Strikers can stake claim

STRIKERS Adam Proudlock and Billy Clarke have a chance to stake claims for a regular first team spot when Ipswich play Norwich in the Premiership Reserve League at Portman Road tonight (kick-off 7pm).

By Elvin King

STRIKERS Adam Proudlock and Billy Clarke have a chance to stake claims for a regular first team spot when Ipswich play Norwich in the Premiership Reserve League at Portman Road tonight (kick-off 7.0pm).

Beating the Canaries in East Anglian derbies is satisfying in itself, but for Proudlock or Clarke a couple of goals would be particularly pleasing.

With leading scorer Sam Parkin out for four months with a broken ankle and Dean Bowditch failing to grab his chance in the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton on Saturday, manager Joe Royle has set a challenge.

He said: “Both Adam and Billy have a chance tonight to show what they can do.”

Royle has the option of moving Richard Naylor to the front line, but he cannot bring in a loan signing to partner Nicky Forster until the start of next month.

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And if Town don't re-find their scoring touch in the meanwhile their slim hopes of doing well this season could be dashed.

“Nicky Forster showed again on Saturday the rewards that can be gained from running at defences, and I shall be see what Adam and Billy can do against Norwich,” added Royle, who confirmed that midfielder Owen Garvan will not be playing.

“Owen took a number of heavy blows in the FA Youth Cup win over Leeds United last week and has not recovered sufficiently.”

Ian Westlake will play if he is able but is a doubt after missing out in Town's last two Championship matches with a blow to his ankle.

Ipswich will confirm their side later today with Jaime Peters expected to start and Shane Supple due to play in goal.

Reflecting on Town's draw against Wolves, Royle said: “Our failure to score goals in open play is the big problem.

“We need a far greater threat up front but may have to wait until the January transfer window opens to be able to do anything about it.

“I am ecstatic with a point in view of all our current problems. I'd have gladly taken a point before the start. That's not lack of ambition, that's reality.

“We had bad luck falling behind after a wicked deflection but I can understand Glenn Hoddle being upset about the penalty decision.

“I cannot fault the spirit of my players who battled to the very end. For us to compete against teams like Wolves is going to be hard for us at the moment.

“We are in a transitional period and suffering injuries at the same time.

“I thought Gavin Williams was outstanding for us in midfield and our two central defenders stayed firm.”

Wolves manager Glenn Hoddle was less pleased with his side and their failure to take chances.

He said: “I have told the players they are going to underachieve if they cannot put a killer head on. It is unacceptable.

“Maybe I should change the way we train and make them run, run and run again until the penny drops. We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

“When you miss from that close it is unacceptable at this level. I just don't know if the players realise it.

“We play some lovely football and dominate teams away from home, but we lack quality when finishing. It's as simple as that.”

The former England boss, who used Royle as one of his scouts, was keen to avoid controversy over the penalty.

He would only say: “The ball was going out for a corner. I'm not going too far down that road. It will cost me money if I say what I really want to say.”

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