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Royle: We're almost there

PUBLISHED: 18:00 13 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

"WE are within touching distance of the First Divisions play-offs," insists Ipswich boss Joe Royle.

Delighted at the way his players performed in yesterday's 1-0

victory against Sunderland at an atmospheric Portman Road, Royle added: "Two more wins could well do it with other teams in

contention having to play each other.

"WE are within touching distance of the First Divisions play-offs," insists Ipswich boss Joe Royle.

Delighted at the way his players performed in yesterday's 1-0

victory against Sunderland at an atmospheric Portman Road, Royle added: "Two more wins could well do it with other teams in

contention having to play each other.

"But we shall be looking for four victories."

The manager revealed that his players were sent out with jobs to do. "We had a game plan, and every player stuck to it," he said.

"John McGreal was superb at the back, and we defended very well for 90 minutes so that we could record a welcome clean sheet.

"We were functional instead of being inspirational, and perhaps we should have done that more this season. We were determined, strong all through and the players stuck together."

Royle had special praise for Ian Westlake, who he moved to a more central midfield role.

The manager said: "The lad has unlimited running power and he did his job wonderfully well.

"And Fabian Wilnis was left out at Rotherham because he needed a reminder, but he responded well and at home he gives us attacking options."

Royle is well aware of the value of having a fit McGreal and Matt Elliott at the back for the rest of the season, and he felt the

fans played their part.

"I would give the players no less than eight marks each, and the crowd deserves ten," said Royle. "They realise that they have a part to play and they can lift us to the Premiership. They certainly made a big impact against Sunderland.

"There was no doubt in mind that it was a

penalty and Tommy Miller is an exceptional spot-kick taker. He can hit them both sides, and gets as much power out of the inside of his foot as other players do from their instep."

Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy also had no doubts that it was a penalty when Darren Bent was sent

tumbling by goalkeeper Thomas Myhre.

However, McCarthy insisted: "We did not deserve to lose.

"In the first half we were the better side and had chances from set-pieces and open play.

"The penalty gave Ipswich a big boost and they were the better side after the interval. The spot-kick was a big psychological blow for us. We will know after we play West Brom next weekend whether we can make automatic

promotion."


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