Don't rule us out - Joe

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle refused to count Ipswich out of the race for play-off places.But as he clung to the hope of taking Town into the top six for the third year in a row, he also admitted: “We've a lot to do.

IPSWICH Town boss Joe Royle refused to count Ipswich out of the race for play-off places.

But as he clung to the hope of taking Town into the top six for the third year in a row, he also admitted: “We've a lot to do.”

Ipswich can boost their chances with a victory over fourth-placed Leeds at Portman Road tomorrow night, when French midfielder Jimmy Juan will be serving a one-game ban for five yellow cards.

Confidence is high in the Town ranks, despite the absence of the on-loan Monaco star who


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netted a spectacular free-kick in the last home league game, a 1-1 draw with a Sheffield United side on course for automatic promotion.

Royle added: “We are in the middle of a block of four games and we went into it knowing that our results would probably determine whether or not we would have a realistic chance of making the play-offs.

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“As things stand we have fallen a bit behind but we drew with Sheffield United, won at Southampton and now we have Leeds at home and Norwich away in the space of the next six days.

“There is no doubt that we are gaining in belief all the time and I would think people who have seen our recent performances would have noticed that.

“We had a spell where we suffered for not

having enough strength up front, but even if the results weren't what we wanted it's not as if we were playing badly.

“Overall, our form has been good for a few weeks but we needed wins to rubber-stamp it and for the fans to believe it.”

Town are now unbeaten in four outings, taking eight points from a possible 12, and if they maintained that average over the remainder of the season it would give them an end-of-season tally of 69.

Traditionally, that would mean them narrowly missing out on the play-offs, and as they are currently ten points adrift of sixth-placed Preston it looks to be a step too far for Royle's men.

But wins over Leeds and at Carrow Road on Sunday, with the right combination of results elsewhere, would considerably improve their chances of edging into the top six.

Royle accepts his team are perhaps border-line contenders, but the beauty of the play-off system is that the door is open to just about every club not involved in the fight against relegation.

Encouraged by the recent upturn in fortune, he also realises that Leeds will be formidable opponents.

He said: “It's another big one and there's no denying that Leeds are where we would love to be in the table. In fact, we would love to be even higher - in the top two.

“They are a little bit more direct, without being route one, and they have a lot of good, solid players in their squad as a result of being able to go out and spend decent money.”

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