We don't fear Town, say Helsingborgs

HELSINGBORGS believe they have a 50-50 chance of eliminating Ipswich from the UEFA Cup.

By Mel Henderson

HELSINGBORGS believe they have a 50-50 chance of eliminating Ipswich from the UEFA Cup.

Assistant coach Hans Carell was at Portman Road on Saturday to see Town's goalless stalemate with Everton.

And he returned to Sweden to announce: "I was not that impressed. I believe we have a 50-50 chance of going through to the next round."

Helsingborgs will also be boosted on Thursday by the return of key defender Jesper Jansson, who has missed his side's last two games through injury.

The 30-year-old could have played in Sunday's surprise 1-0 home defeat by Norrkoping but coach Nanne Bergstrand wanted to keep him for the trip to England.

Most Read

The Swedes will fly to Stansted tomorrow afternoon and train under the Portman Road floodlights in the evening.

Long-term injury victim Nicklas Persson will again be absent, but Helsingborgs have no other problems ahead of a game in which they are expected to put the emphasis on defence.

A Swedish source said: "The return of Jansson is a big plus for the team. He is experienced and very important to them – the rock in the middle."

While Town have made a stumbling start to the season, Helsingborgs are nearing the end of their domestic campaign.

Currently fourth, they have two games left in which to scrape into a Champions League place. Their opponents are Djurgarden and Gothenburg, second and third respectively in the table.

But Ipswich boss George Burley was not surprised that they slumped at home to third-bottom Norrkoping on Sunday, when Swedish-based Euro scout Simon Hunt looked on.

He said: "I was there last Wednesday to see them beat Halmstad and the conditions were absolutely horrendous. It rained relentlessly, the pitch was heavy and it was also extremely windy.

"It was energy-sapping, to say the least, and when I heard their result on Sunday I was not that shocked. The game I saw must have taken a lot out of them."

Burley sat his players down yesterday afternoon to watch a video re-run of the second half of Helsingborgs' most recent game.

But he stressed: "Although they lost at home, I know they are a very good side. They are experienced in Europe and beat Inter Milan in the Champions League last season.

"We know they will be tough opponents. It is a big game for us on Thursday but while we want to reach the third round of the UEFA Cup it's what happens over two games that counts."

Young defender Titus Bramble, who has an appointment with a specialist in London tomorrow, is the only certain non-starter as he seeks a solution to his achilles problem.

Both defender John McGreal and Alun Armstrong have been receiving treatment for back problems that flared up after Saturday's draw with Everton.

But Burley said: "Neither of them trained yesterday but they are minor injuries and I expect them both to be available for Thursday night. I'll be choosing from the same squad again."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter