the starting XI will be the same as the teams which salvaged points at Selhurst Park and Deepdale, Town will make one change on the bench. With Alun Armstrong ruled out with a bruised calf, Royle is looking to introduce someone else to the bench - with John McGreal high in his thoughts.
McGreal admitted he was reluctant to push back into the first team after such a lengthy lay-off but two reserve team games, including a goal against Watford on Wednesday, have pushed him back into the reckoning, especially with Richard Naylor suspended next week.
Royle admitted: “There is a possibility John could be a substitute but I will look at it.”
The thinness of Town's squad was transparent on Wednesday with all five of the substitutes still at school, and Kieran Leabon made his debut just weeks after turning 15.
Royle has each position covered on the bench in Gerard Nash, Tommy Miller, Dean Bowditch and Lewis Price, so he can take a chance.
He said: “We will see who we have got that is not in a nappy. I spoke about West Brom being the Land of Giants but our reserve team on Wednesday ended up being the Land of Midgets.
“We had three lads under 5'5''. The reserves did well, but this is a different level. This is against hardened men and Gillingham are always a strong, physical side to play against.
“They are in the mould of Andy Hessenthaler, so they are no soft touch.”
The Blues boss has been delighted with the way the whole squad have shown a renewed confidence and continuity, even when they have lost players through injury.
He said: “A few weeks ago the thought of Drissa Diallo going out of the side, and then Alan Mahon, might have worried us but the confidence we have now takes us on and we have good continuity.”
Town will be looking to start November as they performed in October with five wins and a draw.
Royle said: “It would be good to show our home support that we are playing really well. Our second half performances at Preston and Crystal Palace were outstanding.”