Drissa wants to show fans

Drissa Diallo wants to forget a miserable 2003/04 campaign and show Ipswich supporters his real self. The Guinea international will start alongside new signing Jason De Vos in tonight's friendly game against AaB Aalborg in Denmark.

By Elvin King

Drissa Diallo wants to forget a miserable 2003/04 campaign and show Ipswich supporters his real self.

The Guinea international will start alongside new signing Jason De Vos in tonight's friendly game against AaB Aalborg in Denmark.

Diallo has been given first chance by manager Joe Royle to help stem the flow of goals that marred Ipswich's season last campaign when they conceded far more goals than their promotion rivals.

Diallo said today: “It was my most miserable time and I just could not get going.”

The man who Royle signed from Burnley just over 12 months ago sustained a knee injury in the autumn after colliding with team-mate Georges Santos in a home match against Wimbledon and he took several months to recover.

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He added: “I never really got into my stride and it was a season that I want to forget.

“I still have faith in my ability and am certain I can do a good job and show Ipswich supporters that the manager made a right choice when he gave me a two-year contract.”

Royle is set to field a strong side in tonight's match and Diallo and new signing De Vos have been together during the training sessions in the week-long tour of Denmark where Ipswich are preparing for the new season.

Richard Naylor and Darren Bent will be providing the firepower against an Aalborg team that finished fourth in the Danish league last season and is set to include former Norwich City player David Nielsen.

The north east Denmark club also reached the final of the national cup before losing to double winners FC Copenhagen.

Aalborg are expecting a crowd of more than 10,000 for tonight's match. They were the team from whom Ipswich signed Thomas Gaardsoe and have players who are full-time and include a number of senior internationals.

Diallo will have a chance to show his worth as Royle looks at his players with a view to deciding his line-up before the first Coca-Cola championship match against Gillingham on August 7.

Kelvin Davis will return in goal after his deputy Lewis Price kept a clean sheet in Tuesday's draw against Randers when the quality of the game left much to be desired. But tonight's match will not be so low key and Davis is likely to be kept at full stretch.

He is now being coached by Andy Rhodes who has taken over from Malcolm Webster as the goalkeeping coach at Portman Road. Rhodes, 39, held a similar position at Bradford City last season and he played for Oldham when Joe Royle was manager in the late 1980s.

Rhodes, who has become an instant hit with the Town staff, said: “Joe signed me from Doncaster in 1986 and I went on to play in the League Cup final at Wembley against Nottingham Forest.

“We also reached the FA Cup semi-final at Maine Road and lost to Manchester United after a replay.”

Rhodes, who played for Norwich for three months in their Premiership days when Bryan Gunn was injured, also included Barnsley and Scottish clubs Dunfermline and Airdrie in his playing career. He qualified as a goalkeeping coach in the year 2000 and coached at Barnsley, Manchester City and Oldham before joining Bradford.

Taking a break from putting Davis and Price through their paces in readiness for tonight's game, Rhodes said: “It is compulsory to pass the outfield coaching exams before taking on the goalkeeping course.”

“When Joe Royle rang to ask me to replace Malcolm Webster I had no hesitation in agreeing.

“It has been a great start for me, while Kelvin Davis, who has known Malcolm some while, has been open and we have soon built up a good working relationship.

“I try to make the sessions as interesting as possible and dress them up to keep the training bright for our high quality goalkeeping staff.”

Rhodes is currently staying with manager Joe Royle in his rented house just outside Ipswich, but is looking to rent a place, possibly in the Woodbridge area, for himself, wife Linda and sons Jordan, 14, Lewis, 12, and daughter Elinor, seven.

His wife is the brother of former professional Steve Agnew while Jordan is on a two-year academy deal with Barnsley as an outfield player and Lewis is a budding goalkeeper.

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