Naylor: We'll put it right

RICHARD Naylor today assessed Ipswich's indifferent start to the season and insisted: “It's not all doom and gloom.”Town hit rock bottom in losing 3-2 at Derby last weekend and the long-serving star endorsed boss Joe Royle's view that a major improvement is required against Cardiff City at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

RICHARD Naylor today assessed Ipswich's indifferent start to the season and insisted: “It's not all doom and gloom.”

Town hit rock bottom in losing 3-2 at Derby last weekend and the long-serving star endorsed boss Joe Royle's view that a major improvement is required against Cardiff City at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Naylor, at 27 the club's longest-serving player, said: “Nobody is making any excuses for our display at Derby. It wasn't acceptable and we have to put it right as soon as possible.

“But if you look at our start to the season overall, it's not all doom and gloom. It's a bit of a mixed bag - some good spells, some not so good and then Derby, when it was pretty bad.”

Naylor - nicknamed Bamm-Bamm by Blues' fans for his wholehearted style - has pinpointed one key area in which Ipswich must improve if they are to at least emulate last season's play-off finish.

He added: “We are like all the teams at this level, searching for a bit of consistency, but we simply have to be better at home.

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“It is important that we don't lose as many times at Portman Road as we did last season.”

Town were beaten eight times at home last season, as were relegated Walsall, and Naylor maintained: “If you win the bulk of your home games and nick points away, the very least you are going to achieve is a place in the play-offs.”

Naylor understands why fans' expectancy was high going into the new season, since Town had defeated Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Osasuna in warm-up games. But he also pointed out that the team's four-point haul represents twice as many as they had accumulated from double the number of games last term.

He continued: “It all evens itself out over the course of the season and you finish exactly where you deserve to finish.

“We are a young team and young players strive for consistency. I remember what it was like when I first came into the team a few years back.

“I had lads like Mogga (Tony Mowbray) egging me on and helping me. Now it's me trying to encourage the likes of Matt Richards alongside me.”

Ex-striker Naylor added that he is still coming to terms with the positional switch triggered by manager Royle soon after his arrival at the club almost two years ago.

He said: “I am still learning the position and this season, because Jason De Vos has come in, I'm on the left side. I've never played there before, so it's something new again.

“Jason is good to play alongside. He's big, dominant and a good talker, which is a part of my game that I'm working to improve.”

Whether De Vos will occupy his regular place tomorrow remains to be seen. He must decide if he is going to continue playing with the stress fracture that ruled him out of Canada's midweek defeat by Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier.

Captain Jim Magilton, absent from Town's first three games with a torn thigh muscle, is likely to be involved after getting a full week's training under his belt.

If De Vos, who was injured in the pre-season win over Osasuna but has a 100 per cent league record, decides to rest his right leg, it will open the door for Fabian Wilnis to make his first start of the current campaign.

The Dutchman will fill the right-back role, with Drissa Diallo moving into the middle of the defence to partner Naylor.

Matt Richards, who opened up an old ankle wound as he made his England Under-21 debut in midweek, expects to be fit.

Ever-present Cardiff pair Danny Gabbidon and Robert Earnshaw, along with Paul Parry, were withdrawn from the Wales squad in Latvia in midweek.

Striker Alan Lee also pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad for the visit of Bulgaria, but all four are expected to be included in the Bluebirds' 16.

Cardiff boss Lennie Lawrence must decide whether to give a debut to ex-Wimbledon right-winger Jobi McAnuff, a recent £250,000 signing from West Ham.

The 22-year-old appeared as a substitute in the Hammers' opening day goalless draw at Leicester and also came off the bench at Portman Road in May for the first leg of the play-off semi-final.

But just 14 appearances, one goal and six months into his Upton Park career he was allowed to move on, with Lawrence admitting he had him in his sights for 18 months.

And McAnuff is expected to be preferred to Richard Langley, who has been away with the Jamaica squad.

SQUADS

IPSWICH: Davis, Wilnis, Diallo, De Vos, Naylor, Richards, Miller, Magilton, Horlock, Dinning, Westlake, Bent, Bowditch, Kuqi, Counago, Mitchell, Barron, Murray, Price.

CARDIFF: Margetson, Weston, Page, Gabbidon, Vidmar, Robinson, Kavanagh, Bullock, Langley, Earnshaw, Lee, McAnuff, Croft, Campbell, Collins, Parry, Warner.

Referee: Phil Joslin (Newark).

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