Royle keen on McGreal steel

JOHN McGreal is back and itching to jump on the Ipswich Town promotion bandwagon.Delighted manager Joe Royle said today: "We need more clean sheets and John can help us so much in this regard.

By Dave Allard

JOHN McGreal is back and itching to jump on the Ipswich Town promotion bandwagon.

Delighted manager Joe Royle said today: "We need more clean sheets and John can help us so much in this regard. He's an excellent defender who never had a bad game for me here before getting injured.

"It's great to see him training full again. John has been missed. We need his vast experience at the back. He can help us so much."


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Thirty-year-old right side centre-half McGreal is set to a return for the reserves on Wednesday night against Arsenal at Portman Road.

It will be his first match action since sustaining medial knee ligament damage in the away league game at Brighton in mid-December.

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Royle continued: "John has been going well in training again after his long lay-off. I'm very hopeful that he'll play on Wednesday against Arsenal and then we'll be looking ahead as regards him for the Wolves visit in the First Division the following mid-week.

"John's return can be a major boost for us especially at a time when we are looking at having Hermann Hreidarsson out for three games with suspension. Our captain Matt Holland has been playing at the back. A return of John McGreal will mean that we can do more with him in midfield again."

Royle continued: "John is a key player who has done so well for this club in the past. It will be great to have him back and seeing him running freely in training again after a nasty knee problem is a big bonus."

Town, who have no game next Saturday as opponent Crystal Palace are in FA Cup action, picked up new knocks in Saturday's stirring 3-2 home triumph over Sheffield United at Portman Road.

Defender Chris Makin came off with an ankle injury and midfield player Jim Magilton with a bruised hip.

The Blues had striker Pablo Counago sent off early on and went to 2-0 down early in the second half. But they remarkably came back to triumph. Darren Bent hit two and Darren Ambrose the other.

The 26,151 crowd was the best of the day in the division and Royle said: "Our fans were fantastic. When we were 2-0 down they kept right behind us. The wonderful atmosphere generated by our supporters on Saturday helped us so much. Our crowd really enjoyed that great result and they deserved it."

THE Town pair of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose, who between them got the goals that shattered Sheffield United, are off to Italy today with England Under-21s.

Both are looking for their first caps in Carrara tomorrow night. Ambrose said: "Just being with the squad is a great experience. And of course it's great to have Benty with me as well."

The England Under-21 squad is: Ambrose, Bent (Ipswich), Grant (Derby), Murray, Lescot (Wolves), Taylor (Portsmouth), Samuel, Barry (Aston Villa), Clarke (Everton), Dawson (Nottingham Forest), McEveley (Blackburn), Carrick, Defoe (West Ham), Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Ameobi (Newcastle), Zamora (Brighton), Nolan (Bolton), Prutton (Southampton), Pennant (Arsenal).

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