Joe: We will get better

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today promised supporters: “We will get better.”The Town chief is backing his players to recover from their recent depressing run, which has seen them take just two points from a possible 12.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today promised supporters: “We will get better.”

The Town chief is backing his players to recover from their recent depressing run, which has seen them take just two points from a possible 12.

Royle insisted: “It is not all negative. We are just as in touch with the play-offs as we are with the relegation zone.

“We are looking upwards, not over our shoulders, and I am sure we will start to climb the table when we are over our injuries and get our full side back.”

But the midfield injury jinx has struck again in advance of tomorrow night's trip to Derby, who are four places below Town in the Championship table.

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On-loan Monaco player Jimmy Juan joined the casualties after a freak accident in training yesterday which resulted in a gash to the inside of his mouth that required several stitches.

Juan came off worst in an accidental clash with long-term absentee Ian Westlake, who was returning to training for the first time since suffering an ankle injury that has forced him to sit out Town's last ten games.

Experienced midfielder Kevin Horlock will still be absent at Pride Park but Royle is hopeful that teenager Owen Garvan will return after missing the last two games with an ankle problem.

There remains a question mark about the fitness of striker Nicky Forster, who recently returned from a cartilage operation but missed Saturday's 1-1 draw at Brighton after suffering a reaction.

Royle said: “Nicky is desperate to play but we won't take any chances. We have to consider whether it would be better for him if he didn't play at Derby and was stronger for our next game at home to Plymouth on Saturday.

“It is a 46-game season - plus play-offs that we hope to be involved in - and when we have to play three games in seven days there are two or three players who find it hard.

“Even Arsenal and Chelsea rest players in similar circumstances and one of our main problems has been that some of our fittest players have been injured.”

But no matter the starting line-up at Derby tomorrow, Royle is in upbeat mood as a minority of fans continue to vent their frustration in the direction of him and chairman David Sheepshanks.

The Town boss, who recently celebrated the third anniversary of his appointment, added: “I came here to lead this club back into the Premiership and the ambition has not changed.

“I love the club and I love the area. Yes, of course I get a little bit frustrated at times. The job description has changed - there are times when I have felt more like a liquidator than a manager.

“That's not a complaint, but that is what it has required. There's no set formula, but this is a great job and I am working for people I trust.

“When I came here the feeling was that we had to sell one player but unfortunately we fell over the precipice and we kept finding financial black holes with no way out of it.

“Everyone knows we have been forced to sell players, or allow players to depart, but I am still very proud of what has been achieved in very difficult circumstances.

“The board have said they have total faith in me and I have a very special working relationship with the chairman, who is taking some undeserved stick at the moment.”

Royle's record as Ipswich manager shows 72 wins, 38 draws and 48 defeats from his 158 games in charge.

A young Town reserve side trounced their Watford counterparts 8-1 at Portman Road last night. Canadian winger Jaime Peters claimed a hat-trick and another teenager, Billy Clarke, netted twice, with Liam Craig, Aidan Collins and an own goal completing the rout. Keeper Shane Supple, 18, was also celebrating after saving a penalty from 38-year-old former England star Les Ferdinand.

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