Kuqi revelling in Town's success

Ipswich Town loanee Shefki Kuqi declared today: "The spirit in our camp is unbelievable."The 26-year-old Finnish international is revelling in what he has found to be a real blue heaven at Portman Road.

By Dave Allard

Ipswich Town loanee Shefki Kuqi declared today: "The spirit in our camp is unbelievable."

The 26-year-old Finnish international is revelling in what he has found to be a real blue heaven at Portman Road.

The big centre-forward from Sheffield Wednesday goes out against Gillingham on Suffolk soil tomorrow thirsting for another good show.

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The three-goal Kuqi, who has been part of a meteoric Blues rise up the league table, insisted: "It doesn't matter who scores as long as we keep going.

"Everyone is working so hard. It's been wonderful to have moved up the table like we have and great to be part of it."

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It is just over a month ago that Kuqi arrived from Hillsborough to join an under-achieving Blues side that were third from bottom of the First Division. Now they are seventh after a five-game winning run that was followed by a good 1-1 draw at Preston last Saturday.

"It's been marvellous, so marvellous to be a part of it. I know I've only been here just over a month, but the way things have turned out and the way I've been helped to settle in, makes it feel as though I've been here for much, much longer."

What happens when the initial three-month loan deal period is up remains to be seen.

"We'll have to wait and see," he says. "All that matters is now. I'm enjoying my football so much. To play Premiership football here would be great, but there is such a long way to go.

"This is just a great thought at the moment. I just take each game as it comes at a club I'm delighted to be at. Everyone has been so friendly towards me."

Kuqi is enjoying his front partnership with eight-goal Spaniard Pablo Counago and he continued: "I love the way it works between us. He is such a skilful player to play alongside."

So far Kuqi has hit two of his goals away, at Watford on his debut and the winner at Crystal Palace.

His home score was in the 6-1 triumph over Burnley.

Tomorrow at Portman Road he goes for another in front of the big home support and he added: "The atmosphere they create is so special. The fans here really help the team."

Town will have an unchanged starting line-up, but striker Alun Armstrong will

not be on the substitutes' bench as he has sustained a bruised calf in training.

Experienced defender John McGreal, who has had two reserve games after a long lay-off, may be back in the squad. But if not, then teenager rearguard man Scott Mitchell will be in the party.

Gillingham player boss Andy Hessenthaler, a midfield player. is likely to be out with a back injury. Danny Spiller is likely to come in.

At Preston last Saturday Town came back to draw 1-1 after going behind.

In the previous game they went 2-0 down at Crystal Palace to eventually win 4-3 with Kuqi hitting a dramatic last-gasp winner at Selhurst Park.

Manager Joe Royle says that he and his coaching staff have been working on ways of getting the team off to a better start.

Tomorrow's squads

Ipswich: Davis, Wilnis, Richards, Naylor, Santos, Wright, Magilton, Bart-Williams, Westlake, Kuqi, Counago, Bowditch, Nash, Miller, McGreal or Mitchell, Price.

Gillingham: Brown, Hills, Hope, Ashby, Cox, Shaw, Southall, Smith, Hessenthaler, Nosworthy, Wallace, Mamady, Sidibe, Perpetuini, Spiller, Bossu.

Referee: Mark Cooper (West Midlands).

Ipswich Town

record v Gillingham

Overall: P14 W4 D9 L1 F23 A12. At home: P7 W2 D4 L1 F15 A7.

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