Keep it clean, says Royle
BOSS Joe Royle has urged Ipswich to become a mean team for the rest of the season.Royle wants his table-topping side to boost their number of clean sheets during the run-in as they seek to make their promotion dream come true.
BOSS Joe Royle has urged Ipswich to become a mean team for the rest of the season.
Royle wants his table-topping side to boost their number of clean sheets during the run-in as they seek to make their promotion dream come true.
But he doesn't want them to lose their reputation for playing exciting, attacking football that has so far reaped handsome dividends.
Town are the highest-scoring team in the entire Football League, with 56 goals, while only managing seven defensive blanks in their 30 league outings so far.
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Last season they managed just six in the entire league programme of 46 games, but the arrival of Jason De Vos and his blossoming partnership with Richard Naylor has helped to improve matters.
Now, Royle believes the capture of ex-England star David Unsworth, nicknamed Rhino for his rumbustious style, will also help to keep opposition strikers at bay.
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Royle said: “David is a player I worked with at Everton and he's one I have never forgotten. We were together when he won his England cap and it was fully deserved.
“I know it was a decade ago, but he played a great part in the revival at Goodison that saw us win the FA Cup in 1995 and finish sixth in the Premiership the following season.
“Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see us keep as many clean sheets as possible through to the end of the season.
“If we can keep the opposition out and Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi continue to do the business at the other end of the pitch, we're not going to be far away.”
Chorley-born Unsworth is delighted at the prospect of resuming his working relationship with Royle, who he rates as the best manager he has played for during a career launched in April 1992, when Howard Kendall gave him his Everton debut and he was a scoring substitute in a 3-3 draw at Leeds.
The powerful defender has so far shunned interview requests, preferring to stay tight-lipped until the necessary paperwork to make him an Ipswich player is completed, after which he will be pleased to go public with his thoughts about dropping out of the Premiership for the first time.
Unsworth will make his debut when Town travel to promotion rivals Sheffield United tomorrow week, having had a full week's training with his new colleagues, refreshed after their six-day stint in Tenerife, under his belt.
Fears that Unsworth was facing a suspension were quickly dispelled when it was confirmed he has already served a one-game ban for collecting five yellow cards this season.
He is injury-free, too, having fully recovered from the hamstring problem that kept him out for five weeks around the turn of the year.
n Town have announced that the FA Youth Cup fifth round game at home to Aston Villa will be played at Portman Road on Wednesday, February 16 (kick-off 7pm).