We can beat the best - Jim

IPSWICH Town skipper Jim Magilton declared: "The First Division is wide open. It's there for the taking."The 33-year-old midfield man believes Joe Royle's outfit can stage a genuine title challenge this term.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH Town skipper Jim Magilton declared: "The First Division is wide open. It's there for the taking."

The 33-year-old midfield man believes Joe Royle's outfit can stage a genuine title challenge this term.

"No team is likely to run away with the title this year," said the former Northern Ireland captain.

"Six or seven clubs could be in the shake-up for the two automatic places come the later stages of the season.

"We have the ability here at Ipswich to live with the best of them and now we've got to take it on and on."

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Five wins and an away draw in October saw Town climb from the basement to seventh in the table, but they slipped up in a 4-3 home defeat to lowly Gillingham last Saturday.

Today, Royle's side face struggling Derby County at Pride Park, a team managed by ex-Blues chief George Burley, the man who signed Magilton for Town.

"Derby have to be given the utmost respect, especially with George Burley in charge," said Magilton.

The 33-year-old Town playmaker added: "We've had a bad blip against Gillingham after a great run. We've had a rude awakening – a real kick up the backside, if you like.

"But I think that there has been plenty this season to suggest that this club has more ability in the division than most. We've a good side now and with key players working their way back from injury the competition for places will hot up. That can only be good."

With a break of a fortnight after the Derby game before the next match at home to Sheffield United, Magilton feels that even more importance is attached to the result against the Rams.

He said: "We don't want to be stewing for a fortnight. We want to get another three points under our belts before the two-week break. We've all been upset after the Gillingham result and now we've got to get it out of our system."

Magilton played in a Town side that gained promotion to the Premiership in the year 2000 via the play-offs and finished fifth to qualify for Europe in their first campaign back in the top flight.

"I'd love another crack at the Premiership again, I really would," he said.

"I feel I'm playing well and could take the step again, but first we've so much work to do and I believe we have the players here to do the job."

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