Joe: Make it eight
IPSWICH go into battle at Preston tonight with boss Joe Royle predicting: “It won't be a 0-0 draw.”That forecast underlines Royle's determination to come away from fortress Deepdale, where the Lilywhites have been beaten just twice in 16 league games this season, with a maximum haul of three points.
IPSWICH go into battle at Preston tonight with boss Joe Royle predicting: “It won't be a 0-0 draw.”
That forecast underlines Royle's determination to come away from fortress Deepdale, where the Lilywhites have been beaten just twice in 16 league games this season, with a maximum haul of three points.
And it will be music to the ears of Sky Sports and their armchair audience of millions, who will be hoping the in-form sides serve up an entertaining goal feast.
Championship leaders Ipswich will move eight points clear of closest rivals Wigan and Sunderland if they can beat fourth-placed Preston.
And Royle promised: “We are not going there to defend and look for a point. This is a game we want to win and we will tackle it accordingly.
“I am still not happy with the amount of games we have won on our travels this season and this would be a great time to improve our away record.
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“We have scored more goals away from home than anyone else and Preston are a team in form, so that's why I am saying it doesn't look like being goalless tonight.”
Injury doubts over Kevin Horlock (shoulder) and Dean Bowditch (foot) evaporated, as expected, before the squad's afternoon departure for Lancashire yesterday.
A voluntary training session was scheduled for their hotel HQ this morning, but Royle said players could stick to their normal match-day preparation if they wished.
He added: “I am not planning anything more strenuous for the lads than a brisk walk - they don't need to work any more on their fitness at this stage.”
Town will show at least one change, with on-loan striker James Scowcroft replacing injured top scorer Shefki Kuqi alongside Darren Bent up front.
Experienced midfielder Horlock will have to wait before learning if he will start, or whether he will be on the bench for the third game running.
Preston have been rocked by a training ground injury to England Under-21 goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, who has been ruled out for a minimum of six months with knee ligament damage.
The incident happened yesterday, but manager Billy Davies has decided against signing a replacement.
Either Gavin Ward or Jonathan Gould will be in goal tonight and youngster Chris Neal has been recalled from his loan spell at Tamworth.
Preston were beaten 3-0 at Portman Road at the end of October, but since then have lost just three times in 16 league outings and are currently unbeaten in nine.
Davies, who took charge when ex-Scotland boss Craig Brown departed just five games into the season, is forced to make one other change to his regular line-up.
American winger Eddie Lewis was sent off for two bookable offences in last week's 2-1 win at QPR and is automatically suspended from tonight's game, with Scottish international Callum Davidson his likely replacement.
Davies has hinted at “freshening up” his side and admitted: “We have been watching certain players because this is a long, hard season and we've been asking a lot of them. I think this might be the right time, without giving any secrets away.”