Royle's strikeforce problem
JUST as three into two won't go at the top of the table, Ipswich boss Joe Royle faces a similar problem this weekend.Royle must choose his two-pronged strike force for Saturday's visit of in-form Nottingham Forest from a trio of candidates, with a giant question mark against out-of-form Darren Bent's prospects.
JUST as three into two won't go at the top of the table, Ipswich boss Joe Royle faces a similar problem this weekend.
Royle must choose his two-pronged strike force for Saturday's visit of in-form Nottingham Forest from a trio of candidates, with a giant question mark against out-of-form Darren Bent's prospects.
Fans will have to wait until just before kick-off on Saturday for Royle to reveal his hand.
Given his recent history, and the fact that time is running out on his Ipswich career, Spanish striker Pablo Counago is a rank outsider to start.
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That leaves 15-goal top scorer Shefki Kuqi and on-loan James Scowcroft, available again after missing last week's defeat at Wigan through suspension, to battle it out with Bent for places in the starting line-up.
The Town boss admitted: “I have been alternating the strikers in training this week, with a number of different permutations.
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“I would be fibbing if I said I didn't have a team in mind for the weekend. I'll look at it carefully over the next couple of days before going public with it.”
Royle must decide whether or not England Under-21 ace Bent, without a goal in his last six outings and replaced at half-time in the defeat at Wigan last weekend, would benefit from a rest.
He has netted 14 goals this season and Royle added: “We have a big decision to make.
“Darren has not been at his best. Then again, he is still a threat because he has enough pace for people to worry about him.
“It is a question of what is best for Darren and whether I feel he will benefit more from not being in the team from the start.”
One striker out of contention is 18-year-old Dean Bowditch, who yesterday rejected a loan switch to League One strugglers Oldham before agreeing to a one-month stint with Championship rivals Burnley.
Royle said: “When Burnley heard Deano had decided not to go to Oldham they came on to me to see if he would join them.
“He agreed because he feels the move can benefit him and that is exactly how I see it.
“It is purely experience from his point of view.
“This is not a loan move with a view to it maybe becoming permanent. We think the world of Deano and don't want to sell.
“He needs to get some games under his belt. There is no great substance to the reserve league, so playing
regularly in the Championship will be a lot better for him.
“In many ways Dean has been a victim this season. By and large, the first team have been doing well and that has restricted his opportunities.
“He hasn't been in great scoring form, but that could change at Burnley and then he could be back to play a part here before the end of the season.”
After yesterday's reserve game with Southampton was called off, Town have arranged a reserve friendly against Cambridge next Wednesday at their Playford Road training HQ.