Royle shocked as 'father figure' dies

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle was today coming to terms with the death of his former team mate Brian Labone.

IPSWICH Town manager Joe Royle was today coming to terms with the death of his former team mate Brian Labone.

Ex-Everton and England defender Labone died suddenly last night aged 66, and Royle said: “He was a father figure to me at Goodison.

“Brian was fantastic to me and we were still close friends. As far as I know he had never had an illness in his life. It was a huge shock to be told this morning.

“Brian was a clever footballer. He never lost a header or a tackle, yet I never saw him booked. He shared rooms with goalkeeper Gordon West and they were a tremendous double act. He was a senior figure when I was a youngster in the Everton side and I could not have been better looked after. I am devastated.”

Labone was capped 26 times for his country and played in the 1970 World Cup. His playing career ended in 1970-71 through injury but the Liverpudlian, who was also Toffees captain, remained close to the club working in a commercial capacity.

He made 534 appearances and scored two goals between 1957 and 1971.

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Turning his thoughts to Ipswich Town matters, Royle confirmed striker Sam Parkin and midfielder Ian Westlake both stand a chance of playing in tomorrow's game at Leiston to celebrate the Ridgeons League club's 125 years.

“We took advice from the physio about Ian and did not include him in the squad for the game against Derby,” said Royle. “If he comes through OK tomorrow he will be considered for the Plymouth game. There will be no surprises in the squad for Plymouth, it is a game we want to win.”

Royle has not ruled out skipper Jim Magilton making his final Town appearance at Home Park. “I will have a chat with Jim this week, and it is too early to say about the weekend,” said Royle. “We will be giving Jim all the help he needs as he looks to the next stage of his footballing career.”

Ipswich have two Spanish defenders on trial this week, there is a small chance one - or both - might figure at Plymouth. “But we are mainly looking to next season,” said Royle.

Jose Manuel Corrasco, 18, and Daniel Orazco, 19, are from Fuengirola los Boliches - second in the Spanish Division D'Honor.

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