Jim to nurse Billy through

IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton is ready to “nurse” teenage goal ace Billy Clarke through the hectic Christmas and New Year programme.The 19-year-old striker, whose four goals this season have all come as a substitute, is still troubled by an ankle injury that has seen him miss four of Town's last eight games.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton is ready to “nurse” teenage goal ace Billy Clarke through the hectic Christmas and New Year programme.

The 19-year-old striker, whose four goals this season have all come as a substitute, is still troubled by an ankle injury that has seen him miss four of Town's last eight games.

So Magilton knows the forthcoming schedule of four games in the space of just nine days is a tall order for the young Irishman.


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The Town boss said: “Billy's going to be OK but his body is still coming to terms with the hustle and bustle of life in the Championship.

“He's taken a few knocks along the way and we will have to nurse him along, but he will be in the squad for the game against Stoke on Saturday.”

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But Magilton conceded that he could well have to rotate his squad for the games against Stoke, Coventry, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham - four teams who are all currently higher in the table than his own.

He said: “Much as we would like to field a consistent 11, it is at times like this that you are a little bit wary of what you've got.

“Every member of the squad should be on full alert, ready to play, and I can see from the competitive nature of our training that they are all keen for a bit of the action.”

Meanwhile, the Town boss has confirmed an interest in another Irish player - Cork City striker Roy O'Donovan, a Republic B cap whose displays have attracted a string of admirers this season.

Magilton is also keen to sign Cork midfielder George O'Callaghan, who has been on trial at Portman Road, but is steadfastly refusing to cough up the £100,000 asking price.

He has been on O'Donovan's trail for some time and said: “If we'd been able to pinch Roy early that would have been lovely as no one had heard of him outside of Ireland.

“Had we nicked him then it might have been different, perhaps the same scenario as we have with George O'Callaghan, but now I think everybody's interested in him.

“We've asked to have him on trial but they aren't budging. To be fair, I don't blame them. Their attitude is 'You watch him, you like him, you buy him'.”

O'Donovan, who has also collected under-19 and under-21 honours, is a former right-winger who has been pushed up front and hit 11 goals in the current campaign.

The 21-year-old joined Coventry straight from school then moved to Cheltenham, from whom Cork signed him in March last year.

The Irish club are reported to have rejected bids as high as £170,000 for a player whose form has prompted Wigan, as well as the Championship trio of Derby, Wolves and Sunderland, to check on him.

Former Ipswich striker Jonas Axeldal is back on the Portman Road payroll, scouting for the club in his native Sweden and throughout Scandinavia for potential new signings.

Midfielder Liam Trotter is to return to Ipswich at the end of the year. The 18-year-old has made three appearances, including one start, during his four months on loan at League One side Millwall.

Ricardo Fuller and Michael Duberry will both miss Stoke City's trip to Ipswich on Saturday.

Fuller, who was on loan briefly to Town last season, picked up his fifth yellow card of the season along with Duberry in the Potters' 3-0 defeat at Colchester last weekend. They are both suspended for the match at Portman Road.

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