Joe looks for hiccup cure

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle was today urging his promotion chasers to get rid of the hiccups."It's how we react that's important," says the Blues boss whose mid-table side take on third-placed Sheffield United at Portman Road tomorrow.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle was today urging his promotion chasers to get rid of the hiccups.

"It's how we react that's important," says the Blues boss whose mid-table side take on third-placed Sheffield United at Portman Road tomorrow.

Royle, who is planning at least one change to the starting line-up, saw his team lose 2-0 at Bradford in the league last Saturday and 4-3 against the Blades away in the FA Cup seven days before that.

"You could say we've had a bit of a hiccup," he said. "Now I'm looking for the right response from a team that had previously put together a good run.

"We need to come back strongly tomorrow and I'm thinking of freshening the team up a bit. I can't go into detail as I don't want to give the game away to Sheffield, but there will be at least one change."

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Darren Bent, the 11-goal striker who celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday, looks likely to be restored to the starting line-up and ten-goal midfielder Darren Ambrose, who will be 19 later this month, is also a strong contender.

Royle says that the players were a "notch or two down" in training yesterday following the death of Dale Roberts, the assistant manager who finally lost a brave fight against cancer.

"There was great sadness about the place, but the players are determined to get the sort of result that Dale would have wanted. They've shown great character for me before and can do so again.

"We've had a couple of bad results up in Yorkshire, but that's in the past now. We need to look

forward and I've every faith in my squad to come back in the right manner."

Injury-plagued striker Alun Armstrong is again struggling. He came off at half time in the reserve game at home to Fulham on Wednesday night complaining of tiredness.

The former Middlesbrough man has had sleepless nights since his wife Helen gave birth again.

Fellow frontman Richard Naylor should be ready for reserve action next Wednesday at home to Arsenal. However, a lack of

training due to a further bout of knee trouble rules him out of squad duty for tomorrow.

The same goes for midfielder Martin Reuser, who has had a hip problem.

Attacker Finidi George is training again after a thigh strain and John McGreal, the defender who has been out with a long-term knee injury, is in training also.

United are out to get back to winning ways too. They lost 1-0 at Millwall last Saturday.

Manager Neil Warnock and his squad will be flying direct to East Anglia after a break in La Manga. Skipper and central defender Graham Page will be back in action after suspension.

Warnock, the January manager of the month for the Nationwide First Division, said: "We go into the Ipswich game in the right frame of mind. We were a bit flat at Millwall and the break can give us the ideal preparation."

THE SQUADS

IPSWICH: Marshall, Wilnis, Hreidarsson, Holland, Gaardsoe, Makin, Magilton, Wright, Miller, M Bent, Counago, D Bent, Ambrose, Richards, Abidallah, Pullen.

SHEFFIELD UNITED: Kenny, Jagielka, Page, Murphy, Quinn, Tonge, Brown, McCall, Ndlovu, Kabba, Windass, Mooney, Thompson, Harrison, Kozluk, Peschisolido.

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