Town ready to face quality opposition
IPSWICH Town go into tomorrow's friendly against top Greek side Panathinaikos at Portman Road with manager Jim Magilton insisting: “Our work begins in earnest on Monday.
By Elvin King
IPSWICH Town go into tomorrow's friendly against top Greek side Panathinaikos at Portman Road with manager Jim Magilton insisting: “Our work begins in earnest on Monday.”
The Blues begin their Coca-Cola Championship campaign with a home match against Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday with Magilton having set his stall on getting off to a flying start.
“I am optimistic about our prospects,” said Magilton. “But I was this time last year as well.
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“And then we went on to lose our first three matches, and were playing catch-up for the rest of the season.
“I am looking forward to the challenge, and Sunday's match will be a big test for us against quality opposition.
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“Then on Monday our preparation for the new season begins in earnest to get us spot on for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday.”
After carrying the support of Town supporters through his first 'honeymoon' season, Magilton's managerial abilities will be put to the test more this term.
He will be expected to lift the club up considerably higher than the 14th place Town finished in 2006/07.
And - on paper at any rate - the genial Irishman looks to have strengthened his squad with the free signings of keeper Neil Alexander, midfielder Tommy Miller and striker Pablo Counago.
Magilton, who is set to name his team from the 17 - plus Legwinski - who travelled to Belgium for the 1-1 draw at Royal Antwerp last Tuesday, added: “I think we are benefiting from returning early for pre-season and our injury prevention has been spot on.
“Panathinaikos are regular Champions League participants and generally battle away for the Greek championship.
“They will be tough opponents and it will give me a chance to look at the way I want to start the league season.
“You never know whether you are ready for league action until the big kick-off takes place. But I expect us to be ready.”
Regular striker Jon Walters sees no problem playing on the right side of midfield where he has been used in pre-season by Magilton, and where he is expected to start tomorrow.
“I was taught how to play during my younger days at Blackburn,” said Walters. “It was a great education and knowing how to defend was in the programme.
“David Wright at right back and Tommy Miller on my side of midfield have been a great help, and I am sure with Alan Lee and Pablo Counago up front we have plenty of goals in us.”
Town fans will have their first chance to see new signing Alexander, while Miller and Counago will make their returns to Portman Road.
Likely Town team: Alexander; Wright, De Vos, Bruce, Harding; Walters, Miller, Garvan, Williams; Lee, Counago. Subs: Supple, Wilnis, Roberts, O'Callaghan, Haynes, Clarke, Legwinski.