Town to rely on current staff

JOE Royle will save his loan kitty until January after the window closed firmly on his hopes of landing a new striker.An attempted move to bring in a striker failed to materialise and the Blues boss will go in-house to cover for Sam Parkin, who will be out until next February after surgery to insert pins to his broken ankle.

By Derek Davis

JOE Royle will save his loan kitty until January after the window closed firmly on his hopes of landing a new striker.

An attempted move to bring in a striker failed to materialise and the Blues boss will go in-house to cover for Sam Parkin, who will be out until next February after surgery to insert pins to his broken ankle.

He said: “I was never too hopeful of bringing someone in although we did get quite warm but it never came off.”


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Former Town target Daryl Murphy, who signed for Waterford in the summer, went on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, while Norwich City captured midfielder Carl Robinson from Sunderland and moved Jason Jarrett to Plymouth Argyle.

The lack of movement at Portman Road means young Irish striker Billy Clarke is likely to earn his first call-up to the senior squad to play Cardiff City on Monday.

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The 17-year-old goalscorer netted again on Wednesday in the reserves' 4-2 win at Charlton in front of the manager. Royle admitted the Cork striker had impressed since coming back from a knee injury and was looking sharp after also scoring for the Ireland Under-19s recently.

He said: “Billy Clarke is getting closer all the time. His movement is as good as anyone in the club, if not better when it comes to knowing what to do and where to be.

“He loves scoring goals and scored a cracker at Charlton on Wednesday and had another couple saved so he is not far away.”

Dean Bowditch also scored in that game, along with Liam Craig who is also pushing for a senior call up.

Bowditch was left out of the 16 that lost 3-0 to Reading on Tuesday but will be involved on Monday.

Royle said: “Dean did very well at Charlton and got a goal. He just needs to translate that to first-team football and be the threat that we know he can be.

If Adam Proudlock proves his fitness after a knee injury, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves striker could start up front alongside Nicky Forster but Royle is considering sticking with Richard Naylor.

Royle said: “Naylor playing up front is a possibility but I consider Bam Bam as a centre-half who can play up front rather than a forward who can play centre-half. If I have to I will play him up front but we have enough forwards around us not to need to do that.”

Just when it looked as if the injury crisis which has hampered the Blues all season was about to clear up, Royle has been hit by a new catalogue of set-backs.

Sito Castro missed training yesterday with an ankle knock while Jimmy Juan came off early with a recurrence of a calf strain.

With four days still to go before the Cardiff City match Sito is expected to be fine unless he gets a fresh injury.

Juan remains a doubt, while Ian Westlake is also unlikely to figure after a foot injury picked up at the Valley after scoring for the Reserves. He now has a swollen foot.

Keeper Lewis Price is seeing a specialist about a finger injury but is almost certain to play in the televised game on Monday.

The 21-year-old Wales No. 1 has been suffering from a chipped bone in a finger, which he picked up in training last month.

He has subsequently played half-a-dozen matches with the injury and he will have it checked as a precaution.

Owen Garvan is also making good progress from a chipped bone in an ankle and while it is unlikely he will play on Monday, the young Irishman could take part in the FA Youth Cup match at Leeds United next Wednesday.

Norwegian midfielder Vemund Brekke-Skard, who can't play until January anyway, has had a hernia repair and will be out of training until next month.

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