Jon relishing chance

IPSWICH new boy Jon Walters is relishing the chance to pierce the Championship's meanest defence tonight.Walters, 23, has never played at the Britannia Stadium, where Tony Pulis' promotion chasers have leaked just eight goals in 14 league games this season.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH new boy Jon Walters is relishing the chance to pierce the Championship's meanest defence tonight.

Walters, 23, has never played at the Britannia Stadium, where Tony Pulis' promotion chasers have leaked just eight goals in 14 league games this season.

He said: “I've only ever been there once, in my days as a young player at Blackburn, when we went along to see the first team game.


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“But if I get a chance tonight I will be doing my very best to take it with both hands. This is a brand new start for me and the sooner I play the better as far as I am concerned.

“I am really pleased to be an Ipswich player. It's very exciting for me. I've done a bit of training, but I'm here to play and can't wait for my opportunity.

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“Stoke are one of the biggest, strongest teams at this level and the fact they tend not to concede a lot of goals at home is a real challenge to us.”

Town boss Jim Magilton is refusing to reveal what he has in mind for Walters, who completed his move from Chester on Friday and was a spectator at the following day's FA Cup home win over Swansea.

Concern over Alan Lee's hamstring, and whether Saturday's penalty hero can cope with another game so soon, could see Walters plunged in from the start.

Irrespective of the extent of his involvement tonight, Walters is determined to repay Magilton and Ipswich for the faith they have shown in him.

He added: “You are always looking to improve as a player and you can't afford to stand still. This is a big, big move for me.

“The gaffer hasn't said much about my role in the team but I've only just arrived. I haven't had a chance to speak to many of the lads either.

“It's like that when you move. It takes time to find your feet and get to know everyone, but I know I'm going to love it here.”

Ipswich, seeking a fourth successive win for the first time under Magilton's management, welcome back recent recruit David Wright after his one-game ban.

But Alex Bruce is completing a two-game suspension and Richard Naylor remains doubtful with a badly bruised big toe.

Should Naylor fail to make it, Magilton has confirmed that Fabian Wilnis, who scored in the corresponding fixture last season, will captain the side in what will be his 300th appearance for the club.

Midfielder Owen Garvan, who was 19 yesterday, would welcome a start after he came off the bench for the last 20 minutes against Swansea.

Ipswich have only managed one win in their last nine visits to Stoke, a Mauricio Taricco goal proving enough to earn all three points in March 1997 at the Victoria Ground.

Last season's 2-2 draw, after they had streaked into a two-goal lead inside the first 18 minutes, earned them their first point in four trips to the Britannia Stadium.

Seventh-placed Stoke have doubts over the fitness of both Andy Griffin (groin) and Dominic Matteo (thigh) while skipper Michael Duberry is the subject of a transfer inquiry from Reading.

SQUADS

STOKE: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Duberry, Higginbotham, Griffin, Lawrence, Russell, Matteo, Martin, Fuller, Sidibe, Wilkinson, Diao, Rooney, Eustace, Pericard and Sweeney.

IPSWICH: Price, Wright, Naylor, Wilnis, Harding, Peters, Williams, Legwinski, Roberts, Lee, Clarke, Sito, Casement, Garvan, Richards, Haynes, Walters and Supple.

Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear).

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