Royle: We have a leader in Matt

IPSWICH manager Joe Royle welcomed on-loan defender Matt Elliott to Portman Road today and raved: "He's a leader."The 35-year-old Leicester stalwart started his one-month loan spell as Royle checked on an ER-style treatment room before settling on his squad for tomorrow night's visit to Walsall.

IPSWICH manager Joe Royle welcomed on-loan defender Matt Elliott to Portman Road today and raved: "He's a leader."

The 35-year-old Leicester stalwart started his one-month loan spell as Royle checked on an ER-style treatment room before settling on his squad for tomorrow night's visit to Walsall.

Royle said: "At the moment I've got 11 names in front of me – a possible line-up – and three of them are forwards. It's the worst injury situation since I came to the club."

But at least the Ipswich manager could console himself that a three-week effort to land 6ft 3ins Elliott finally bore fruit.

He is a player in the Terry Butcher mould, an uncompromising defender prepared to shed blood for the cause, and will make his debut at the Bescot Stadium.

Royle said: "I am absolutely delighted he is here. He's strong, experienced and very good in the air – just what we want.

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"Younger players around him will benefit from his presence and although we've got Jim (Magilton) in midfield we haven't really had an organiser and leader from the back.

"He'll need a little bit of time to settle in. He's not exactly rusty, but it's a while since he played any competitive football. "Hopefully, Matt can come in and kick-start the last quarter of the season for us."

But Royle was waiting on X-ray reports on doubtful duo Georges Santos and Richard Naylor before naming his squad to travel to the Midlands.

Santos broke his nose just before half-time in Saturday's 3-1 home defeat by promotion rivals Millwall, while Naylor fears he may have fractured a toe.

Royle said: "At this moment in time both must be rated very doubtful, but I'm not ruling them out just yet."

But the Town boss rhymed off a list of players definitely ruled out, weekend casualty Drissa Diallo joining the already-crocked Pablo Counago (hamstring), Chris Makin (hip), McGreal (knee), Chris Bart-Williams (back) on the unavailable list.

There is also a major doubt about Martijn Reuser, a substitute on Saturday when he "opened up the joint in his knee" according to Royle.

Midfield pair Tommy Miller and Ian Westlake have also been receiving treatment for knocks picked up against Millwall but both are expected to be okay.

Teenagers Aidan Collins, Scott Mitchell and Scott Barron, who has yet to figure at first team level, will all be in Town's travelling party.

Royle added: "It seems to be the curse of the centre-half here at the moment. We've also got young Gerard Nash on his way back.

"We've had problems all season but it really came home to roost on Saturday when we lost two before half-time. If Manchester United can feel the loss of key defenders, so can we."

Elliott has been at Leicester for more than seven years, then boss Martin O'Neill paying Oxford a club record £1.6 million in January 1997.

He shared in the club's success under O'Neill, scoring both goals in the 2-1 win over Tranmere in the League Cup Final at Wembley in February 2000 and earning the man of the match award.

He was also the semi-final hero, scoring the only goal of the second leg after a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa in the first game.

Elliott has also gained Scotland international honours, thanks to a grandmother hailing from north of the border.

He has won 18 senior caps, scoring once, and was on duty in the World Cup finals of 1998 in France.

Elliott has made a total of 287 appearances for Leicester, but only eight of them this season as he has faded from the first team scene.

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