McGreal eyes Rams return

IPSWICH star John McGreal is eager to make a dramatic first team return at the weekend.The 31-year-old defender and Town boss Joe Royle are keeping their fingers crossed that he comes through tomorrow night's home reserve fixture against Nottingham Forest.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH star John McGreal is eager to make a dramatic first team return at the weekend.

The 31-year-old defender and Town boss Joe Royle are keeping their fingers crossed that he comes through tomorrow night's home reserve fixture against Nottingham Forest.

"I'm hoping I can get a full 90 minutes under my belt," declared the former Tranmere player, "then go straight into the first team squad for the game at Derby on Saturday.


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"I imagined it would take a lot longer than this to get back, but the situation we are in with injuries and suspensions has given me a chance.

"If all goes well tomorrow I'll definitely be ready at the weekend. Maybe I could have done with more games, but it's a chance and I mean to take it."

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That will be music to the ears of Royle, who faces a defensive dilemma with Richard Naylor serving a one-game ban at Pride Park and other possible replacements ruled out by injury.

Royle has considered drafting in a loan signing and today admitted: "I haven't totally ruled out that option.

"But Richard is only out for one game, Drissa Diallo and Chris Makin are both on their way back and there's also John close to full fitness.

"It is not an ideal situation. It would be a big decision to bring in a loan player – a really big call – and it might effectively be for one game only."

Town's league visit to Nottingham Forest on Saturday week is likely to be called off as a result of international call-ups for a quartet of the host club's players.

McGreal's injury problems started almost 11 months ago at Brighton and since then he has only managed one and a half first team games, both in February this year.

He added: "It's only really in the last three weeks that I've started to feel right. I've been training normally and playing in the reserves – 60 minutes in my first game and 80 in the second."

Royle said: "John is a very talented centre-half when fully fit and even if he's not quite 100 per cent at the weekend he can run on adrenaline for that one game.

"Equally, we wouldn't take any chances that might hinder his long-term fitness. We just have to see how he comes through tomorrow and go from there."

McGreal is not the only senior Town star looking to emerge unscathed from tomorrow night's reserve fixture.

Midfielder Martijn Reuser and strike pair Darren Bent and Alun Armstrong are all set to feature in the Ipswich line-up.

Royle said: "We must have had the youngest bench in the club's history against Gillingham on Saturday, but at least Tommy Miller came through so he's one we don't have to worry about.

"But we could certainly do with Martijn, Darren and Alun coming back to give us more in the way of attacking options."

Miller will make his first senior start since August when he replaces suspended loan star Chris Bart-Williams at Derby.

Ipswich will take on Leeds at Elland Road in the third round of the FA Youth Cup, with the hosts able to call on the services of first team stars James Milner and Aaron Lennon. Norwich have been drawn at home to Bolton Wanderers and ties must be completed by December 6.

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