Town players are sinners turned saints

IT IS appropriate that Ipswich Town are locking horns with the Saints at St Mary's Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).The Blues go into their Coca-Cola Championship match against troubled Southampton having collected just two bookings in their last seven games.

Elvin King

IT IS appropriate that Ipswich Town are locking horns with the Saints at St Mary's Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

The Blues go into their Coca-Cola Championship match against troubled Southampton having collected just two bookings in their last seven games.

They have turned from sinners to saints after having one of the worst disciplinary records in the Football League last season.


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Only one player - Gary Roberts - has been banned for receiving five cautions this campaign, and with the number of bookings required for a ban going up from tomorrow Ipswich look unlikely to suffer any further suspensions for yellow cards.

Leading the way is defender Alex Bruce, who may not actually have a halo hanging over his head but compared to 2006/07 has become a saint.

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In 28 appearances this term “St Alex” has been booked just once.

In the opening 14 games of last season the 23-year-old was shown a yellow card nine times!

Referees ran out of lead in their pencils as they cautioned the Republic of Ireland player a total of 12 times - plus a red card against Derby County that was later rescinded.

Bruce's only misdemeanour this term was in the 27th minute of the second league game of the season at Plymouth. Since August 18 he has been clean.

The extra availability this impressive record has brought has given Town the edge over their rivals when it comes to preferred team selections.

Town have had four red cards in 2007/08, but more lenient referees would not necessarily have sent off Fabian Wilnis, Tommy Miller, Liam Trotter and Sito Castro.

The biggest culprit has been manager Jim Magilton, who was sent to the stands against Stoke City last Saturday and faces a touchline ban and hefty fine.

He was also in trouble for comments made to the referee after the draw at Burnley, and was also up before the FA after a “sending off” at Preston last March.

In the last seven games going back to the trip to Blackpool on January 19, the only time a referee has flourished a yellow card Ipswich's way was to Danny Haynes for a 79th minute foul and Stephen Bywater for 90th minute time wasting in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on February 12.

Tomorrow's likely squads

Southampton: Davis, Thomas, Pearce, Davies, Vignal, Viafara, Idiakez, Wright, Surman, Saganowski, John, Poke, Licka, Wright-Phillips, Hammill, Euell.

Ipswich Town: Bywater, Bruce, Naylor, De Vos, Harding, Norris, Miller, Sumulikoski, Haynes, Walters, Lee, Quinn, Wright, Garvan, Counago, Trotter, Sito, Colgan.

Referee: Mr M P Russell (Hertfordshire).

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