Fab holds the key for Town

IPSWICH defender Fabian Wilnis holds the key to boss Joe Royle's attacking options for the weekend trip to Wolves.Royle will breathe a huge sigh of relief if the 35-year-old Dutchman continues his improvement and recovers from the bruised ribs he sustained in Town's 2-1 win at Crewe on Tuesday.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH defender Fabian Wilnis holds the key to boss Joe Royle's attacking opt-ions for the weekend trip to Wolves.

Royle will breathe a huge sigh of relief if the 35-year-old Dutchman continues his impr-ovement and recovers from the bruised ribs he sustained in Town's 2-1 win at Crewe on Tuesday.

If Wilnis is fit to play at Molineux it will clear the way for the versatile Richard Naylor to plug the gap caused by the enforced absence of in-form Alan Lee, who is sidelined with a torn hamstring.

Lee, the eighth Ipswich striker to be hit by injury this season, could miss as many as four games as ninth-placed Town

battle to close the gap on the teams above them.

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Royle's efforts to recruit a loan striker have so far failed to bear fruit, although he has still not given up hope of bringing in someone for the Wolves game.

He said: “I am still trying and there is still time, but there are no guarantees in this situation. I will know more once other

managers assess their own requirements and get back to me.

“But the news that Fabian is getting better all the time is very welcome. If he is fit it at least gives us options.

“He is definitely in with a chance - how big a chance will depend on how he gets over the next 24 hours or so. But we are hopeful at this stage.

“Fabian is tough and tends to get on with it, but ribs are very painful and generally slow to heal.

He was a lot better yesterday, though, and it's a case of fingers crossed that he will make it in time.”

If Wilnis is fit to line up alongside Jason De Vos in central defence, Naylor will be free to partner Tuesday's match winner, Dean McDonald, up front.

There is no possibility of Dean Bowditch being recalled from his loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers, while Adam Proudlock is still struggling with a knee problem that prevented him having a run-out with the reserves last night.

One piece of good news for Royle & Co was that they moved a point closer to the play-off zone as a result of Preston being held to a 0-0 draw by George Burley's Southampton last night.

It leaves Ipswich eight points adrift of the sixth-placed Lilywhites, although Billy Davies' side have a game in hand and a much better goal difference than Town.

Royle added: “I suppose people expected Preston to win last night but don't forget they are unbeaten in 25 games, which is a fantastic run.

“Watford and Leeds are also doing well, so it still remains a tall order for us to finish in the top six. All we can do is to carry on winning.

“It's a nice situation after all the problems we have had with injuries this season, but it's sad that we're still having the same ill-luck at the moment.

“All credit to the players for what they have achieved in recent weeks.

“To go eight games unbeaten is a terrific run and we have done it by playing well and passing the ball with precision.

“Despite the knock-backs there is nothing wrong with the spirit in the camp and I think that must have been obvious to everyone.”

Town are giving a trial to the 26-year-old Nigerian striker Henry Nwosu who has played in Poland, Germany and Israel. He was recommended by former Portman Road favourite Colin Viljoen and will spend a few days in training while boss Joe Royle and his staff assess him.

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