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Sheepshanks praises Town boss

PUBLISHED: 20:00 14 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:43 03 March 2010

DAVID Sheepshanks today gave Ipswich Town boss Joe Royle a vote of confidence.

Not the hollow commendation from beleaguered club chairmen that more often than not leads to a parting of the ways, but a sincere tribute to a manager who Blues chairman Sheepshanks describes as a "tower of strength".

DAVID Sheepshanks today gave Ipswich Town boss Joe Royle a vote of confidence.

Not the hollow commendation from beleaguered club chairmen that more often than not leads to a parting of the ways, but a sincere tribute to a manager who Blues chairman Sheepshanks describes as a "tower of strength".

After watching Town fight back from the brink of defeat to win an absorbing First Division game 4-2 at Coventry, Sheepshanks said: "I have great confidence for next season whichever division we are in.

"We have four games left and we are hanging in there. Everything is still possible.

"Saturday's match showed what talented players we have at Portman Road and Joe knows how to get the best out of them.

"He has been a tower of strength since he arrived. His good-humoured enthusiasm has shone through despite the difficulties that are going on behind the scenes.

"Just three defeats in 23 league matches speaks for itself and if this form was maintained over a whole season it would lead to success."

Sheepshanks, who expects an announcement from the club's administrators soon, admitted that all business planning is being done on the basis of being a Nationwide League First Division club again in 2003/04.

"A return to the Premiership would of course be welcome and could still happen," he said.

"Joe has already confirmed that he intends to make offers to three current players who are out of contract in the summer.

"The future on the field looks encouraging indeed. We scored two of our finest goals of the season at Coventry and we still have everything to play for starting with Friday's game at home to Portsmouth."

Sheepshanks feels for Sunderland, who were relegated on Saturday. "I am afraid there could be a lot of pain ahead for them," he said.

"Any side who has played in the Premiership for more than one year faces financial disaster on relegation.

"It makes it very difficult as we have found to our cost. Last season was the worst time to drop out of the Premiership.

"Leicester and Derby County have also found this and Sunderland, I am afraid, may suffer in the same way.

"Other clubs are learning from what has happened to us and are taking action to improve their positions if they are relegated."

Sheepshanks was up at 4am on Saturday at the end of short skiing break in France to get to Highfield Road in time to see Town go two goals down in the first half.

But the Blues' brilliant fightback – with Marcus Bent and Pablo Counago netting twice – keeps them in play-off contention.


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