Town star hails team spirit

IPSWICH defensive stalwart Jason De Vos has issued a rallying call for the Town troops ahead of the hectic Christmas schedule: “Let's keep it going, lads.

By Dave Vincent

IPSWICH defensive stalwart Jason De Vos has issued a rallying call for the Town troops ahead of the hectic Christmas schedule: “Let's keep it going, lads.”

Ipswich have collected 46 points from 23 league games, an average of two points a game, while Coca-Cola Championship leaders Wigan have earned one point more.

Both teams have won 13 league games so next week's meeting of the two teams at Portman Road is a real six-pointer.

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Canadian international De Vos paid tribute to the team spirit which saw Town bounce back from a 2-1 deficit against Queens Park Rangers last Saturday for a thrilling 4-2 win.

Town prepare to kick-off the second half of the Championship season by trying to leapfrog leaders Wigan Athletic next Tuesday.

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And they face five crucial games in a fortnight against Wigan, Stoke City, Millwall, West Ham United and Plymouth.

He said: “We are in a very good position and we have got to do the rest of the job. We have still got a lot of work to do.

“If we can equal the same points from the next 23 games we know we will be celebrating promotion.

“We have to put our celebrations on hold until May, we can really celebrate then. Christmas is not make or break but it is a very important time of the season with so many games close together.”

De Vos scored last Saturday and is looking forward to clashing with his former team-mates on Tuesday.

“I am sure there will be a lot of banter going down on the pitch against Wigan,” he added.

“I still keep in touch with Matt Jackson, my former defensive partner, he has done really well there. When I left Wigan I put it behind me and concentrated on settling in as much as possible here.

“It has been really easy for me, there is a great spirit in the squad here at Ipswich, all the boys have really made me welcome here.”

De Vos left Wigan to join Ipswich in the summer and signed a deal which will keep him here for the rest of this season and for the next two seasons.

“The main reason I came here was I wanted to be part of the club and I feel I am helping the club progress,” De Vos continued.

“The Wigan game moving to next Tuesday has changed our routine, but the manager is trying to keep it as normal as possible.

“It is a cliché maybe but we are taking every game as it comes.”

Meanwhile, Town manager Joe Royle and assistant Willie Donachie have signed their new extended contracts which will keep them at Portman Road until the end of 2007.

The highly-rated partnership have steered Town into a prime promotion position despite a very limited transfer budget by assembling a side of free transfers and youth products.

Irish striker Billy Clarke is the latest Academy product to be offered a full professional deal at the club. Clarke looked lively and scored in Town's FA Youth Cup 3-2 win over Portsmouth on Monday, despite suffering a hamstring strain.

Royle praised the youngsters for that performance, which takes them on to meet Manchester United or Stoke City in the New Year.

He told the club website: “The lads were excellent, played really well and thoroughly deserved to win.

“It was like watching the first team on occasions; chances missed, all over the opposition, yet having to come from behind to win.

“Aidan Collins played very well and was unlucky not to score himself. He is really pushing on now after a year of injuries and Michael Synnott also enjoyed a good game.

“Cathal Lordan and Billy Clarke showed some nice touches and Billy got a lovely goal as well.

“It was a terrific all-round team performance and they all deserve a lot of credit.”

n Ipswich Town's season tickets have broken through the 18,000 barrier, with 800 half-season tickets sold since November 13.

The season tickets cover the last 11 home games, starting with Stoke on Tuesday, December 28. Sample prices include £100 for an Under-20 ticket in the Greene King Upper Stand, £80 for Under-16s.

And in the Cobbold family area an Under-11s seat costs £27.50 for example.

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