Jim has nothing but praise for Fab

IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton today praised the professionalism of axed star Fabian Wilnis.The 36-year-old Dutch defender - the reigning Player of the Year - is in danger of becoming the forgotten man of Portman Road after playing no part in Town's last five games.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton today praised the professionalism of axed star Fabian Wilnis.

The 36-year-old Dutch defender - the reigning Player of the Year - is in danger of becoming the

forgotten man of Portman Road after playing no part in Town's last five games.


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And with Magilton confirming his priority when the transfer window re-opens next month is to sign a right-back, the future appears bleak for a player just two games short of his 300th

appearance for the club.

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But Magilton took time out from preparing for Saturday's visit of lowly Leeds to praise Wilnis'

attitude to being frozen out of the first team picture.

The Town boss said: “I would have to say that Fabian is probably one of the best signings this club has ever made.

“I have the utmost respect for him. He is a top-class professional and I fully understand that he wants to play games rather than sit in the stand.

“But as much as he has looked after himself there comes a time for any player when he needs to accept he is not going to be a

regular choice any more.”

Wilnis came in for strong criticism from Magilton on at least two occasions this season, when the manager blamed him for the loss of goals in home defeats by Preston and Sheffield Wednesday.

He has been out in the cold since the Owls' 2-0 win, despite

recovering from a hamstring strain and insisting he is 100 per cent fit again.

Wilnis has made nine senior starts this season, plus one as a substitute, and his best run came in October when he played in four consecutive games - two wins, a draw and a defeat.

But Magilton added: “I have

spoken to him one to one, which I believe you have to do in this type of case. I know exactly how he feels because it's not that long ago that I was in exactly the same

situation.

“Joe (Royle) used to pull me to one side when he wasn't playing me and I believed I should have been in the side.

“I found it difficult coming to terms with the fact that my

playing days were coming to an end and it has happened to plenty of other players in the past.”

The most recent of several one-year contracts signed by Wilnis is due to expire in June, although he insisted recently that he can continue his career into next season.

If it is not at Ipswich, who paid £200,000 to sign him from De Graafschap in January 1999, he intends to look for another club in England.

Magilton pointed to Wilnis as an ideal role model for the many young players in Town's senior squad and added: “I want these lads to look and learn from Fabian and he can help their

development.

“He feels he needs to be playing and that he should be playing, but all I'm saying is that it won't be at the rate he imagines.

“Fabian is another player coming to terms with the fact that I am now the manager and I was very single-minded about what my next step was going to be.

“I've nothing but praise for his attitude, while his all-round

performance around the club is great.”

Sito is another full-back to drop down the pecking order under Magilton's stewardship, all five of his first team starts in the current campaign coming before the end of September.

Since then the Spaniard has only appeared twice as a substitute in 12 games and Magilton said: “Although Sito came back in superb shape last summer, he

hasn't progressed at the rate we would have liked.”

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