Big Joe's derby day dilemma
JOE Royle is ready to shatter several Ipswich players' derby day dreams.When the Ipswich boss unveils his line-up for Sunday's big game against Norwich at Portman Road, several stars will inevitably be omitted.
By Mel Henderson
JOE Royle is ready to shatter several Ipswich players' derby day dreams.
When the Ipswich boss unveils his line-up for Sunday's big game against Norwich at Portman Road, several stars will inevitably be omitted.
Compared to earlier in the current campaign, when his resources were severely stretched, the Town boss almost has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.
He admitted: "For the first time this season I'm going to have to disappoint some players, but if we are to be successful we need that competition for places throughout the team.
"I know those players who don't play will be disappointed, but I also want them to be determined to get back into the side."
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There appear to be three 'problem' areas for Royle – at the back, on the left of midfield and up front – before his team selection is made public in advance of Sunday's noon kick-off.
Should the fit-again Richard Naylor oust comeback star John McGreal to partner Georges Santos in the centre of defence?
Will Royle opt for experience over youth and recall loanee Alan Mahon for his first start in two months, at the expense of 20-year-old Ian Westlake?
And who is going to be left on the bench as Shefki Kuqi, Darren Bent and Pablo Counago vie for the two places in attack?
The importance of Sunday's game, as far as local rivalry is concerned, is not lost on Royle after he played in the fixture for the Canaries.
But he stressed: "I know how much it means to supporters and I would never under-play or under-sell that side of it, but to me as a manager it is all about getting three points."
Royle would be delighted if the outcome on Sunday emulated that of Boxing Day 1980 when he last featured in a derby fixture at Portman Road.
Goals either side of half-time by Scots pair Alan Brazil and John Wark steered third-top Ipswich to a comfortable 2-0 win.
Royle was in the Norwich number nine shirt and he donned it again on Easter Monday 1981 when Town's title hopes were dented by a 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road.
Strike partner Justin Fashanu netted in the 62nd minute and Royle owned up: "I think I played a part in that goal.
"I seem to remember I battered into Terry Butcher and the ball bounced down for Justin to put it away."
Meanwhile, coming right up to date, Norwich are set to unveil a brand new strike force at the weekend after completing a deal to sign Charlton striker Matthias Svensson.
The 29-year-old former Swedish international is likely to partner Leon McKenzie, his former Crystal Palace colleague who was snapped up from Peterborough last week.
But while both players are lined up for Portman Road debuts, the on-off transfer saga involving Manchester City striker Darren Huckerby is set to drag on beyond the weekend.
Huckerby, who scored six goals in 16 loan appearances for the Canaries, was today set to discuss personal terms with Norwich.
But they will have to wait until at least Monday, when he has promised to meet West Bromwich Albion boss Gary Megson for the same purpose, before knowing where the player sees his future.