Magilton handed captain's armband

JIM Magilton has today been given the captain's armband by Ipswich Town boss Joe Royle.This is in stark contrast to Magilton's future at the club just 12 months ago when former Blues manager George Burley offered him a free transfer.

By Georgina James

JIM Magilton has today been given the captain's armband by Ipswich Town boss Joe Royle.

This is in stark contrast to Magilton's future at the club just 12 months ago when former Blues manager George Burley offered him a free transfer.

The midfield maestro takes over the responsibility following the departure of Matt Holland to Charlton in the summer for £750,000.

The 34-year-old, who is no stranger to the responsibility having captained his Northern Ireland side before, said it was a great start to the season for him.

"I am delighted to take on the responsibility of skippering the team," said Magilton.

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"It's a real privilege to play for such a great club as Ipswich Town and to be asked to lead the team is a big honour.

"Now I can't wait for the season to start and take on the challenge of getting this club back in the Premiership where it belongs."

Royle's decision to award Jim the captaincy comes after the 34-year-old agreed a new one-year contract.

The former Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday player said: "I have played the best football of my career at Ipswich Town and it's the best club I have been at."

Magilton, who has made more than 50 appearances for Northern Ireland, joined Town in March 1999 for an initial fee of £682,500.

Meanwhile Royle said he is looking forward to meeting up with his players for pre-season training tomorrow.

The Blues boss has outlined his blueprint for training and said he was hoping for a good start to the new campaign.

Royle and assistant manager Willie Donachie, together with the coaching staff, will link up with the players tomorrow morning to put them through their paces.

"Fitness checks start tomorrow and we will be concentrating on that area for the rest of the week.

"We will then move on to the more serious stuff of defending, followed by attacking in that order.

The likes of Fabian Wilnis, Jim Magilton, John McGreal, Chris Makin and Alun Armstrong have been putting in extra training sessions throughout the summer.

"It's exceptionally good to see they are so serious and keen," said Royle.

The experienced manager believes the key for the club's promotion bid this season rests in the team defending better. He said: "Our record last year shows that we don't have a problem scoring goals but defensively we were weak at times."

In a bid to bolster the defensive frailties Royle's first signing as manager was that of powerful centre half Drissa Diallo from Burnley. Speaking about the Guinean international Royle said: "He is a strong defender and had an outstanding debut against Ipswich last season.

"He was desperate to come here and play. Burnley are distraught they have lost him but it's our gain. He's a good addition to the club."

Diallo will not meet up with his new team-mates until next week. He has been given an extended break because he is getting married on July 5 in Guinea. "He only misses a few days and I couldn't stop the lad from getting married," joked Royle.

The Ipswich manger said he was excited about meeting up with his players after the two-month break.

"We've had a good long rest which was much needed after a hard season. Both the players and fans needed it.

"We've had a fantastic response through the turnstiles already in season ticket sales.

"The club is viable again and everybody is looking forward the new campaign," said Royle.

Darren Bent and Dean Bowditch will not join the squad tomorrow as they also have permission to return late following their international duties.

Magilton, Richard Naylor and Fabian Wilnis are all expected to sign new one-year contracts this week.

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