Shef has the taste for more

SHEFKI Kuqi heads for the sun today looking to top up his appetite for goals in time for Sunday's crunch First Division game against West Brom at Portman Road.

By Elvin King

SHEFKI Kuqi heads for the sun today looking to top up his appetite for goals in time for Sunday's crunch First Division game against West Brom at Portman Road.

The 27-year-old came in from the cold to score a vital second goal in the 2-1 victory at Milton Keynes against Wimbledon.

He came off the bench to pep Ipswich Town up with the score at 0-0 - and helped Joe Royle's men to a third consecutive win to keep their alive play-off hopes.

Kuqi had been overshadowed by the hat-trick exploits of Darren Bent and Dean Bowditch in the previous two games.

But he proved at the National Hockey Stadium that he still has a part to play with his tenth goal since his September move from Sheffield Wednesday.

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With West Brom's lofty position in the table centred around their rather robust approach, Town manager Joe Royle may well opt for the muscle of Kuqi on Sunday.

“And I will not let the manager down if he picks me,” said Kuqi, who left yesterday to fly to Finland to meet up with his international colleagues for Wednesday's friendly international in Malta.

This afternoon he will arrive in Malta looking for goals to keep his confidence high.

“Every footballer likes to play every game, but the manager has made the right decision to play Darren and Dean up front in our last three games,” added Kuqi, who belied his big frame with a neat flicked finish from a Bowditch cross.

“They have both done very well and good luck to them, but if the manager wants me back in then I shall be waiting.”

Royle knows that Bowditch must be eased through this early stage of what promises to be a glittering career. He said: “Dean is not Robocop and we brought him off towards the end after he had played very well again.”

Kuqi added: “We have seven big games left and must take them a match at a time. Wimbledon had nothing to lose and all sides that play them at the moment are expected to win.

“But you cannot score five goals every time and the only thing we really had to do was to win.

“I saw Dean breaking down the right and his cross arrived in the middle at the right time. It was an important second goal as it settled us down and gave us a breather.

“But we conceded another goal from a free-kick and this made the final minutes a little bit hectic.”

Keeper Kelvin Davis admitted he did not enjoy playing against his former club. “But the result was the important thing,” he said.

“I cannot remember my last clean sheet, but as long as we win I am happy and we are set up nicely for the final games of the season.

“Matt Elliott has settled in well and it is nice to have him around and perhaps the clean sheets will start against West Brom.”

Ex-Town striker James Scowcroft, who finished a three-match suspension for Leicester City yesterday, was an interested spectactor.

He met up with his former team-mates after the game and said: “It was a good game and the best team won.

“Ipswich needed a goal to make their dominance count and they have as good a chance of a top six finish as anybody else in the hunt.”

Wimbledon skipper Ben Chorley said: “Teams we will be meeting next season will not be on a par with Ipswich. In our situation a point would have been a good result and Ipswich are a massive club looking for a play-off place.”