Jim staggered by kick-off times

IPSWICH skipper Jim Magilton today hit out at the decision to allow tonight's two crucial games involving the Championship's top three clubs to kick off at different times.

IPSWICH skipper Jim Magilton today hit out at the decision to allow tonight's two crucial games involving the Championship's top three clubs to kick off at different times.

While Town's home clash with bottom club Rotherham will get under way at 7.45pm, title rivals Wigan and Sunderland will commence battle at the JJB Stadium 15 minutes later.

Magilton, cock-a-hoop after ending a 19-month goal famine in the 3-2 weekend win over Derby, said: “I think it would make more sense for the two games to be played simultaneously.”

Because of the staggered starts, both Wigan and Sunderland will know the outcome at Portman Road and it could influence how they approach the closing stages of their own game.

Magilton said: “Not for one minute do I think there will be any wrong-doing. Neither of the other sides can affect what happens at our place.

“Equally, I am sure managers Paul Jewell and Mick McCarthy will send out their teams to win the game at the JJB Stadium.

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“But once our result filters through, and depending on what is happening in their own game, you wonder how it will make them react.

“I don't understand why the Football League don't just order both games to start at the same time and eliminate all these thoughts.”

Promotion would be the perfect present for Magilton, who will be 36 just two days before Ipswich wind up their league campaign at Brighton on May 8 - when all Championship games will start at 1pm.

He is still celebrating his goal against Derby and laughed: “It had been so long since I had scored that I had forgotten that wonderful feeling you get when the ball hits the back of the net.

“I think the Titanic went down the last time I got a goal but it was definitely worth the wait.

“It settled us down and we got into our stride to go on and win the game. Mind you, we still made life difficult for ourselves - as we usually do - when we let them in for a second.

“But it has set us up for Rotherham tonight, although I'm expecting a really tough game. If we are not at our best we could be made to suffer.”

Magilton agrees it is all about results over the final six games of the season, adding: "If we have a good performance as well, all well and good.

"But the only thing that matters now is that we keep winning. We were at full throttle against Derby, but we will take the points any which way we can.

"I spent the weekend thinking about what would suit us best in the other game but in all honesty I'm not sure what to make of it.

"I am desperate to win the Championship. That's my dream, but that's me being selfish and with three teams all playing six games anything can happen.

"I know it won't make it any easier to win the title, but I wonder if a Sunderland win might not be best for us.

"Provided we do the business against Rotherham - and that's the most important thing - Wigan losing would put us three points clear of them.

"But it is worth remembering that Rotherham won at Stoke on Saturday and we know from experience how difficult it can be to go there and get a result.

"That tells us they cannot be taken lightly. We can only control our own destiny and they will have a defensive game plan designed to make life difficult for us.

"But if we play with the same attacking force as we did on Saturday - Benty and big Shefki were both brilliant - we should be able to do it."

Ipswich boss Joe Royle has named an unchanged starting line-up and, with no fresh injury worries, will have the same five players on the bench.

After winning at Stoke, their first Saturday success all season, Rotherham may also stick with a same-again side.

Midfielder Michael Keane was stretchered off at the Britannia Stadium after taking a heavy blow to his head and arm, but he has declared himself fit.

The Millers could be relegated tonight if they lose and rivals Cardiff or Gillingham claim a point at Stoke and QPR respectively.

SQUADS

IPSWICH: Davis, Naylor, De Vos, Unsworth, Wilnis, Magilton, Miller,

Westlake, Currie, Kuqi, Bent, Richards, Horlock, Counago, Scowcroft and

Price.

ROTHERHAM: Pollitt, Scott, Swailes, McIntosh, Hurst, Mullin, McLaren, Keane, Campbell-Ryce, Butler, Thorpe, Barker, Vernazza, Hoskins, Warne and Montgomery.

Referee: Lee Probert (Bristol).

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