Pablo: I'm here to stay

PABLO Counago, the darling of the North Stand, is not going anywhere.The 24-year-old Spaniard, who broke his duck for the season when he scored a penalty against Wimbledon at Portman Road on Saturday, is under contract to Ipswich Town until the summer of 2005.

PABLO Counago, the darling of the North Stand, is not going anywhere.

The 24-year-old Spaniard, who broke his duck for the season when he scored a penalty against Wimbledon at Portman Road on Saturday, is under contract to Ipswich Town until the summer of 2005.

And the striker, who was voted the boxholders' player of the year for 2002/03, has no intention of moving on after that.

He said: "I feel at home in Ipswich. The fans are very good to me and I feel wanted. It is too early to talk about new contracts, but I don't anticipate leaving."

While Counago may not be moving his abode, he is looking to make tracks on the pitch. And he had this message for Town fans: "I scored 19 goals last season and feel as though I can beat that this time around. I was unlucky in the early weeks of the season and scoring on Saturday was a big step for me.

"Strikers are meant to score goals and that is a big part of their game. But it is not an obsession for me as the main thing is for the team to be doing well.

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"Training has been going well and I am feeling good. The time is right for me to move up a gear and to make a bigger impact on English football."

Counago was replaced at half-time in the 4-1 defeat at West Brom on September 13 and he has been substitute for the last two games. Both times he came on during the second half and played havoc with Walsall and then Wimbledon.

"I can understand being substitute," added Counago, a former Spanish Under-21 international, who was signed from Celta Vigo in the summer of 2001. "This is all part of football.

"But the more time I get on the pitch the more chance I have of making an impression. Despite Marcus Bent leaving to join Leicester on loan, there is still competition for places up front at Ipswich. We have to keep on our toes.

"The Carling Cup is important to us. We have the ability to cause a surprise in the competition and it gives us a chance to play against Premiership sides.

"This happened last season and we were unlucky not to beat Liverpool in a memorable game at Anfield. If we can have more of the same this time it will be a big plus."

Counago, a big friend of Sixto Peralta when the Argentinian was at Portman Road in 2001/02, lives on his own. But his girlfriend Lara comes over from Spain whenever she can and some of Counago's friends also spend time in Ipswich from time to time.

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