Naylor's return up front put on ice

JOE Royle today revealed that Richard Naylor would have played up front if this afternoon's Championship match at Preston had gone ahead.And the Blues manager also hinted that loanee Ricardo Fuller is likely to stay at Portman Road for longer than the initial one-month agreed with his parent club Southampton.

By Elvin King

JOE Royle today revealed that Richard Naylor would have played up front if this afternoon's Championship match at Preston had gone ahead.

And the Blues manager also hinted that loanee Ricardo Fuller is likely to stay at Portman Road for longer than the initial one-month agreed with his parent club Southampton.

“Alan Lee would not have been risked, and I would have asked Richard Naylor to play up front alongside Danny Haynes,” said Royle.

“The postponement gives us longer to get Alan fit.”

Fuller will now serve his one-match suspension - after collecting five bookings - in the home league game against Millwall next Saturday.

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By the time he is eligible for Town's game at Crystal Palace a fortnight today his loan period - delayed by work permit problems - will be over.

Royle said: “This is the situation at the moment, but we will see where we stand in the middle of the month. Ricardo did very well on his debut against Leicester City.”

Fabian Wilnis and Jimmy Juan would both have been fit to play at Deepdale after overcoming injuries to their knee and groin respectively.

The Preston pitch had been covered all week, but when local referee Graham Salisbury was called in to inspect at 3pm yesterday he gave the thumbs down.

Heavy snow had hit Lancashire in the latter part of the week and temperatures were below zero with worse weather forecast.

Preston play Plymouth on Tuesday and three key players will now serve one-match bans in that game - Youl Mawene, Matthew Hill and Callum Davidson.

On top of this key defender Chris Lucketti would have missed out today through injury.

“I can understand that some people might look upon the decision as a bit suspicious,” said Royle. “But I am not one of them.

“Preston will be happier to play a weakened team against a side like Plymouth than one like us who could pip them for a play-off spot.

“But I know from my sons who live in the north west that the weather was bad yesterday, and although I am disappointed I am not raging.”

It is many years since Preston, who do not have under soil heating, last called off a home game, while the last Ipswich match to be affected by the weather was a League Cup tie at Maine Road, Manchester City in December 2000.

A cloudburst just prior to kick-off forced saw referee Graham Poll halt proceedings after 20 minutes, with Town winning when the match was re-played.

Preston general manager Ben Rhodes said that Town fans would not now be making an unnecessary journey.

He said: “We wanted to make an early decision before the Ipswich team and fans set off on a long trip.

“We know how we felt after making a long journey to Plymouth earlier in the season only to find the game off.”

Royle has given his players the weekend off, while Town fans will be able to use their tickets when the match is replayed.

This will be midweek later in the season with the clubs expected to announce a date next week.

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