Royle: Stop Johnno
DAVID Johnson's return to Portman Road at the weekend will figure prominently in Ipswich manager Joe Royle's pre-match thinking.With Nottingham Forest's visit still four days away, Royle admitted: “I am always wary of a player returning to his old stamping ground.
DAVID Johnson's return to Portman Road at the weekend will figure prominently in Ipswich manager Joe Royle's pre-match thinking.
With Nottingham Forest's visit still four days away, Royle admitted: “I am always wary of a player returning to his old stamping ground.”
Royle is a big fan of the diminutive striker who bagged 62 goals in 158 appearances for Town before a £3 million move to Forest in January 2001.
When he was in charge of Manchester City he even tried to sign the one-time Manchester United youngster, but at that point Ipswich were not keen to sell.
Royle added: “We were concerned about Marcus Stewart coming back with Sunderland recently, but David will be an even bigger threat because he will be starting for Forest.
“He has always tended to do well against us and, while I'm sure he still has great affection for Ipswich, we don't want him showing it by scoring against us.”
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Johnson scored both Forest goals in their 2-1 win over Town at the City Ground last season, but was not among the marksmen in his side's 4-3 win at Portman Road.
He netted 29 times as Forest made it into the play-offs, but the chances of either feat being repeated were ended when he broke a leg in the 3-1 home win over Sheffield United in September last year.
Johnson made his long-awaited comeback last month and marked his first start in eight outings with a goal in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with FA Cup finalists Millwall.
Forest have been beaten just twice in 14 games since ex-Wimbledon and Luton boss Joe Kinnear succeeded Paul Hart at the City Ground.
Royle added: “They will be no pushovers. I regard them as one of the best sides in the First Division and I've been puzzled by their form all season.
“Joe has come in and made a couple of useful short-term loan signings, while David Johnson's return from injury has undoubtedly helped.
“Earlier in the season, at their place, there were times in the game when they outplayed us and not too many sides can say that this season.”
Royle is keen that his team books their play-off place as soon as possible and went on: “The nice thing about our position is that we are in control and not looking for other sides to do us a favour.
“Two wins from our last three games will certainly be enough, mathematically, and one win might even do it. But we'll be trying to win all three games.”
However, a Town side with six wins from their last seven games might be without midfielder Tommy Miller for the Forest clash.
Miller was forced off in Saturday's 2-1 victory at Gillingham with a hamstring problem that has given him some concern in recent weeks.
Royle explained: “Tommy's hamstring is tight - there is no tear - and he won't train until Friday. At this stage his chances are no better than 50-50.”
There was no place for Miller when Scotland boss Berti Vogts today unveiled a 26-strong squad for the friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen on April 28.
But Malky Mackay and Gary Holt, lynchpins in the Norwich side on the brink of automatic promotion to the Premiership, were both included.
Meanwhile, Town defenders Drissa Diallo (knee) and John McGreal (foot) are also receiving treatment ahead of Forest's visit, but Royle is confident both will be available.
Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis will be back after missing the Gillingham game with a stomach bug, while deputy Lewis Price steps back into the reserves against Portsmouth this evening.
Senior stars Georges Santos, Alun Armstrong and Chris Bart-Williams, provided he can shake off a slight groin strain, are all scheduled to appear in the game being staged at Westleigh Park, home of Dr Martens Premier Division side Havant and Waterlooville.