Town's fortunes on the up?

By Mel HendersonIPSWICH boss Joe Royle is hoping the decision to rescind the red card issued to Spanish defender Sito Castro in the East Anglian derby will signal an upturn in fortune for his team.

By Mel Henderson

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle is hoping the decision to rescind the red card issued to Spanish defender Sito Castro in the East Anglian derby will signal an upturn in fortune for his team.

Having viewed a video replay of Sunday's alleged clash with Norwich striker Kevin Lisbie, a Football Association disciplinary appeals panel yesterday decided that match referee Lee Mason had got it wrong.

Royle said: “It would be nice if this good news proved to be the catalyst for a change in our fortunes. I don't think we've had much luck so far this season.

“We've had three red cards, two of which were immensely questionable, and a bad run of injuries to some of our most experienced players.”

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Had Town's appeal been rejected, Sito would have faced a two-game ban, but yesterday's about-turn means he will be available for Saturday's trip to face seventh-placed Leeds.

Royle added: “I am delighted with the decision. We felt we had a strong case because the more we looked at the video, the more it became obvious that there was only minimal, if any, contact.

“I am particularly pleased for Sito - the poor little fellow was distraught and wondering what it was all about on Sunday.

“We can't ask for a replay but it's good that the panel saw fit to rescind the red card. I thank them for their honesty because it's hard to go against a referee's decision and it is big of them.”

Town received a further boost yesterday when experienced defender Fabian Wilnis trained and put himself firmly in contention for the game at Elland Road.

It was feared, when he limped off with a groin injury during the 2-2 home draw with Southampton eight days ago, that the 35-year-old Dutchman would be sidelined for three weeks.

But a subsequent X-ray confirmed the problem was not as bad as had been feared and Royle could find himself in the reasonably rare position of having more than four fit players from which to select his defensive line-up on Saturday.

There could also be another striker in contention, with Royle explaining that a deal to bring an experienced attacking player to Portman Road on loan was far from dead.

He said: “I was hoping that I would get a call to confirm the move was on but it didn't happen, although it could well materialise in the morning. It is very much ongoing.”

Royle has identified a striker to partner Sam Parkin in the search for goals, his team having suffered three blanks in a four-game spell that has seen them capture just one point from a possible 12.

Despite those rather depressing statistics, the Town boss was far from downbeat as he looked ahead to the next stage of the season.

He was encouraged by the performances against Southampton and Norwich, two of the three teams relegated from the Premiership last term.

“After the last two games,” he said, “I believe we are very close to being a decent unit in this division.”

Town's prospects will be all the brighter for the return to fitness of striker Nicky Forster, who is pencilled in for the reserve fixture at Crystal Palace on October 5.

The ex-Reading player, forced to undergo a cartilage operation after featuring in the first three games of the season, is well on the road to recovery.

But Royle stressed: “Nicky is looking good and will be back as quickly as possible on one condition - that there is no risk involved.”

Fringe first-team players like Jaime Peters, Dean McDonald and Jimmy Juan, all of whom were on the bench at the weekend, will turn out for Town in tonight's reserve game against Leicester, kick-off 7pm.

Meanwhile, Ipswich failed in an effort to sign West Ham midfielder Carl Fletcher on loan, it was revealed yesterday. The 25-year-old former Bournemouth player, who was in the Hammers' line-up in the second leg of the play-off semi-final at Portman Road in May, opted instead to join Watford.

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