Price expected to return

IPSWICH goalkeeper Lewis Price looks certain to play in the weekend clash at Reading.The 21-year-old's international heartbreak continued as he was ruled out of Wales' World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan at the Millennium Stadium this evening.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH goalkeeper Lewis Price looks certain to play in the weekend clash at Reading.

The 21-year-old's international heartbreak continued as he was ruled out of Wales' World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan at the Millennium Stadium this evening.

Price had a hip injury that also kept him out of Saturday's game against Northern Ireland in Belfast, so he is still waiting to win that elusive first senior cap.

Town boss Joe Royle said: “As far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong with Lewis, but we will obviously know more when he gets back here.

“To be honest, I thought he would probably play tonight and I am hoping it is just a precaution that he has been left out.

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“Our goalkeeping coach, Andy Rhodes, flew over to Belfast at the weekend with a view to seeing him play but discovered he had failed a fitness test.

“But I have spoken to both Andy and our physio, David Williams, and Lewis trained without any problems on Monday and Tuesday.

“If he is not playing for Wales tonight I can only assume it's because he hasn't been selected, because we are not aware of any injury that would keep him out.”

Ipswich's only casualty is long-term injury victim Ian Westlake, although there is encouraging news of the industrious midfielder who was expected to be sidelined until Christmas.

Royle said: “Ian started light training yesterday, so he is a bit ahead of schedule although he still has a protective brace on the ankle.

“In horse racing terms I suppose he's doing no more than a gentle gallop. He is still weeks away from being fit again, but we might have him back earlier than we thought.”

Royle is spending his day off in his native north west, where he will be signing copies of his recently-published autobiography in Manchester and Liverpool.

Last night he brought out the crowds for a session in Oldham, where he is still revered for his successful spell as manager between 1982 and 1994.

He will be back in Ipswich tomorrow morning, when preparations for Sunday's live-on-Sky game against the Championship's second-placed team will start in earnest.

His biggest decision will be regarding fit-again striker Nicky Forster, who is desperate to make the starting line-up against the club he quit in the summer.

Royle added: “Nicky is chomping at the bit after a hat-trick for the reserves on Monday but he's still not fully match fit.

“I'll be chatting to him and the medical people, but it's great to have Nicky back with us again. His return to the squad has made everyone feel better.”

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