Royle sets up test for Canadian

CANADIAN trialist Sandro Grande is under scrutiny by Ipswich today.The 27-year-old central midfielder, recommended by national coach and ex-Town player Frank Yallop, has already impressed in training.

CANADIAN trialist Sandro Grande is under scrutiny by Ipswich today.

The 27-year-old central midfielder, recommended by national coach and ex-Town player Frank Yallop, has already impressed in training.

But his big chance comes in a closed-doors game against Colchester United's reserves, when manager Joe Royle and his staff will have an opportunity to assess him properly for the first time.

Quebec-born Grande is a free agent but football rules mean he cannot sign for another club until the transfer window re-opens in January.

He holds dual Canadian and Italian nationality which, should Town want to make him a firm offer, means he would not require a work permit.

But talk of a full-time contract at Portman Road is premature, since today's closed-doors friendly is the first opportunity Royle has had to look at the player in match conditions.

Most Read

Royle said: “Sandro has done well in training but no manager would sign a player on that basis, which is why we have arranged today's game to take a close look at him.

“He's a very tidy player who has settled in well during his time with us. He is very fit, although we tend to take the fitness of Canadian and US players for granted because of their excellent attitude to the game.

“But we were always aware of the fact that he could not sign for anyone until January, so he will be flying back to Canada tomorrow regardless of how well he plays today.”

Town first-team stars Pablo Counago, Dean Bowditch and Matt Richards were also due to figure in today's game.

Grande, released by Montreal Impact, launched his professional career in Italy with a three-year contract at Brescia in 2001.

He played one UEFA Cup qualifier for Brescia, who loaned him to Fresinone, a Serie C side with whom he had been earlier in his career.

His transfer to Brescia was then cancelled after the club failed to meet their financial obligations and he moved on to Potenza and Albalonga before returning to Canada.

Grande is likely to be invited back to Ipswich in the New Year, while Town also remain optimistic about securing the services of another Canadian, 17-year-old Jaime Peters.

The right-sided midfielder or forward was on trial at Portman Road in the summer, but has also been to Premiership giants Manchester United and Chelsea, along with Championship clubs Millwall and Derby.

Peters is unable to commit himself until he turns 18 in May, but despite interest elsewhere Royle remains confident of being able to persuade him to team up with his Canadian international colleague Jason De Vos.

“We are in there batting,” said Royle. “The last I heard he had gone to Chelsea but we're not out of it and still in with a chance of signing him.

“One of his agents happens to be an old school friend of mine but the kid will go where he believes he will get the best chance.”

Ipswich boss Joe Royle today spoke of his sadness at the death of former Liverpool and England captain Emlyn Hughes, who passed away yesterday at the age of 57.

Hughes' wife, Barbara, rang Royle with the news and the Town boss said: “If I can attend the funeral I will be there.

“I last saw Emlyn a few weeks ago when we were playing in Doncaster and even though he was very ill he was fighting it every inch of the way.

“That was typical of Emlyn. He was a warrior, as fans will remember from his playing days, and my thoughts are with Barbara and the other members of his family at their tragic loss.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter