Pablo set for Blues recall

PABLO Counago is poised to make a sensational first team return for promotion-chasing Ipswich at Leeds on Saturday.It will be only his fourth league start of the season - and his first since the 2-2 draw at Watford six months ago.

By Mel Henderson

PABLO Counago is poised to make a sensational first team return for promotion-chasing Ipswich at Leeds on Saturday.

It will be only his fourth league start of the season - and his first since the 2-2 draw at Watford six months ago.

I understand boss Joe Royle plans to turn to the Spanish striker Counago in a bid to end a lean spell that has seen Town fail to score from open play in their last four away games.

Counago, 25, impressed during a brief run as substitute in Sunday's 2-2 home draw with leaders Sunderland, laying on a late equaliser for Darren Bent that could yet prove vital as Ipswich look to overhaul second-placed Wigan.

A major clue to Royle's thinking is that Counago will sit out tonight's reserve clash with Chelsea at Portman Road.

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That suggests the former Spanish Under-21 star is earmarked for a starting role at Elland Road at the weekend.

Counago, who was criticised earlier this season by Royle, is set to leave at the end of the season when his lucrative four-year deal expires.

He was signed on a free transfer from Celta Vigo and is the last of the club's big earners from the Premiership, picking up a weekly wage of £20,000.

Scottish giants Rangers and Preston, who look set to claim a Championship play-off spot, both wanted Counago earlier this season - on trial and loan respectively.

He rejected both opportunities and has always insisted he wanted to stay with Ipswich and fight for his place.

But he has been a permanent substitute for the last six months, starting a total of five senior games, including two in the Carling Cup against Brentford and Doncaster.

He has also appeared off the bench on a further 14 occasions and has two first team goals to his credit.

He netted in the 2-0 home win over Millwall and in the 1-1 draw at West Ham, both back in September, and has also bagged seven goals for the reserves.

Meanwhile, James Scowcroft's search for a goal will continue in tonight's second string game, with Town also fielding senior stars Matt Richards, Drissa Diallo and Jimmy Juan.

Diallo is continuing his comeback, while the others need games in case they are required during the run-in.

Scowcroft has failed to find the net since returning on loan from Leicester in February. He has made three starts and a further four appearances as substitute.

Royle said: “Things haven't quite gone as well as James or the club would have wanted, but in fairness to him he has been carrying a groin strain.

“James isn't one for making a fuss - he just gets on with it - and I've been in the situation myself where you just want a goal.

“It would probably give James a real lift if he scored. He's like any striker having a bit of a lean spell - he is desperate for a goal.”

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