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Royle eyes return of Pablo

PUBLISHED: 07:55 28 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

PABLO Counago is ready to help fire Ipswich into the Premiership.

The Spanish hit-man is back on the fitness trail and boss Joe Royle admitted today: “We want him fit for the play-offs!”

Not that Royle is taking anything for granted - he was simply underlining his determination to lead his side to a top six finish and then welcome 12-goal Counago back into the fold.

PABLO Counago is ready to help fire Ipswich into the Premiership.

The Spanish hit-man is back on the fitness trail and boss Joe Royle admitted today: “We want him fit for the play-offs!”

Not that Royle is taking anything for granted - he was simply underlining his determination to lead his side to a top six finish and then welcome 12-goal Counago back into the fold.

Royle added: “Pablo is on his way back. He is training with fitness coach Simon Thadani and we envisage him being able to rejoin the squad next week.

“His hamstring injury is in the past and but for picking up a groin strain, which was annoying for him and us, he would have been almost fit by now.

“The important thing is that he is making progress and stepping up his training. We want everyone fit and ready for the big push.

“As things stand we have a two-game season and a one-point start - then, hopefully, it's the play-offs.”

Counago, 24, has had a miserable time of it lately, missing the last nine games with a hamstring injury sustained in a reserve game against Derby.

That came just days after he made his last first team outing, when he was a 71st minute substitute in the East Anglian derby defeat at Norwich.

Before that he had been axed from Royle's starting line-up as his form dipped and he has not scored since mid-January, in the 6-4 home win over Crewe.

If Town win at Sheffield United on Friday and then take maximum points from their final fixture at home to Cardiff on Sunday week, they are guaranteed a top-six finish.

But anything less than victory at Bramall Lane will ensure the scrap goes right to the wire.

“Friday's game is double-edged,” added Royle. “We can put one foot in the play-offs if we win it and also virtually end United's own hopes of being there. From their point of view they need to win.”

Midfielder Tommy Miller remains doubtful with the hamstring injury that saw him sit out Saturday's home defeat by Nottingham Forest.

But although Jim Magilton came off second best in his tussle with Paul Evans, forcing him to leave the field with stud marks on his left thigh, Royle remains hopeful that his skipper will be fit in time.


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