Joe: I feel for Pablo

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today expressed sympathy with goal-shy top scorer Pablo Counago and admitted: "I've been there myself."Royle recalled his time at Bristol City, towards the end of his playing career, and said: "I went about 12 or 14 games without scoring – and the goals seemed to get smaller with every game I played.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today expressed sympathy with goal-shy top scorer Pablo Counago and admitted: "I've been there myself."

Royle recalled his time at Bristol City, towards the end of his playing career, and said: "I went about 12 or 14 games without scoring – and the goals seemed to get smaller with every game I played."

Eventually, however, ex-England striker Royle managed to find the net and he is convinced that

Counago's confidence will also return.


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The former Spain Under-21 international's latest blank, in Saturday's 2-0 home win over Preston, means he has managed just one goal in his last eight appearances.

And 12-goal Counago is likely to be axed from the starting line-up at Stoke tomorrow night, with Finnish ace Shefki Kuqi available again having served his one-game ban at the weekend.

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Counago failed to grab his chance against Preston, eventually being substituted just ten minutes into the second half.

Royle said: "I really feel for Pablo at the moment. I actually thought about taking him off at half-time on Saturday.

"Things are just not going his way and it has happened to all of us at some stage of our career. At his best he is a massive plus for us, as we all know.

"Strikers get measured in goals, but it's also a confidence thing with Pablo. He needs a goal – one where the ball hits one post and rolls along the line to the other before he sticks it away from six inches would do him fine. He'd be on his way again.

"I have nothing but sympathy for him, but there's no magic remedy. He just has to keep doing the right things and eventually it will turn."

Royle has no fresh injury worries ahead of tomorrow's trip to the Potteries, to face a Stoke side beaten just once in their last 11 league games.

The result apart, there were several plus points for the Town boss at the weekend – not the least of which was a rare clean sheet.

It was Ipswich's first in ten games and only their fifth in the league this season, but Royle spotted plenty of other positives.

He added: "Matt Richards showing he is returning to form and I thought it was Tommy Miller's best game of the season for us.

"Fabian Wilnis was back and had no problems after his shoulder injury, while John McGreal was impressive at the back and Georges Santos was at his best.

"Maybe we didn't hit it off up front, but our strength all season is that we have never been reliant on any one player hitting the target.

"We are the First Division's leading scorers, without a real leading scorer if you like, which shows a good spread of goals from all round the team."

Kuqi for Counago is likely to be fourth-placed Town's only change for tomorrow's game at the Britannia Stadium.

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