Joe's Crewe warning

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today warned that Crewe will also be licking their wounds when they come to Portman Road at the weekend.While Royle watched Town lose 3-0 at Burnley on Tuesday, Dario Gradi was witnessing his own team's 4-0 demolition by Wolves at Gresty Road, when all the goals came in the first 35 minutes.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today warned that Crewe will also be licking their wounds when they come to Portman Road at the weekend.

While Royle watched Town lose 3-0 at Burnley on Tuesday, Dario Gradi was witnessing his own team's 4-0 demolition by Wolves at Gresty Road, when all the goals came in the first 35 minutes.

“It's an important match for both teams,” stressed Royle. “We will both be trying to get midweek defeats out of our systems.

“And bearing in mind what has happened in this fixture over the past two seasons I suppose a 0-0 draw is unlikely!”

Crewe's most recent two visits to Portman Road have seen them lose 5-1 and 6-4 - a remarkable tally of 16 goals in just 180 minutes of football.

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But neither side have found scoring easy this season, each netting only 10 times in 11 games up till now.

With that in mind, Royle may turn to fit-again striker Nicky Forster by naming him as a substitute for his first taste of senior involvement since August 13 and the 0-0 draw at Leicester.

Forster limped off after an hour at the Walkers Stadium and required a cartilage operation, and Town's lack of goals may prompt an earlier-than-expected return.

The ex-Reading and Birmingham player was pencilled in for a reserve comeback next week, but Royle confirmed: “There's a chance Nicky could be on the bench against Crewe.

“We're not looking beyond that at the moment. We're certainly not going to gamble - it will be a question of seeing whether Nicky is up to it or not.”

Meanwhile, Royle is unconcerned that the Championship's top two, Sheffield United and Reading, are pulling further away from the chasing pack.

He added: “I have always said that the top six, rather than the top two, represents the more realistic target for us this season.

“If the top two keep winning and extend the gap between themselves and the rest it means fewer points that the other teams around us can collect.

“We have had too much change to be automatic promotion candidates. Yes, we have some promising young players but when you put kids in the side it can be a case, literally, of boys against men.

“You need a balance and we have been affected by injuries and suspensions over the past few weeks.”

Town will be seeking their first win in five home league and cup games, having been beaten by Yeovil, Preston and Norwich, and held to a draw by Southampton.

But Royle pointed out: “We are going into it after taking three points from two away games. We could have drawn them both and taken just two points.

“Now, if we can beat Crewe, it will be six points out of nine and that won't be bad.

“But I'm a great admirer of Crewe and what they do there. They're a bit more direct than in bygone years, but they won't come down here to shut up shop.

“They have good footballers like Kenny Lunt and David Vaughan, and we need to carry more of a goal threat if we're going to get a win.

“Burnley couldn't get the ball off us in the first half on Tuesday, but the problem was that we never looked as if we would score.

“That's what we will be looking to change on Saturday. We must be more menacing in front of goal.”