Town take French strike ace on trial

TRIPLE-championship winner Pascal Nouma has joined Ipswich Town on trial and hopes to make his Blues debut tonight against Spanish side Osasuna.

TRIPLE-championship winner Pascal Nouma has joined Ipswich Town on trial and hopes to make his Blues debut tonight against Spanish side Osasuna, writes Derek Davis.

Town have taken the big forward, who is famed for his hold up play, on trial and hope to get international clearance in time to include him this evening.

Nouma has helped three different clubs win league titles in eight years, but was sacked from Turkish side Besiktas in April last year, following a bizarre goal celebration when he put his hands down the front of his shorts.

The 32-year-old served a seven-month ban and spent part of last season with Qatar club Al Khor but has come to England looking for a club.

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The Paris-born striker twice won the French League, the first time was with Paris St Germain. He did not play a big part in the 1995 season of success when they also won the French Cup as the team was packed with stars which included George Weah and David Ginola in their prime.

His second league title came with Strasbourg in 1997 when he scored 14 goals in all competitions in 30 appearances.

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Nouma's first spell with Besiktas in the 2000-2001 season saw him net 18 goals in 24 league appearances. The six-footer has also played for Lille, Lens, Caen and Olympique Marseilles.

He has scored in the Champions' League and helped Besiktas win the Turkish League in 2003, although he netted just four goals in 17 appearances before he left the Black Eagles.

The vastly-experienced front man, who is also good in the air, has recently been on trial with the Eagles in London although Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie passed on him.

Blues boss Joe Royle last night said: "Pascal has joined us on trial and as he has been playing at other clubs he is match fit. I'm confident that the international clearance will come through in time and he will play a part in tonight's game."

Town are likely to go with a three-man attack with Spaniard Pablo Counago spearheading at the start with Dean Bowditch and Darren Bent providing the service.

Out though, is defender Matt Richards who suffered a cut on his foot in the win over Newcastle United and will not be risked.

Scott Barron could well get the nod in the left-back spot, although either Fabian Wilnis or Drissa Diallo could shuffle across.

Ian Westlake has made a better-than-expected recovery after an operation to have wisdom teeth removed while Jim Magilton will be tested this morning to see how he has recovered from a thigh strain.

Royle is looking to get as near as he can to the starting XI which will face Gillingham on Saturday and also wants the crowd to try and create the sort of atmosphere that will help Town win more points at Portman Road.

He said: "Osasuna are a good side who will give us a good test. They have good players and Savo Milosevic was always a handful when he was at Aston Villa.

"This is our last game before it gets serious and we want to show we are ready. The crowd can help us make it three wins in three at home."

Georges Santos' protracted move to QPR should happen in the next 24 hours, although the Frenchman was training with Ipswich yesterday afternoon.

Rangers' boss Ian Holloway said: "Everything has virtually been done now so Georges should be with us by Monday or Tuesday."

Ipswich Town squad

Davis, Wilnis, Barron, Naylor, De Vos, Westlake, Horlock, Miller, Counago, Bent, Bowditch, Magilton, Price, Nouma, Murray, Mitchell and Kuqi.

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