Royle's fingers crossed for McGreal

JOHN McGreal can tonight put himself on the threshold of a long-awaited Ipswich Town comeback.The 31-year-old central defender goes out to get in more reserve action at Watford with a possible First Division return just around the corner.

By Dave Allard

JOHN McGreal can tonight put himself on the threshold of a long-awaited Ipswich Town comeback.

The 31-year-old central defender goes out to get in more reserve action at Watford with a possible First Division return just around the corner.

The suspension of in-form defender Richard Naylor for the visit to Derby on Saturday week makes the fitness of McGreal especially significant.

Last December he sustained a serious knee injury in a game at Brighton. Following this have been lengthy hamstring and back worries.

Manager Joe Royle admitted today: "One or two people have been very worried about John at times since that initial injury at Brighton last December.

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"At last he's free from problems and it's great to see him with a smile on his face once again.

"It's been such a barren ten months for him and, with Richard Naylor's suspension at Derby coming up, the continued progress of John is extremely important."

This importance is emphasised by the fact that Drissa Diallo, a first team regular centre-half earlier in the season, is still not ready for action even in the reserves after his knee injury.

On top of that Chris Makin, a full-back or centre-half, remains on the treatment table after a bad groin injury.

Royle continued: "John McGreal is an excellent player. He never had a bad game for me between the time I arrived here a year ago and when that injury struck in the game at Brighton.

"John still has a lot to offer at this club. He's had a terrible time and now the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter."

McGreal played for an hour of last Wednesday's reserve game at home to Derby and Royle is hoping that he may get in over 70 minutes tonight.

Midfield man Tommy Miller, who has been coming on as a first team substitute after a long-term ankle injury, will play a half at Vicarage Road.

He will be eyeing a return to the starting line-up at Derby as Chris Bart-Williams will also be serving a one-game ban.

Dutch international Martijn Reuser comes back to action at Watford after his lengthy lay-off with a groin injury.

The promotion-chasing Town

senior squad were today at the

seaside. Boss Royle took them to Felixstowe for some walking, running and jogging along the beach.

The Town reserve squad for tonight is: Price, Mitchell, Barron, Murray, McGreal, Nash, Abidallah, Bloomfield, Miller, Flack, Peat, Beveridge, Craig, Knights.

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