Jim's the driving force
BOSS Joe Royle today hailed the important role that skipper Jim Magilton has played in Ipswich's promotion drive.With the experienced Magilton at the wheel, Town hope to motor into the play-offs and follow neighbours Norwich into the Premiership.
By Mel Henderson
BOSS Joe Royle today hailed the important role that skipper Jim Magilton has played in Ipswich's promotion drive.
With the experienced Magilton at the wheel, Town hope to motor into the play-offs and follow neighbours Norwich into the Premiership.
Ipswich are cruising at the moment, having won six of their last seven games, but Royle paid tribute to his captain's contribution over the entire campaign to date.
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He said: “Jim has been terrific all season and to think he was actually on a free transfer when I came here.”
Not only did Royle award the former Northern Ireland international a new contract last summer, he also named him as his on-the-field lieutenant.
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The Portman Road chief added: “Jim has been a major force for us all the way through. Put it this way - it wasn't a difficult decision to ask him to stay on here.
“Last week's win at Gillingham saw a typical performance from him. We weren't at our best, but he was prompting and passing as usual to get us going.”
Royle revealed he has always been a big fan of the player, whose 35th birthday is just a fortnight away and whose Town career has spanned 231 games and 17 goals.
He said: “When I was manager of Manchester City I actually thought about trying to buy him. I didn't in the end - but I probably should have done.
“I would say Jim is an old-fashioned captain. He's not scared of putting a flea in someone's ear and I've no problem with that, provided it's done in the right manner.
“He also does a lot of encouraging - he's always keen to help the younger players - and he envelops everything that being club captain should be about.
“I really couldn't be happier with Jim. His fitness isn't a problem, because he looks after himself and when we have tried to give him a rest we have clearly missed him.
“I have a very high regard for him and his contribution this season. He would definitely be on my short list for player of the year.”
The Town fans will cast their vote in the annual poll at Saturday's home game against Nottingham Forest, with the winner collecting his trophy in a pre-match presentation when Cardiff visit Portman Road on May 9.
Tommy Miller appears to be fighting a losing battle to appear at the weekend, having been forced to hobble off at Gillingham with a hamstring problem.
He has not trained all week and Royle said: “If he is going to train it will not be until tomorrow, but he must be very doubtful.
“However, we're not writing him off. Tommy has been in a similar position before and then improved sufficiently to play.”
It is still too early to say whether Chris Bart-Williams will return to the squad. Royle reported that the experienced midfielder, who has been plagued by back trouble, was feeling stiff after completing 90 minutes for the reserves on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Royle added his congratulations to Norwich after their promotion to the Premiership was confirmed when Sunderland went down to Crystal Palace last night.
He was keen to praise manager Nigel Worthington and his assistants, Doug Livermore and Steve Foley, and added: “Now it is up to us to go and join them.”