Magilton sad to see players depart

NICHOLAS Bartlett, a 15-year-old pupil of St Albans Roman Catholic School in Ipswich, has been on work experience with Star Sport. Here Nicholas, a Portman Road season ticket holder, grills Ipswich Town skipper Jim Magilton.

NICHOLAS Bartlett, a 15-year-old pupil of St Albans Roman Catholic School in Ipswich, has been on work experience with Star Sport. Here Nicholas, a Portman Road season ticket holder, grills Ipswich Town skipper Jim Magilton.

EVERY player has his price. That's the stark warning from Ipswich Town captain Jim Magilton for Town fans before the big kick-off against Reading.

The former Northern Ireland inter-national, who was capped 49 times for his country, scoring five goals, said on the selling on of players: "It's a sign of the times after the bottom fell out of the transfer market.

"The club still has financial worries and any offer that comes in from any club will have to be considered. Until someone in authority says that the club is stable then we will have to expect the possible departure of players."

Players that have left Portman Road over the past year include Matt Holland and Hermann Hreidarsson to Charlton, Darren Ambrose to Newcastle, Marcus Stewart to Sunderland, Mark Venus to Cambridge, Matteo Sereni to Lazio and Thomas Gaardsoe to West Brom, while Finidi George was released from his contract.

"Seeing players depart is very sad but I am confident that we still have excellent players in our side," said Magilton.

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To cover for the departures, manager Joe Royle has signed Kelvin Davis, George Santos and Drissa Diallo from Wimbledon, Grimsby and Burnley respectively on free transfers and Belfast-born midfielder Magilton believes that they have all fitted into the side exceptionally well.

He added: "The three new players have settled in very comfortably at the club. The tour of Scandinavia has helped them work with the current crop of players.

"I didn't play in the friendlies because of fitness levels but there were plenty of goals because of the fact the strikers played excellently.

"The Levski Sofia match will also be a big test for the new players, as it will be their first full match at Portman Road. Levski are a top Bulgarian team and we expect them to keep possession well.

"It will be a good fitness test for all of our players and a chance for our new players to adapt."

After previous captain Holland's departure, Magilton was summoned by manager Royle to become Town's new captain as he has experience in the role at international level.

"I haven't really had much advice from any other players about captaincy. I find that players have their own way of captaining on the pitch.

"Matt (Holland) came to see us before he went to Charlton, but he didn't give me any advice. He wished us luck for the new season and that was it."

The 34-year old has also named his main three targets for the forthcoming season.

"My targets are to stay fit, stay in the side and to set an example for the other players with my style of play. The club's target is, of course, promotion, which I believe we could get."

Promotion can only occur if players excel in their roles, and Magilton has a shrewd idea who will do this next season.

"Pablo will become an even bigger star for the club. He has adapted very well with the other players in the squad.

"Alongside him the Bent duo will also do very well, and I am expecting plenty of goals from those three. We are very optimistic, because we have a very talented squad who are hungry for success.

"Our weak link last season was at the other end of the pitch, with the defence leaking goals. The new signings should shore up this part of our play, which is very important."

Magilton has had an illustrious career which has seen him wear Liverpool, Oxford United, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday shirts, but he knows which is his favourite club.

"Without question Ipswich are the best side I've ever played for. As soon as I walked through the door, I felt at home.

"Marcus Stewart was definitely my favourite player at the club. He scored plenty of goals and is very talented. We'll be playing against him this season when we face Sunderland, so that will be

interesting."

When asked to name the best player he's ever played with he answered, "Matt Le Tissier was fantastic during my days at Southampton. He played just behind the strikers and could easily create and score goals. The position he played at Southampton really suited his style of play."

Even though Magilton is enjoying his career at Town he is not looking too far into the future.

"I'm not even thinking about whether I want to be offered another contract at the club once this one expires. Once you have placed pen to paper on a deal you just start the job in hand.

"I feel privileged that I do have a contract here and that I am captain. I hope that I maintain the standard of playing that I have achieved for the team. It will be nice to continue as captain for another season or two, but that is totally up to the manager."

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