Bruce out but is still key

ALEX Bruce may be ruled out of the game but he still has a key role to play in Operation Birminghamthis weekend.Ipswich boss Jim Magilton, who takes his in-form team to meet the Championship leaders at St Andrew's on Saturday, admitted today: “Alex will be helping to mark my card.

By Mel Henderson

ALEX Bruce may be ruled out of the game but he still has a key role to play in Operation Birmingham

this weekend.

Ipswich boss Jim Magilton, who takes his in-form team to meet the Championship leaders at St Andrew's on Saturday, admitted today: “Alex will be helping to mark my card.”

Bruce must sit out the game against the club managed by his father, Steve, as a result of an agreement between the clubs when his free transfer deal was completed in the summer.

Magilton said: “It wasn't something that Steve and I came up with, but to be honest we would have done anything in order to get the deal done.

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“In my view it was a was a small price to pay to get the boy here. He has been one of our best players so far this season.

“Just because he can't play on Saturday doesn't mean he can't play a big part for us. I have been picking his brains and he has been providing quite a few tasty tit-bits.

“We have our own scouting network in place and I have several reports on Birmingham. We always do our homework, but in Alex we could have a very useful ally.

“He can advise about certain strengths and weaknesses and you never know how a little piece of inside info might come in very handy.”

But Magilton admitted he was concerned at Bruce's disciplinary record - five bookings in eight games this season - which means he will also miss the visit of Sunderland to Portman Road on Saturday week.

The Town boss added: “Alex has a fantastic attitude to the game. He's a chip off the old block in that respect - gives everything in training and in games.

“But for his own sake, as well as the club's, he can't go on getting yellow cards at this rate.

“I've told him that if he doesn't stop collecting silly bookings from one game to the next I will throttle him!

“But seriously, he knows it is something he must put right. He just needs to learn to relax a little bit more and improve his composure.

“I'm sure the fact that he is missing big games will affect him. I don't want to curb his enthusiasm but it's clear that we can't carry on like this for the rest of the season.”

N HOW do you think Alex Bruce has settled in at Portman Road? And is he picking up too many yellow cards? Let us know and write to us. Star Sport, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN. Or e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk

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