D day for Tractor Boys
WHEN Ipswich Town fans look back on this season today's home Premiership crunch match against Newcastle United could well be the defining moment.Following the retreat from Milan after the rather soft surrendering of their UEFA cup place to world class Inter Milan, it is D-Day at Portman Road (kick-off 3.
By Elvin King
WHEN Ipswich Town fans look back on this season tomorrow's home Premiership crunch match against Newcastle United could well be the defining moment.
Following the retreat from Milan after the rather soft surrendering of their UEFA cup place to world class Inter Milan, it is D-Day at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 3.00pm).
A sixth home league defeat of the season will leave George Burley's bottom of the table side with the sort of escape few, other than Houdini, have managed.
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Victory – and it will be only their second in the Premiership – will do wonders for confidence and morale, and put a smile back on the faces of Town fans following the end of their European adventure.
The pressure will be well and truly on and although the surroundings will be somewhat humbler than the splendour of the San Siro the importance of the match will be much greater.
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Town defenders – and Titus Bramble is a doubt – will be swapping one world class striker with another.
Christian Vieri confirmed his £31 million price tag with a magnificent hat-trick in Milan's 4-1 victory on Thursdays. When he was substituted on came the man currently rated the best in the world – Ronaldo.
Tomorrow it is Alan Shearer fresh from celebrating his 100th goal for Newcastle – when Town were hammered 4-1 in the Worthington Cup last month.
The Geordies head for Suffolk having already plundered 48 goals this season and knowing that if they can reach the half-century mark they will have a great chance of making the long trip home with all three points.
Shearer said: "For us to have scored 48 goals so far this season is really excellent and what is particularly pleasing is that everyone is chipping in.
"Craig Bellamy is in double figures, I've got a few and so too have Nobby Solano, Shola Ameobi and Laurent Robert. This is a good sign.
"We know that if we are going to qualify for Europe then we have to go to places like Ipswich and win."
Shearer has a tremendous scoring record against Ipswich since they returned to the Premiership last season.
For in two games against George Burley's side, Shearer has helped himself to four goals on his way to 100 in a black and white shirt.
Ipswich will be banking on a now-fit Finidi George to produce the sort of form that tempted Burley to buy him from Real Mallorca in the summer.
Burley will also be looking for a match-winning show from new striker Marcus Bent who will be playing his third match since his arrival from Blackburn Rovers.
The Town manager has a number of selection posers and will it be Wilnis or Makin, Magilton or Peralta, McGreal or Bramble, Wright or George, Counago or Naylor or Armstrong?
Bramble took a knock on his ankle which was swollen as the team flew back from Milan yesterday following a morning training session but everyone else who took part in the game at the San Sir should be available.
Laurent Robert returned to Tyneside yesterday after being stranded by the French air traffic controllers' strike, while Clarence Acuna has a slight hamstring problem.
IPSWICH TOWN: Sereni; Makin, Bramble, Venus, Hreidarsson, Wright, George, Magilton, Peralta, Holland, Clapham, M Bent, Armstrong, Counago, Naylor, McGreal, Branagan, Gaardsoe and D Bent.
Squad: Given, Harper, Elliott, Griffin, Bernard, Hughes, Dabizas, O'Brien, Distin, Lee, Solano, Speed, Robert, Dyer, Acuna, Bassedas, Shearer, Bellamy, Ameobi, Lua Lua.
Referee: Mr Rob Styles (Waterlooville).