Mahon suffers flu blow

ALAN Mahon's comeback hopes have had to be put on hold.A dose of flu has jettisoned the on-loan Blackburn star's bid to prove his fitness in tonight's reserve game at Portman Road.

ALAN Mahon's comeback hopes have had to be put on hold.

A dose of flu has jettisoned the on-loan Blackburn star's bid to prove his fitness in tonight's reserve game at Portman Road.

Had Mahon played and not suffered any recurrence of his hamstring injury he was hoping to put himself in contention for a return to first team action against Sheffield United on Saturday.

But that is highly unlikely given Mahon has ruled himself out of tonight's second string fixture against Portsmouth (kick-off 7pm).

Town boss Joe Royle admitted: "Alan desperately needed this game. We had hoped it would be a 24-hour thing but he's no better today.

"The very best he could hope for is to be on the bench at the weekend, but that's unlikely. He really needs to get a game in first.

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"He would have been in contention – there's no doubt about that – but we would need to fall down in a considerable number of other places for him to be on duty on Saturday."

Mahon, a huge success since arriving from Ewood Park in September, limped off just 12 minutes into the televised home clash with Stoke City exactly a month ago.

He has missed Town's last four games, when they captured just five of the 12 points available to them and had been pencilled in for a return at the weekend.

But that plan has had to be scrapped after illness struck the 25-year-old former Republic of Ireland international.

The good news for Ipswich, however, is that his three-month loan deal has been suspended until he is fit to return and complete the maximum permitted spell of 93 days.

Meanwhile, five players who could all be on the bench for Saturday's visit from the second-placed Blades are in tonight's starting line-up.

It is not inconceivable that goalkeeper Will Price, defender John McGreal, midfielder Martijn Reuser and strikers Alun Armstrong and Dean Bowditch will all be substitutes.

Thoughts that McGreal may have to sit out tonight's game because of an injury sustained in training have been dispelled.

Royle said: "John was caught just above the shin guard in an innocent tackle with Darren Bent. It is more of a small gash rather than a cut, but while it's quite deep there are no stitches and he'll be fine."

Although nine-goal top scorer Pablo Counago will be absent on Saturday due to a hamstring strain, Richard Naylor and Chris Bart-Williams will return after serving one-game bans.

Tonight's Town squad: Price, Hogg, Barron, Mitchell, McGreal, Collins, Reuser, Abidallah, Armstrong, Bowditch, Flack, Morrow, Supple, Synott, Atay, Manning.

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