Blues to miss Driss

IPSWICH new boy Drissa Diallo will miss the start of pre-season training.And the Guinea international is also likely to be absent for a large chunk of the 2003-2004 campaign.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH new boy Drissa Diallo will miss the start of pre-season training.

And the Guinea international is also likely to be absent for a large chunk of the 2003-2004 campaign.

Diallo, 30, was Town boss Joe Royle's first signing for the club when he snapped him up earlier this month.

The powerful central defender turned his back on Burnley, who were keen to keep him at Turf Moor, to accept Ipswich's offer of a two-year contract.

But his arrival at Portman Road will be delayed, as he will still be on international duty.

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The Town players regroup on July 2, but Diallo will be back home preparing for Guinea's crucial home clash with Ethiopia four days later.

If Guinea take at least a point from the game in Conakry they will be through to the finals of the African Nations Cup.

Former Ipswich player Finidi George, who recently departed with a £1million pay-off, took part in the 2001 competition.

George was away for the best part of two months with Nigeria, who defeated Mali 1-0 in the third place play-off. He missed seven Town games in that time.

If Diallo was absent for a similar period it could represent a major blow to Town's promotion challenge, since boss Joe Royle will be operating with a depleted squad.

Guinea, who also feature Celtic duo Bobo Balde and Momo Sylla in their ranks, lead their group following a win over Liberia at the weekend.

As long as they don't lose to the Ethiopians they will reach the final stages of the competition to be hosted by Tunisia early next year.

It would be a fantastic feat for Guinea, who started their qualifying group with a 3-0 home win over Liberia, when West Ham's Titi Camara was one of their marksmen.

Then they went down 1-0 to Ethiopia in Addis Ababa before beating Niger 2-0 at home and losing by the only goal in the return clash.

The win over Liberia at the weekend took place in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, because of the civil war in Monrovia.

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