Pablo to get his chance

PABLO Counago has a chance to show manager Joe Royle that he means business when Ipswich Town take on Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow night.

PABLO Counago has a chance to show manager Joe Royle that he means business when Ipswich Town take on Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow night.

The Spaniard, who will be 25 next month, will play up front when the Blues continue their pre-season friendlies against Coca-Cola League Two Oxford.

Counago confirmed in Saturday's Evening Star that he has every incentive to score goals this term and that he wants nothing more than to do well for Ipswich.

"My contract ends next summer and it will hard for me to get another one if Ipswich are not in the Premiership," he said. "I want to play my part in the club gaining promotion."

Town's biggest earner Counago has looked out of sorts in training and did not impress in games against Peterborough, Randers and Aalborg over the last nine days.

Royle plans to use him tomorrow, probably at the expense of Richard Naylor.

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"At his best Pablo can be a big asset to us," said Royle, who had his players back training at the club's Playford Road training ground this afternoon following their return from Denmark Saturday night.

"He will have a chance to show us at Oxford what he can do. He looked a bit sharper when he came on against Aalborg and hopefully Pablo can help get us back on the goal trail after a couple of barren matches.

"He played his part last season when we were the division's top scorers."

Royle confirmed that he has a couple of players in mind that he wants to bring in to strengthen his staff – but as things stand he must release players first.

"I know who I would like to sign to make us a bigger force up front – players with a better ability to hold the ball."

Naylor partnered Darren Bent up front in the starting line-up against Aalborg in the 2-0 defeat on Friday, but Royle sees the club's longest serving player more as a central defender.

Naylor, after years wearing the number 12 squad number, has been handed the number six shirt this term.

"Richard can play in attack, but his best position is at the back," added Royle, who has decided not to take on midfielder Mark Rivers.

Royle told Rivers of his decision on their return from the pre-season trip on Saturday. Although the former Crewe Alexandra and Norwich City winger showed glimpses of what he is capable of during three 45 minute spells and in training sessions, it was not enough to convince Royle to sign him.

Royle said: "It was hard for Mark as he is behind with fitness and we needed somebody to make a quick impact as I have other players in mind to bring in."

Rivers left City by mutual consent ten days ago and had hoped to secure a long-term deal with Town.

He said: "I was virtually left out in the cold in the last three months at Norwich last season.

"It was nice not to be training on my own last week. I need time to regain my sharpness and am not really fit, but I have worked on that and will get better. I would have to have signed for Ipswich, but now I must look elsewhere "

Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis has every chance of playing in goal at Oxford after jarring his back in the warm-up before the Aalborg match.

"It was a precaution to sit it out," he said. "We trained in the morning and then sat on a coach for an hour or so before going straight out to warm up. I have to be careful with my back, and it was best to rest."

Deputy Lewis Price came in and did well and if Davis does not make tomorrow's match Shane Supple will be promoted from the academy side as cover.

Oxford drew 1-1 with Chelsea on Saturday and are one of the former clubs of Town skipper Jim Magilton.

Former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosovic has signed for Spanish club Osasuna who Ipswich entertain in their final pre-season match on Monday August 2.

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