McGreal: It's test Brom!

IPSWICH defender John McGreal today looked ahead to the weekend clash with in-form West Bromwich Albion and predicted: “It will be our toughest test of the season.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH defender John McGreal today looked ahead to the weekend clash with in-form West Bromwich Albion and predicted: “It will be our toughest test of the season.”

The Midlands outfit, relegated from the Premiership last term, are bang on course for a return to the big-time.

Albion, on the same points as First Division leaders Norwich and separated by just four goals, have won their last four games.

Victory at Portman Road on Sunday will equal their best sequence this season, the 4-1 victory over Town at The Hawthorns in September earning them a fifth successive league win.

McGreal, 31, said: “I honestly believe they will be our toughest test of the season.

Most Read

“I didn't play in the game up there, but by all accounts we got well and truly beaten by a very good side. They are not losing many games and seem to be on a roll at the moment.

“But we have everything to play for - the next seven games will decide whether we make the play-offs and it's vital we get something in each one.”

A hat-trick of consecutive victories over Walsall, Watford and Wimbledon, in which they scored nine times, has re-ignited Ipswich's promotion push.

McGreal, who has recovered from a knee injury to partner on-loan defender Matt Elliott in Town's last two outings, looked ahead confidently to a game being broadcast live by Sky Sports.

He added: “It's a massive game for us. But the spirit is really good in our camp at the moment, especially with the way the last three games have gone.

“I know these teams are fighting to avoid relegation, but they were still games that had to be won.

“We have put in good performances, which has given us a massive boost. Now we will be looking to take our form into what will be a tough test this Sunday.”

McGreal, one of several Town stars whose current contracts expire in the summer, is not setting any end-of-season points target.

Over the last ten years the team occupying the last play-off position has often accumulated as little as 71 points, but never more than 76.

But McGreal admitted: “It could be as high as the high 70s in terms of points needed for sixth spot and that would be unheard of. All we can do is keep getting results and not worry about other sides.

“We can't rule anything out at this stage of the season because we have some tough games coming up. Teams down as far as mid-table still fancy the play-offs, so we have keep pushing.”

Ipswich's path to victory at the weekend will be blocked by defender Thomas Gaardsoe, who departed Portman Road on the eve of the season and just weeks later headed the opening goal in the 4-1 defeat of his former side.

McGreal added: “When Thomas went to West Brom the supporters were gutted, but we had to sell him.

“We played alongside each other a handful of times, although he did also play as a sweeper for a while. He wasn't really in the side when George Burley was here but he blossomed when Joe (Royle) took over.

“I was injured for much of last year so we only played a handful of games together. We're not in touch personally, but I know some of the lads are and I know he'll be up for it.

“He's used the move as a springboard. He's played for Denmark, he's captained West Brom and now it looks like he'll go up to the Premiership with them.”