Burley has faith in youth

SOCCER: Ipswich Town manager George Burley has no doubts about relying on youth as his Ipswich Town team take on Helsingborgs IF in the second round, second leg of the UEFA Cup in Sweden.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager George Burley has no doubts about relying on youth as his Ipswich Town team take on Helsingborgs IF in the second round, second leg of the UEFA Cup in Sweden.

Central defender Titus Bramble is standing by to make his return after his ankle problems and is determined to make his presence felt.

And 17-year-old striker Darren Bent is all set to be named as one of the substitutes after scoring a hat-trick in a friendly match against Cambridge United at the Ipswich Town training ground on Monday. Bent is one of the most promising youth players at the club and Burley confirmed today that he is likely to be included in the final squad.

Ipswich drew 0-0 with the Swedish side in the first leg a fortnight ago and if they can keep a tight grip at the back tonight, they stand every chance of making progress.

Burley today talked about the strength and pace of Bramble, a player he termed a colossus – and just the man to bolster a defence that has conceded six goals in their last two Premiership games.

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Bramble played his last game at Manchester United missing the second leg of the previous UEFA Cup round game against Torpedo Moscow but he has been training normally this week and said that he suffered no reaction to last night's training session on the heavy Olympia Stadium pitch.

The 20-year-old England Under 21 International added: "It has been so frustrating these last few weeks sitting on the sidelines.

"The injury has improved a lot and playing for 45 minutes against Cambridge United on Monday was no problem and it did not affect me.

"It will not be ideal to play on the heavy pitch tonight but I hope to be there if I suffer no reaction today from last night's training session.

"I made an early mistake against Torpedo in the last round at Portman Road but managed to score the equalising goal which was very pleasing.

"I have learned from that mistake and as the only Ipswich-born player in the squad, I desperately want the club to keep their UEFA Cup run going.

"If we can keep it tight at the back we have players who can nick a goal at the other end."

If Bramble plays it is likely to be beside Mark Venus with Dane Thomas Gaardsoe dropping out of the team that lost 3-2 to West Ham on Sunday.

John McGreal did not train last night because of his back problems while Jermaine Wright did some work but is also a big doubt following a hamstring pull that he suffered on Sunday.

McGreal is a definite non-starter but there is better news of Richard Naylor who damaged an ankle at Southampton last Wednesday and it is possible that he will partner Marcus Stewart up front as Ipswich look for a goal that will make Helsingborg have to score twice to go through.

Bent has played for the England side at youth level and he was one of the stars of the Town side that reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup last season. He is an emerging talent and tonight could signal a major step up in his career.

Burley said: "Darren is a bright young lad who has been knocking on the door and I have no problem in giving him his head if at all possible.

"And Titus Bramble can give us a great boost as he is a colossus and we have missed his strength and pace in the last few weeks.

"He is a key man and has the potential to become one of the best England defenders in the near future."

Burley will be looking for his players to show no fear and to express themselves more against a Swedish team that finished fifth when their league season ended at the weekend.

Burley added: "There have been many games this season when we should have done better. We have perhaps shown too much anxiety and this is what happens when you are not winning games.

"We know we have a battle now week in, week out in the Premiership but if we can express ourselves tonight and show no fear then we have every chance of making a run in the UEFA Cup.

"It was not a disaster to draw 0-0 at home in the first leg and nothing is decided yet."

Sixto Peralta is likely to start in midfield after impressing when he came on during the final 45 minutes of the Hammers game and Burley said: "He has shown his quality since he came into the team and he has come on well. Hopefully he can continue to make progress and turn into a regular midfield player for us."

Over 2,000 Town fans are expected at tonight's game in a stadium that was built in 1898 and was used in the 1958 World Cup finals.

A gale was blowing for most of yesterday and the Town players woke up at their port side hotel with the wind still blowing but a bright blue sky.

The match is being shown live on BBC 2 and also on Swedish TV. Helsingborg is a 20-minute ferry ride from Denmark and most of the inhabitants are more associated with Copenhagen which is nearby than they are with their own capital Stockholm which is several hundred kilometres to the north.

Helinsingborg's club captain Ulrik Jansson is out and central defender Jesper Jansson will be in charge of the side.


Helsingborgs IF: S Andersson, O Nilsson, M Gustavsson, J Matovac, L Bakkerud, A Santos, H Eklund, M Hansson, R Prica, C Andersson, J Jansson, F Larsson, B Johansen, R Silva, M Lindstrom, J Pelu, M Lindberg, C Jardler.

Ipswich: M Sereni, C Makin, T Bramble, M Venus, H Hreidarsson, M Holland, S Peralta, J Magilton, M Reuser, M Stewart, R Naylor, K Branagan, F Wilnis, J Clapham, P Counago, T Gaardsoe, A Armstrong, G Croft, D Bent, A Marshall.

Referee: Mr E Iturralde-Gonzalez (Spain).

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