Joe hopes youth success will rub off

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today called on his senior stars to add to the feel-good factor at the club.Royle watched with pride as Town's budding stars progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Portman Road last night.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today called on his senior stars to add to the feel-good factor at the club.

Royle watched with pride as Town's budding stars progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Portman Road last night.

He said: “It was a terrific performance from one to 11. Nobody let us down and the same again at Preston tomorrow would go down very well.

“The club is on a real high at the moment - everybody's flying - and we will be going up there trying to win.”


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Ipswich have been at the top of the Championship since beating promotion rivals Wigan almost two months ago.

They now have 14 games left to play and Royle said: “We're into the final third and can almost see the finishing post now.

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“Within a month we will be down to single figures in terms of remaining games and it would be lovely to look at Saturday's fixtures with an eight-point lead at the top of the table.”

Royle is hoping to have a full-strength squad available, with the obvious exception of top scorer Shefki Kuqi, who faces a month on the sidelines after suffering a gashed thigh in last week's 2-1 win over Leicester.

But there is still cause for concern on the fitness of midfielder Kevin Horlock and teenage striker Dean Bowditch.

Horlock has been having treatment for a shoulder problem, while Bowditch picked up a bizarre injury in the warm-up to the Foxes' game.

Royle said: “Kevin is now less of a doubt than Dean. He has rejoined the training, but he still has to prove his fitness in a football sense.

“Dean has a sore, bruised foot. He was playing head tennis in the gym on Saturday when he collided with the wall.

“He felt fine to be on the bench but it was a lot worse the next day.

“With both lads I am hopeful that another 24 hours will make a considerable difference.”

Horlock and Bowditch were facing fitness tests before the squad flew north for a game that will be screened live on Sky Sports 3.

Spanish striker Pablo Counago, out of favour and axed from the 16-man squad for Town's last two games, is on standby in case Bowditch fails to make it.

Scott Mitchell is the likeliest addition if Horlock misses out, although the experienced former West Ham player is confident he will be ready in time.

On-loan Leicester striker James Scowcroft will definitely start for Town in place of Kuqi against in-form Preston, who are unbeaten in nine league games.

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