Dad-to-be sets sights on double joy

FATHER-to-be Richard Naylor has a double celebration in his sights.Ipswich's ever-popular defender goes into tomorrow's home clash with Millwall eyeing another three points en route to the Championship play-offs.

By Mel Henderson

FATHER-to-be Richard Naylor has a double celebration in his sights.

Ipswich's ever-popular defender goes into tomorrow's home clash with Millwall eyeing another three points en route to the Championship play-offs.

If Town qualify it will be the first of two very special events for Naylor, whose wife Carly is due to present him with their first son in July.

Already a devoted father to the couple's two young daughters, the club's longest-serving player is understandably delighted with his off-the-field good news.

But for the time being it is Town's rebirth - their current run of one defeat in ten games contrasts sharply with their inconsistent form during the first half of the season - that figures uppermost in his mind.

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Naylor, 28, doesn't know if he will be lining up in his customary defensive role, or as an emergency striker, against the relegation-threatened Lions.

He said: “I would have been up front at Preston last week if the game hadn't been postponed and now it's a question of whether or not Alan Lee is able to return.

“I have established myself as a centre-half and that's what the manager believes is my best position, but it's about the team and if I have to switch now and again I just get on with it.

“You need a different mentality for each position. In attack you can try things and it's a different kind of pressure to being in defence, where you know that if you are too casual or you make a mistake it could be punished and there's a good chance the ball will end up in the back of the net.”

Naylor, sent off at The Den in August last year, is convinced Town can close the six-point gap on Preston.

He added: “We have ten games left and that is enough to catch them. We have been in their position before and it can be difficult when you are looking over your shoulder.

“You are aware that there is usually a team that comes with a late run and you are looking to see who it might be. We believe it is going to be us this year.

Town will wait until tomorrow to assess Lee, who returned to full training on Thursday after a slight hamstring tear saw him miss the games against Wolves and Leicester.

Millwall's last-gasp home win over Luton last week ended a depressing run of ten games without success.

Experienced striker Barry Hayles is back in contention after missing 18 games with a knee injury, but a lack of match fitness is likely to limit him to a place on the bench.

SQUADS

IPSWICH: Supple, Wilnis, Naylor, De Vos, Barron, Currie, Juan, Garvan, Rich-ards, Haynes, Lee, Sito, Magilton, Westlake, McDonald and Price.

MILLWALL: Marshall, Lawrence, Robinson, Whit-bread, Craig, Dunne, Elliott, Cameron, Livermore, May, Asaba, Dyer, Williams, Cogan, Hayles, Braniff and Doyle.

Referee: Brian Curson (Leicester).

All tickets for Town's postponed match at Preston, which has been rescheduled for Tuesday, can be used then.

Refunded tickets are on sale from the Portman Road ticket and will also be available on the turnstiles at Deepdale. Fans who no longer wish to use their coach tickets should inform the club by 3pm today.

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