Fabian ready for Keane & Co

MENTION Roy Keane's name and Fabian Wilnis' eyes immediately light up.Ipswich's long-serving defender instantly recalls his goal against Manchester United, for whom Keane was starring at the time, in August 2000.

By Mel Henderson

MENTION Roy Keane's name and Fabian Wilnis' eyes immediately light up.

Ipswich's long-serving defender instantly recalls his goal against Manchester United, for whom Keane was starring at the time, in August 2000.

It was Town's first home game back in the Premiership and, alongside the Wembley play-off success three months earlier, it represents a major highlight of the Dutch defender's eight-year Suffolk stint.

In four Premiership meetings with Manchester United, he was the only Ipswich player to find the net as they also lost 2-0 and 4-0 at Old Trafford and suffered a 1-0 home defeat shortly before their relegation was confirmed in 2002.

“I will never forget that goal,” said Wilnis today as he continued his fight to be fit for Keane's return to Portman Road, as Sunderland's new manager, in just 48 hours' time.

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“It always brings back great memories but it is in the past and the most important thing at the moment is that we take three points on Saturday.

“We are on a good run of five games unbeaten and we want to extend it to at least six. But Sunderland are also going well at the moment and could well be our toughest opponents so far.

“If they are anything like their manager they will be very difficult to beat. Keane was a magnificent player, one of the all-time greats, and I am one of the few players at the club who has played against him.

“He never gave less than 100 per cent and he will expect the same from his players. He also never knew when he was beaten so he will have them fired up. I can't see him settling for second best as a manager.

“He has already had a major impact at Sunderland. Like us they struggled at the start of the season but they now look as if they mean business.

“But if Roy Keane is a winner you could say the same about our manager, Jim Magilton. I think they are similar types.

“The Championship is still wide open and there are a lot of teams who look capable of joining the promotion race. Ipswich and Sunderland are certainly two of them.”

Wilnis is still not a certain starter at the weekend as he bids to overcome the thigh injury that saw him withdraw from the Town line-up at Birmingham last week.

He was all set to start the game but felt a reaction in the warm-up and it was only because of the hosts' co-operation that Ipswich were able to introduce Sito as a replacement.

Wilnis also missed the home win over Southampton and although he returned for the 2-1 victory over Coventry he was forced off before the end.

He said: “I hate missing games and I would love to play against Sunderland. It's a massive game, maybe one of the biggest we will play all season.

“I had a scan on Tuesday and it showed no further damage. If I can get in some training over the next couple of days I should be OK for the weekend.”

On-loan star Simon Walton and fellow midfielder Gavin Williams also had scans as they look to overcome hamstring and groin injuries in time to face Sunderland.

Ipswich have agreed to provide the opposition for a friendly game against Brechin City as part of the Scottish Second Division side's centenary celebrations. Glebe Park will be the venue and a date of October 5 has been provisionally arranged by City boss Michael O'Neil and Jim Magilton.

Ipswich legend John Wark will represent Liverpool against Celtic in an old boys' challenge to be played at Parkhead on October 4. The game will also be screened live by Five. Joe Royle will summarise.

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