IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today demanded that his team take collective responsibility for their lack of goals.Town go into tonight's home clash with fourth-placed Southampton seeking to avoid a fourth successive defeat.
IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today demanded that his team take collective responsibility for their lack of goals.
Town go into tonight's home clash with fourth-placed Southampton seeking to avoid a fourth successive defeat.
They also failed to find the net in losses to Yeovil, in the Carling Cup, Preston and Sheffield United, so can ill afford another blank against a Saints side beaten just once in eight outings this season.
The last time Town scored at Portman Road was against Sheffield Wednesday on August 20, when Ian Westlake grabbed the decisive goal in his side's 2-1 win.
Royle said: “Our lack of goals is not just down to the forwards. I am looking for a bigger contribution all round.
“We are missing Nicky Forster, there's no doubt about that, and Sam Parkin has been toiling away on his own.
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“We are looking for Dean Bowditch to get among the goals and it would be nice if the midfield weighed in with one or two as well.”
Despite his team's recent depressing run, Royle insists the spirit within the camp remains upbeat.
He added: “We've got to be a little bit careful. People are talking doom and gloom, but we are only four points off second place and we have two home games this week in which we are looking to improve our position.
“The last couple of games have been disappointing, but we had a weakness at the back against Preston with players missing and it was always going to be difficult at Sheffield United, the league leaders and a club who have been spending a lot of money.”
Ipswich have also suffered more than most on the injury front, with Royle highlighting the fact that the current season's problems already outweigh those suffered during the entire 2004-2005 campaign.
Forster and Westlake will still be absent this evening, while Spanish full-back Sito also misses out through suspension after being dismissed at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
But on-loan defender James McEveley is likely to overcome his injury worries in time, leaving captain Jim Magilton as the only doubt.
The experienced midfielder is still troubled by an arthritic toe and Royle said: “I won't know until later in the day whether the skipper will make his second game in three days.”
Fabian Wilnis will replace Sito and Irish youngster Owen Garvan is perhaps the most natural choice as midfield playmaker should Magilton not be passed fit.
Royle added: “Despite our problems, we are still very positive and looking forward, but there has to be a little bit of patience.
“I think the fans understand our situation. We are on our third team in three years and they have been fine until now.
“But I also understand that they want to see us win well at home and that is what we are all striving to give them tonight.”
One thing Town and Saints have in common is that they are blooding home-grown youngsters to help plug gaps in their squads.
The departure of senior stars, often through financial necessity, has opened the door for several kids who participated in last season's two-leg FA Youth Cup Final between the clubs.
Goalkeeper Shane Supple and midfielder Owen Garvan have been given debuts by Ipswich boss Royle, while Aidan Collins has added to the solitary appearance he made in the final game of the 2002-2003 campaign.
In addition, youngsters Chris Casement and Danny Haynes have figured in the Town senior squad for the first time, while Darryl Knights had already played first team football by the time he collected his FA Youth Cup medal.
Down on the south coast, meanwhile, Martin Cranie, Nathan Dyer and Theo Walcott have all enhanced their reputations at first team level after coming off second best in the top youth competition just four months ago.
IPSWICH: Price, Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, McEveley, Peters, Magilton, Horlock, Currie, Garvan, Bowditch, McDonald, Parkin, Richards, Juan, Haynes and Supple.
SOUTHAMPTON: Niemi, Hajto, Lundekvam, Powell, Higginbotham, Kosowski, Oakley, Quashie, Belmadi, Fuller, Ormerod, Cranie, Wise, Delap, Walcott, Dyer and Smith.
Referee: Phil Joslin (Newark).