Royle: It's in our hands
IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today surveyed the First Division table and insisted: “Our destiny is in our own hands.”Saturday's 2-1 away defeat of rock-bottom Wimbledon made it three wins in a row for eighth-placed Town and took them to within a point of top six trio West Ham, Millwall and Sheffield United.
By Mel Henderson
IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today surveyed the First Division table and insisted: “Our destiny is in our own hands.”
Saturday's 2-1 away defeat of rock-bottom Wimbledon made it three wins in a row for eighth-placed Town and took them to within a point of top six trio West Ham, Millwall and Sheffield United.
“We're not so far behind third spot either,” said Royle, while not losing sight of the fact that FA Cup semi-finalists Sunderland also have two games in hand on his own side.
The Town boss praised his players' gutsy response to a three-game losing run that put a giant question mark against their play-off credentials.
Having followed the three defeats by Stoke, Norwich and Millwall with wins over Walsall, Watford and Wimbledon, the mood at Portman Road is far more upbeat.
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Royle said: “I thought we were unfortunate to suffer three successive defeats, but you can't fault the spirit within the squad.
“We never seem to do things easily - that seems to be our way - but we have certainly put ourselves right back in there with a great chance.
“When you remember we have West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland still to come at Portman Road, and we have to play Sheffield United away, our destiny is back in our own hands.
“After that run of three defeats in a row we needed two things - to sort ourselves out and for other teams to do us a favour. But now it's down to what we do.
“This division is so tight that the top teams are not even averaging two points per game, but it would need a massive collapse by Norwich and West Brom for them not to claim the automatic promotion places.
“They have been the most consistent teams in the division - there's no doubt about that. They have successfully ground out results and must be strong favourites to stay where they are.”
Royle is particularly pleased that Town's off-the-field financial problems have not taken their toll on the team's promotion prospects.
He added: “If you look at the turnover in players here and what's happened at other clubs like Wimbledon, Bradford and Derby, we're doing okay.”
Town's next challenge could hardly be any tougher, title hopefuls West Brom heading for Portman Road on Sunday for a live-on-Sky clash that kicks off at 4pm.
“There could be no nicer game,” reflected Royle. “It was a defeat at The Hawthorns that left us bottom of the table back in September and we've come a long way since then.”
Injured trio Richard Naylor, Martijn Reuser and Alun Armstrong are expected to resume training this week and could play in Wednesday's reserve fixture against West Ham that is being played at Dagenham and Redbridge's ground.
But hamstring victim Pablo Counago is still struggling and will not be in contention for Albion's visit in six days' time.
Meanwhile, First Division leaders Norwich have already banked almost £4million in advance season ticket sales as supporters anticipate Premiership fare at Carrow Road for the first time in nine years.
Fans were given until March 7 to renew their seats at the cheapest available prices and 15,800 of them beat the deadline. The club have set a ceiling of 18,750 season ticket sales and are confident all will be snapped up by the next deadline in May. The Canaries have also cashed in on the 15 executive boxes in their recently opened new stand, selling them all on three-year leases.