Royle: We need to sharpen up

IPSWICH need to find their shooting boots for tomorrow's home clash with in-form Nottingham Forest, boss Joe Royle stressed today.Royle has seen his team bank just one point from their last four games, including a run of three straight defeats and drop down the Championship to third place.

IPSWICH need to find their shooting boots for tomorrow's home clash with in-form Nottingham Forest, boss Joe Royle stressed today.

Royle has seen his team bank just one point from their last four games, including a run of three straight defeats and drop down the Championship to third place.

But they are just three points adrift of title rivals Wigan and Sunderland and Royle dismissed talk of a crisis.

He said: “We are too quick to create crises. We are talking about one really bad performance, at home to QPR.

“We created a hatful of chances against Watford and we lost 1-0 at the league leaders (Wigan) through a penalty that wasn't.

“We just need to find a finishing touch, a cutting edge, and I'm talking as a team. We have always had a spread of goals rather than rely too much on individuals.”

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Royle is not surprised by second-from-bottom Forest's revival under new boss Gary Megson, whose ten-game reign has included four wins and the same number of draws.

He said: “The biggest surprise as far as I'm concerned is that Forest were down there in the first place with the players they have at the club.

“They are playing survival soccer and I think they will stay up. Gary will admit they are defensively minded, very big and strong and I am expecting a hard game.

“I am more concerned with my own team. If we play at our best we can beat any side in the Championship.

“There were some encouraging signs towards the end of the Wigan game, when we started to pass the ball around and looked more like ourselves.”

Town's only doubt is central defender Richard Naylor, who was expected to return to training today after limping out of Tuesday's session with a hamstring problem.

“It's more tired than an actual strain,” reported Royle. “We took him off as a precaution and we are hopeful he will be fit, although at the moment there is a slight doubt.”

In the unlikely event of Naylor missing out - he is the only Town player with a 100 per cent league attendance record this season - Royle will draft in one of his rising stars.

He must also decide whether to persevere with out-of-sorts striker Darren Bent, who has failed to find the net in his last six games.

Defender Jason De Vos will return after a one-game ban and on-loan striker James Scowcroft is also available again after serving a similar suspension.

Megson hopes to have recent recruit David Friio, the French midfielder signed from Plymouth, available again after he missed the midweek win at Watford with a calf injury.

Forest's run of ten points from a possible 12 - their unbeaten sequence actually extends to six games and includes an amazing five clean sheets - has taken them to within three points of safety.

They have just won successive games, at Leicester and Watford, for the first time this season to boost their escape bid.

Their position looked hopeless prior to Megson's arrival but, typically, he has triggered a turnaround in fortune while still insisting they must continue to improve if they are going to survive.

Forest will be cheered on by an army of more than 2,000 fans. The club have sold their full allocation of tickets and have warned supporters not to travel unless they have already purchased one.

Durham referee Colin Webster is making his first visit to Portman Road since November 2002 when he officiated at Town's 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace, which was manager Joe Royle's first league game in charge.

He was also the man in the middle when Forest and Town drew 1-1 at the City Ground last season and in 29 games this season he has booked 88 players and sent off 11.

SQUADS

IPSWICH: Davis, Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Unsworth, Miller, Magilton, Horlock, Westlake, Currie, Richards, Kuqi, Bent, Scowcroft, Counago and Price.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Gerrard, Curtis, Morgan, Melville, Doig, Friio, Powell, Commons, Rogers, Dobie, Taylor, Thompson, Evans, Perch, Bopp, Gardner, Harris and Doyle.

Referee: Colin Webster (Shotley Bridge).

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