Joe: I love Cup magic

JOE Royle, proud to be the last English manager to win the FA Cup, today declared: "It's the greatest club competition in the world and I love it."The Ipswich Town boss, whose team kick-off the 2003 campaign with a third round tie against Conference minnows Morecambe at Portman Road tomorrow, said: "People in African villages listen for word of the FA Cup, so do folk in the desert.

By Dave Allard

JOE Royle, proud to be the last English manager to win the FA Cup, today declared: "It's the greatest club competition in the world and I love it."

The Ipswich Town boss, whose team kick-off the 2003 campaign with a third round tie against Conference minnows Morecambe at Portman Road tomorrow, said: "People in African villages listen for word of the FA Cup, so do folk in the desert. It's known world-wide."

Royle led former club Everton to victory over hot favourites Manchester United at Wembley in 1995 when a goal by striker Paul Rideout gave the men from Goodison Park the coveted trophy.

Since then the winning teams have been managed by non-English managers in Sir Alex Ferguson of United, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea), Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and Liverpool's Gerard Houllier.

"It's pleases me no end to think that I was the last English manager to win it and I'd love to do it again at Ipswich. This is the aim when you start out and who knows?" said Royle.

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"Tomorrow we start off on the trail again and we'll be giving Morecambe every respect. We'll be fielding our strongest available side.

We certainly won't be taking them lightly."

As manager at Oldham, Royle was a beaten semi-finalist twice, losing both times to Manchester United.

As an Everton player he was in the Toffees team beaten by West Bromwich Albion at Wembley in the 1968 final.

Royle has injury and absence headaches ahead of tomorrow's match with Jim Harvey's side from Lancashire.

Central defenders Thomas Gaardsoe and Chris Makin will be missing after being part of the New Year's Day home win over Millwall.

Gaardsoe is sidelined with a groin injury and Makin begins a two-game suspension.

Midfield man Tommy Miller, who hit two goals in the 4-1 victory over Millwall, is ruled out with knee trouble. Fellow midfielder Jim Magilton is not being considered as he is being allowed compassionate leave.

The reason is an illness to a member of his wife's family on Merseyside.

Striker Marcus Bent, who came on as a substitute to score against Millwall, is under treatment for groin trouble.

Added to the squad are Alun Armstrong, the front man who has been undergoing specially intensive fitness training and the free-transfer listed midfielderFinidi George. Dutch schemers Martijn Reuser and Nabil Abidallah, together with teenage defender Matt Richards, are also included.

Due to the central defensive worries, Royle is likely to play striker Richard Naylor in central defence.

Last month the Town boss said he felt Naylor may turn out to be a regular central defender at the club, and he played well at the back in a home reserve win over Tottenham.

Gaardsoe is disappointed to miss out as he has been defending stoutly and scored with successive headers against Portsmouth, Leicester and Walsall.

The former Danish Under-21 international said: "I got the groin trouble in a pre-season tour match and came off straight away. I did the same against Millwall when I felt it. It's important not to do more damage. I'd love to play against Morecambe, but the important thing is to be fit for the league game at Burnley tomorrow week."

THE SQUADS

IPSWICH: Marshall, Wilnis, Hreidarsson, Holland, Clapham, Counago, Naylor, M Bent, Ambrose, Wright, D Bent, Reuser, George, Armstrong, Richards, Abidallah, Pullen.

MORECAMBE: Mawson, McKearney, Swan, Bentley, Colkin, Elam, Stringfellow, Drummond, Thompson, Rigoglioso, Carlton, Murphy, Talbot, Morgan, Rogan, Curtis.

n Royle today played down transfer speculation following the re-opening of the transfer window.

He said "We may be vulnerable but this is not January give-away time. There have been a few enquiries, mainly for loan deals that would not interest us."

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