Naylor's a talisman for Town

RICHARD Naylor has become Ipswich's lucky mascot as they look to blaze a trail towards the play-offs.Just call him the Town talisman, because the flame-haired star has yet to appear in a losing side this season.

By Mel Henderson

RICHARD Naylor has become Ipswich's lucky mascot as they look to blaze a trail towards the play-offs.

Just call him the Town talisman, because the flame-haired star has yet to appear in a losing side this season.

Played 11, won six, drawn five – that's his record after Wednesday's late point-saving header against Wolves at Molineux.

It is some achievement since it seemed Leeds-born Naylor, who was 26 last week, had no future at the club he joined straight from school ten years ago.

He was pleasantly surprised to hear the statistics, admitting: "I knew I hadn't suffered many defeats at first team level this season, but I hadn't realised just how good my record actually was."

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Naylor is in no doubt as to what has triggered the turnaround in fortune – a change of manager at Portman Road.

He said: "Towards the end of George Burley's time he made it clear I wasn't really part of his plans, but since Joe Royle took over I've become far more involved.

"I wasn't enjoying the fact that I wasn't wanted here, but when other clubs were looking to take me on loan I kept saying no because if at all possible I wanted to make a go of it at Ipswich."

Naylor may not have been able to hold down a regular place, but he is grateful for the opportunities that have come his way since Royle's arrival back in October.

He is also glad to be injury-free after three knee operations and another on his ankle, sidelined him for long spells.

"I have really struggled in the past, especially with my knees," he added. "It has hampered my career and it's good to be able to look to the future."

But it is an uncertain future, given that his Ipswich contract expires in the summer and he is taking a realistic view of the situation.

Colleagues Fabian Wilnis, Mark Venus and Jim Magilton are all in the same boat and Naylor said: "None of us know how things are going to work out with the club in administration.

"It's impossible to say what will happen. There's no way of knowing whether or not the club will be in a position to offer us anything. We'll just have to wait and see.

"There is no point in me looking very far ahead. Hopefully my injury problems are behind me now and the only thing in on my mind is doing my best for the club while I'm here."

Mention of the play-offs evokes memories of Wembley 2000, when Naylor was one of Town's heroes as he scored the second goal in the memorable 4-2 win over Barnsley.

He smiled: "It would be great to make the play-offs again. We have some really important games coming up and I'm looking to be involved as much as possible."

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