Joe's rallying call

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle has urged his players: “Make it a good start to the season.”Town have kicked off the new campaign with a win, a defeat and a draw, giving them four points from a possible nine.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle has urged his players: “Make it a good start to the season.”

Town have kicked off the new campaign with a win, a defeat and a draw, giving them four points from a possible nine.

But victory on Saturday, when newly-promoted Sheffield Wednesday are the visitors to Portman Road, would put a far healthier complexion on things.

Royle said: “We have not had a bad start, but there is no doubt that a win this weekend would turn it into a good start.

“Apart from one half at QPR, we have defended well and we have two clean sheets, which is a huge positive.

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“Clearly, we are not as potent going forward as we have been in the past, but I am sure that will come.

“Basically, we are doing things slightly in reverse this season, but if it means having a sound defensive base I don't mind at all.”

Royle is encouraged by his new-look side's recent run, as well as by the fact that some of the more fancied sides have made stuttering starts.

He added: “I must admit I am slightly surprised by the results of Crystal Palace and Norwich, two teams I expected to do well.

“They have not really clicked yet, which is good news for the rest of us. I expected them and Wolves to be very powerful.

“I felt it would be a tougher Championship and I think there are strong signs that is going to be the case.

“I can see more contenders for the two automatic promotion places and, therefore, getting into the play-offs could be that much more difficult.

“But we are within touch of the top, just three points away, and if we can beat Wednesday I will be satisfied with the start we will have made.”

One of the game's most experienced managers, Royle knows that little can be read into a league table after just three rounds of fixtures.

But he admitted: “The fact that no one has gone clear is a big, big bonus, but it is still very early and there is plenty of time for sides to put a good run together.

“Our lack of goals isn't a huge concern, especially when we have been defending so well.

“Don't forget, we have two new front players and apart from having a goal apiece they have both been working very hard for the team. Behind them, Dean Bowditch looks sharp as he waits for his chance.”

Turning his attention to the weekend, Royle reported that goalkeeper Lewis Price is making excellent progress after being substituted in the first half at Leicester with a gashed knee.

Skipper Jim Magilton is expected to overcome an inflamed toe to line up against his former club, but there remains a doubt over the fitness of striker Nicky Forster.

The ex-Reading star, whose goal on the opening day secured victory over Cardiff, has fluid on a knee that is causing some concern.

Royle added: “Nicky is seeing a specialist today. It's just a check-up, to make sure there is nothing untoward and hopefully he will be fine.”

But vice-captain Jason De Vos is still not ready after he suffered two broken ribs in the first game of the season.

Royle explained: “He is looking at Saturday week and the game at Millwall as a realistic target for his comeback.

“But at least he has been able to do some light training in the gym - not a great deal, but it's a start.”

Defender Mark Fish, who appeared in the first half of Town's defeat at QPR last week, has decided to quit football. The South African international, who was signed on loan from Charlton, failed to reappear after the interval at Loftus Road because he was lacking in terms of fitness. Royle said: “Mark wasn't right and he was big enough to admit he wasn't right. We all wish him well in the future.”