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Royle: It's win or bust

PUBLISHED: 17:20 02 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:44 02 March 2010

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today looked ahead to Sunday's home clash with promotion favourites West Bromwich Albion and admitted: “We have to win.”

Royle knows that performances and results have not always tallied in what has been a topsy-turvy season for his side, currently just one point behind the play-off pace.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today looked ahead to Sunday's home clash with promotion favourites West Bromwich Albion and admitted: “We have to win.”

Royle knows that performances and results have not always tallied in what has been a topsy-turvy season for his side, currently just one point behind the play-off pace.

He said: “At this stage of the season it has to be about results first and foremost. There isn't time now for it to be any other way.

“There have been too many occasions this season when we have performed well and not been rewarded with a result. It's now too late in the season for that to continue.”

Royle is adamant that Ipswich can secure what would be a significant victory, since it would also deal a major blow to second-placed Albion's hopes of clinching an automatic promotion place.

Despite being forced to operate with a depleted squad, his confidence in leading Ipswich back to the Premiership has rarely, if ever, wavered.

He added: “I am always confident and I really believe that when we are at our best there is no better side in this division.

“Now there are seven games left - four at home and three away - for us to prove, at the very least, that we are one of the best six sides at this level.”

Unless Royle feels the urge to reshuffle his pack, perhaps with Albion's robust style in mind, he could name an unchanged side for the third game in a row.

Midfield pair Tommy Miller and Jermaine Wright are expected to have recovered from ankle knocks, while strikers Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi emerged unscathed from international duty in midweek.

Royle said: “Tommy hasn't trained all week until today, but we always knew that would be the case. There are no new problems and a number of senior players did well in the reserves the other night. They are all in the running for Sunday.”

The Town manager is loathe to label the game as a revenge clash, although he does not deny he is still feeling the hurt from the 4-1 away defeat inflicted by Albion in September.

He said: “They sent us to the bottom of the table that day and while I never thought it was really a 4-1 game, that's what the scoreline said.

“A win on Sunday would be great for everyone, but it would be especially nice for the fans after taking a bit of a pummelling up there. You'll see a game of contrasting styles.”

Albion will have to succeed where they have failed in their last 12 visits, dating back 21 years, if they are going to collect all three points from a Portman Road league meeting between the sides.

Town have won ten and drawn two of the dozen clashes since Albion secured a 4-3 win in September 1983.

The Baggies are confident that striker Geoff Horsfield, who missed last week's 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace, will be fit for the trip to Suffolk.

Elsewhere in the promotion race, rivals Sunderland and Millwall meet on Sunday in an FA Cup semi-final that few could have predicted.

Town will probably be playing catch-up by the time they kick off against Albion, since seventh-placed Wigan will be strong favourites to see off rock-bottom Wimbledon at the JJB Stadium tomorrow.

The Latics, who also have a game in hand on Ipswich, cannot afford to drop points to a side whose defeat by Royle's men six days ago was their 11th in a row.

Sixth-placed Sheffield United, another team Town have in their sights, are at home to a Nottingham Forest side who have improved under new boss Joe Kinnear, although they remain just three points above the drop zone.

Reading, two points behind Ipswich, take on fourth-placed West Ham at the Madejski Stadium at lunchtime tomorrow in a game where the preferred result from Town's point of view would be a draw.


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