Royle being picky over loan

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today reaffirmed his faith in his promotion-chasing squad.Royle is still on the trail of loan targets he feels would reinforce Town's chances of regaining Premiership status in three month's time.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today reaffirmed his faith in his promotion-chasing squad.

Royle is still on the trail of loan targets he feels would reinforce Town's chances of

regaining Premiership status in three month's time.

But even if he fails to land the players on his shortlist, the Ipswich manager's confidence in his present squad remains unshakeable.

He said: "I am still speaking to other clubs about players I would like to bring in on loan and I am still hoping we can do something.

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"There is always a chance that something could happen before the weekend, but it is by no means certain.

"I am probably just being extra picky about what we need, but we're not down to the stage where we need to bring someone in and just hand him a squad number.

"Even if there are no new faces around when we meet Wigan on Saturday, I would still be

confident of putting out a team capable of beating them."

While Ipswich still have to count the pennies, the ambitious Latics are bankrolled by multi-millionaire chairman Dave Whelan, head of the JJB Sports empire.

Sixth-placed Wigan are on the same points tally as Town, who are fifth by the most slender of margins since their goal

difference is one better.

But the fact that opposite number Paul Jewell appears to have an open cheque book, while Royle is reliant on finding loan recruits, does not frustrate the Portman Road boss.

He added: "It is what it is. I knew the score when I came here.

"To be honest, it is probably worse than I expected – but I think it's worse than we all expected.

Wealth

"Wigan have the wealth of Dave Whelan behind them and they realise, as all clubs do, that it's a great year to have a go because the league is so wide open."

Jewell is trying to sign ex-Town loanee Alan Mahon from Blackburn and is not put off by Rovers' £750,000 asking price.

He has refused to confirm that the former Republic of Ireland international is his main target, but he has admitted that recruiting a left-sided player is his number one priority.

Jewell said: "The player I thought we were going to bring in last week is someone who is a natural for that role and I'm still interested in him.

"I just need to find out whether he's back in his manager's plans and therefore out of our reach. That player is one of two that we are chasing right now and hopefully we'll have some success."

Meanwhile, calf injury victim John McGreal is a doubtful starter for Saturday's live-on-Sky fixture, which kicks off at 5.35pm.

Royle, who is already without right-back Fabian Wilnis, said: "Johnny Mac must be rated very doubtful unless there is a big turnaround in the next 48 hours.

There is better news, however, of Chris Bart-Williams (back) and Tommy Miller (thigh), with Royle optimistic about the pair's chances.

The Town squad are training late tomorrow afternoon as a way of preparing themselves for Saturday's tea-time slot.

Royle added: "It's not a three o'clock kick-off but that's the way it is. We can't complain if we want the money."

Town, whose games against Watford and West Bromwich Albion later this season are also being broadcast live, will pocket £60,000 each time.

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