Smiles better for Thomas

BRIGHTON had better beware if they see a smile on the face of Thomas Gaardsoe at Portman Road tomorrow.For Ipswich Town's Danish defender with a goal knack says: "We're where we are because we keep laughing.

By Dave Allard

BY DAVE ALLARD

BRIGHTON had better beware if they see a smile on the face of Thomas Gaardsoe at Portman Road tomorrow.

For Ipswich Town's Danish defender with a goal knack says: "We're where we are because we keep laughing. We keep smiling."

The 23-year-old, who stole up from the back to get the first goal in Tuesday night's 3-1 home win over Reading with a sixth of the season, continued: "This is a difficult time for the club we all know. But our job is to play football. And a great dressing room and training ground atmosphere helps so much.

"We have to keep the good spirit and laughter going even after a disappointing result. Of course it can get you down when things haven't gone well. But you mustn't let it.

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"You have to keep the smiles there. Keep the laughter there. When one game has gone, whatever the result, we take the positives from it, not too many of the negatives. This is the way it works with the boss Joe Royle and it's a good way."

The career of the former Denmark Under 21 cap, a £1 million signing from Aalborg by former manager George Burley, has flourished since Royle arrived in late October.

"The boss has had faith in me and it has made such a difference," says the man who has been enjoying a new central defensive partnership with striker-cum-defender Richard Naylor.

He went on: "Regular first team football has brought out my game so much and I'm learning more and more all the time. Hopefully I can keep on learning and learning in the First Division and be operating in the Premiership next season.

"Richard Naylor and I have come together just lately. I enjoy playing with him. It's a new partnership and there are things we have to work on. But we are learning more and more all the time about each others game.

"We are enjoying it and learning from each. Just as I said earlier about the general situation, we keep the negatives out of our mind and keep the positives in there. And we all keep smiling and laughing together."

Town, unbeaten in seven league games, have really closed in seriously on the play-off top-six pack by means of the 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday followed by that Reading win.

In that Reading game, Gaardsoe headed in during the first minute to give the Blues an opener from a Martijn Reuser free kick.

Has the six-goal Scandinavian set a goal target.?

"No, I just have to keep defending well and any goal is a bonus," explained the Town number 23 who went on: "My main job is to keep concentrating on the way it's going at the back. But I love scoring and will keep trying to get in there on the en of things when I can."

Of the rejuvenated play-off hopes he said: "We just have to take each game as it comes and not get too carried away whatever happens. One game at a time and one situation at a time is the only way to approach it. Hopefully it can all come together and there will be a happy end to the season."

Town, who drew 1-1 with relegation battling Brighton at the Withdean Stadium in December, have the midfield pair of Darren Ambrose and Tommy Miller back in their squad after injury.

THE SQUADS

IPSWICH: Marshall, Wilnis, Naylor, Gaardsoe, Makin, Richards, Wright, Magilton, Miller, Holland, Ambrose, Reuser, D Bent, M Bent, Counago, Westlake, Bowditch, Abidallah, Pullen.

BRIGHTON: Beasant, Ingimarsson, Cullip, Blackwell, Watson, Rodger, Jones, Carpenter, Oatway, Brooker, Mayo, Zamora, Barrett, Hart, Wilkinson, Packham.

n…..TOWN defender John McGreal is to have special footwear made after visiting a specialist about his back problem that causes spasms down his right side.

He said: "The feeling is it may help. I certainly hope so."

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