Gutsy Gareth is ready for battle

IPSWICH Town's gutsy Gareth McAuley will strap up his right wrist to go into battle against his former club Leicester City on Sunday.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town's gutsy Gareth McAuley will strap up his right wrist to go into battle against his former club Leicester City on Sunday.

The 30-year-old central defender broke his wrist when he collided with Crystal Palace striker Victor Moses at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day.

He played against Queens Park Rangers at Portman Road two days later with no feeling in his hand after a painkilling injection.

And he also withstood the pain to put in another outstanding performance when Town made it back-to-back victories with an FA Cup third round win at Blackpool last Saturday.

“The bone is knitting together and it will not stop me playing at the weekend,” said McAuley.

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“It is the nobbly bit in my wrist and it is no big deal.

“If I was to have fallen on it against Rangers or Blackpool I would not have felt it. But I might be able to play without an injection at Leicester.”

This will be McAuley's first return to the Foxes since he was signed for �600,000 by previous Ipswich manager Jim Magilton in the summer of 2008.

And he sees it as a chance to keep up Town's good run that has seen them beaten just once in their previous 13 games.

“We are back on track after the nasty bump that was the defeat at Palace,” he added.

“If we can string some wins together it will get the year off to a good start - and we will see where it takes us.

“In the first half of the campaign we drew too many games. In this half we must look to win the number of matches that we drew up to Christmas.”

McAuley was signed by Leicester from Lincoln City, and the Foxes gave him an opportunity to play at Championship level even though they were relegated at the end of the 2007/08 season.

“I loved it at Leicester although by the time I left the club was in a bit of a mess with 45 professionals,” said the Northern Ireland international.

“They have sorted themselves out now and are doing well after gaining promotion out of League One at the first attempt.

“Matty Fryatt is a fine striker with immaculate close control and a proven finisher. He is a player we will have to watch closely.

“Damien Delaney is now in his natural position where he did well at Hull City and our partnership at the back is developing - and hopefully it will develop more.

“My form is okay and keeping a few clean sheets is pleasing. But there is more I can bring to the table.

“It is a monkey off my back to have scored a couple of goals, and this is something I want to improve on as well.”

After being dropped and then picking up a thigh injury at Plymouth on October 24, McAuley has been an ever-present for the last seven matches, and he is hoping for a good reception - and three points - on his weekend return to Leicester.