Royle: Let's pass Preston off the park

PASS masters Ipswich aim to close the gap on play-off rivals Preston to just two points by beating them tomorrow.

PASS masters Ipswich aim to close the gap on play-off rivals Preston to just two points by beating them tomorrow, writes Mel Henderson.

Boss Joe Royle said: “We will continue to pass the ball as we have done all season and I believe it will be a good game between two sides who like to play that way.

“We have dominated possession in recent games and all we need is a cutting edge to go with it.”

Royle is hoping that Alan Lee, Jimmy Juan and Fabian Wilnis will be fit and is prepared to wait until the last minute before naming his

starting line-up.

Lee (hamstring) and Juan (groin) have both been absent from the last two games, while Wilnis is nursing a knee

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problem after colliding with team-mate Richard Naylor in last week's home win over Leicester.

All three are included in an 18-strong squad that also contains on-loan Blackburn defender Jay McEveley, who has been sidelined since suffering a knee ligament injury in November that saw him undergo surgery.

While fitness tests may be required tomorrow morning, Royle will let the players decide whether or not they are going to play and McEveley is only likely to be pressed into action as a substitute if there are a couple of late call-offs.

Royle said: “Both Alan and Jimmy trained yesterday and I am sure Jimmy will be fine. With Alan I am hopeful, no more than that.

“Fabian's knee was still swollen yesterday but we are hoping he can train today. This is nothing new - we have been plugging holes in the dyke all season.”

If Lee doesn't make it, Royle confirmed there would be a chance of Richard Naylor being asked to revert to an attacking role.

He added: “In the event of Alan not being fit Fabian will hold the key to my team

selection, so it's pointless

speculating at this stage.

“But whatever team I pick this is our biggest game in a long, long time. We've had a great run - just one unlucky defeat in ten games - and we have given ourselves an

outside chance of making the play-offs.

“This would be a great game to win and there is massive belief and desire within the squad.”

Preston have lost each of their last two outings, an FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Middlesbrough and last week's visit to Championship leaders Reading, where they surrendered their 22-game unbeaten league record.

And they will definitely be without four defenders -

skipper Chris Lucketti, who is injured, and the trio of Youl Mawene, Callum Davidson and Matthew Hill, who are all

serving one-game bans.

Deepdale boss Billy Davies is still hoping to bring in a new face on loan. He has already made a number of calls without success but has pledged to continue and he has until noon tomorrow to complete a deal.


PRESTON: Nash, Alexander, Mears, Davis, O'Neil, Sedgwick, McKenna, Neal, Whaley, Nugent, Agyemang, Ormerod, Dichio, Hibbert, Parillon, Baker, Beattie and Ward.

IPSWICH: Supple, Wilnis, Naylor, De Vos, Barron, Juan, Magilton, Garvan, Currie, Westlake, Richards, Lee, Haynes, Sito, McDonald, Brekke Skard, McEveley and Price.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).