Naylor's debt to Royle

IPSWICH Town club captain Richard Naylor today said he was indebted to former Blues boss Joe Royle for putting him in with a chance of a return to the Premier League.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town club captain Richard Naylor today said he was indebted to former Blues boss Joe Royle for putting him in with a chance of a return to the Premier League.

The 31-year-old sat out the opening game of the season, but has been at the back in every Blues Coca-Cola Championship match since.

“I don't think I would be at Portman Road now if Joe Royle had not showed faith in me after he arrived to replace George Burley,” said Naylor, who is Town's longest-serving player having been with the club since school.

He will have a vital role at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster this evening when along with the rest of his defenders he will be looking to keep a third consecutive clean sheet (start 5.20pm).

Naylor's current situation with the Blues is in complete contrast to six years ago when his time at Portman Road looked as though it was coming to an end.

Most Read

He was playing up front, and after being often named by former manager George Burley on the substitutes' bench - including the First Division play-off final victory Wembley in 2000 - the Leeds-born player faded from the scene.

He had loans spells at Millwall and Barnsley towards the end of the 2001/02 campaign and recalled: “The whole situation at Ipswich seemed to indicate that my future wasn't going to be at Portman Road.

“Things had gone a bit pear-shaped between me and George, not on a personal level, but on the football side.

“Joe came in and switched me back to centre-half, and it gave me a new lease of life. I own him a big debt.

“I enjoyed a good run under Joe, and have tried to continue this under Jim (Magilton) although I was out for over a year through injury.”

Coming up to date, Naylor takes pride from helping to keep the goals against column blank over the last two matches.

He added: “That is very difficult to do in this division, and it is pleasing the way things are going with Gareth McAuley

“It is only natural that the more we play at the back together the better it will get.

“I am getting to know him on and off the pitch and we are more aware of each other's strengths.

“Gareth is a good communicator, and understandably he has improved as he has become more settled.”

Naylor is pleased to welcome Darren Ambrose back at the club and the midfielder on loan from Charlton is likely to start on the bench tonight with Magilton set to keep an unchanged side.

“Darren has a lot of quality and we are happy to have him back,” added Naylor. “I am sure we will see the best of him now that he has matured.

“He is comfortable playing on either wing and adds balance to the squad.”

Naylor is expecting a difficult game against a Doncaster side that has not won for 12 matches.

“They are struggling at home, but are a good footballing side and will not be easy to beat,” said Naylor. “We will no be taking anything for granted.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter