Magilton eyes end to goal drought

SKIPPER Jim Magilton would love to grab a rare goal to coincide with his 250th Ipswich appearance against visiting Sheffield United tonight.You have to go back to September last year - and the 2-1 win at Watford - for the last time the midfield ace hit the net.

SKIPPER Jim Magilton would love to grab a rare goal to coincide with his 250th Ipswich appearance against visiting Sheffield United tonight.

You have to go back to September last year - and the 2-1 win at Watford - for the last time the midfield ace hit the net.

Magilton, 35, has not netted in his last 53 games and only Fabian Wilnis, with a run of 69 games, has fared worse in the scoring stakes.

The former Northern Ireland captain is hardly renowned for his marksmanship, having scored just 17 times in his previous 249 appearances for Town.

But Magilton has still played an inspirational part in his side's climb to second spot in the Championship, with a generous number of assists.

It has been that way ever since he arrived at Portman Road, initially on loan and then in a £682,500 deal from Sheffield Wednesday in March 1999.

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He said: “When you start out with a club you do not know if you will ever get that far and it is something I am extremely proud of.

“To reach 250 games at any club is a wonderful landmark and it is something very special.

“This club has been very good to me. I have enjoyed it here and the fans have been fantastic with me. This is by far the best club I have been at and I have really enjoyed it.”

Second-placed Town will be seeking to extend their unbeaten league run to nine games against a Blades outfit sitting seventh after avoiding defeat in their last seven outings.

Blues boss Joe Royle is boosted by the return to fitness of Fabian Wilnis and Tommy Miller.

The pair sustained hamstring and calf injuries respectively in Saturday's 3-0 home win over Preston.

But Wilnis and Miller were today declared fit to start against the Blades.

That meant there was no place in the squad for first year academy kid Darryl Knights.

The young striker, who only left Chantry High School in the summer, had been on stand-by to join Royle's senior squad for the first time.

Royle said: “He has done very well and made a big impression in a short space of time.

“Darryl's very bright and was everyone's idea of our best player in last week's reserve game.”

Royle is expecting an open game and, bearing in mind past clashes between the sides, one full of incident.

He added: “We have had some real tussles with them even in my two years here. They are never dull games.

“They will come to win the game. They will fancy their chances and Neil Warnock will be telling his players 'You're the best at this level - go and prove it'.

“But we are second in the table and we are there on merit. We are aware of what is going on behind us but we are looking ahead and want to be first.

“And with just two defeats in our 16 league games so far we have certainly proved that we are a difficult side to beat.”

The Blades add Alan Quinn, one of three

ex-Sheffield Wednesday players in their squad, to the 16 on duty in last week's 3-2 win at Crewe.

Quinn has missed his side's last three games through suspension after being dismissed in last month's 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest.

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