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Keeper Set to Keep Place
Keeper Set to Keep Place
Friday, 21st Sep 2007 11:51

Boss Jim Magilton looks set to stick with keeper Neil Alexander for Saturday's live home Sky game with Coventry City (Sky Sports One, KO 5.20pm). Earlier in the week the Town manager hinted that he might replace the Scot with Shane Supple after a below par performance at West Brom last week.

Alexander is still waiting for wife Joanne to give birth to their second child and there is again the possibility that the former Cardiff City man could be called to her bedside if baby, now five days overdue, chooses an inopportune moment to put in an appearance. Otherwise the birth will be induced on Tuesday.

Magilton says the Scottish international is focused despite his family situation: “Neil is in the right frame of mind to play and is very much in my mind to play.

“Everyone is entitled to one bad game and we know Neil is a good goalkeeper. We will see how he is before the match and watch developments at home.”

Alexander is likely to have an unchanged backline in front of him with Town yet to land the defensive loan player Magilton has confirmed he is targeting. Dan Harding, like Alexander criticised for his performance at West Brom, will be on the left, David Wright on the right with Alex Bruce and skipper Jason De Vos in the centre.

Fabian Wilnis is back in the squad after completing his three-match ban for his red card at Plymouth, but Richard Naylor is still not in action after undergoing toe surgery over the summer.

Magilton has choices to make in midfield with Gary Roberts in line for a recall after a goal and an assist in the two home games so far this season, despite not reaching the heights of his early performances for the Blues since last year's move from Accrington.

Roberts's return is likely to see Sylvain Legwinski drop back to the bench after making his first start of the season at the Hawthorns last week. The Frenchman looked a little rusty against West Brom after missing much of pre-season as he recovered from the broken metatarsal he sustained at Luton late last season.

Jon Walters will probably continue on the right with Owen Garvan and Tommy Miller in the centre. Jaime Peters is pushing for a first team place but is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench and a run out in the second half. Gavin Williams is out of action until December with ankle ligament damage.

Up front, Alan Lee will partner Pablo Couñago with Billy Clarke likely to be involved from the bench at some stage. Dean Bowditch is again in the squad and will be hoping to make his first senior appearance of the season. Danny Haynes completes his three-match suspension for his recent red card in the reserves.

Saturday's game sees Magilton take on Iain Dowie, one of his closest friends and his former Northern Ireland room-mate, and the Blues boss is expecting a game for the purist: “It looks as though Iain has found a home at Coventry. He has an infectious personality and his players look as though they are responding.

“It should be a great game as Iain likes his sides to play attacking football. He would love to get one over me, but I have to make sure that he doesn't.

“Our home form has been good this season and if we are to be successful this year then our performances at home will be the foundation for that.

"It's important that we get back on the winning track after the defeats at Watford and West Brom.

"Coventry are a very strong side, very fit and well organised. I watched them play at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night and they deserved their point."

Dowie will be looking for only Coventry's second win at Portman Road since 1970. Last season's corresponding fixture ended 2-1 to the Blues via goals from Mark Noble and Billy Clarke with Elliott Ward netting for the visitors.

The Sky Blues could welcome back David McNamee to their defence after a calf problem as Dowie says he is short of cover at present: "We are a bit light defensively at the moment. It could be too early for him but he did OK in the reserves and got some minutes under his belt, so we will have to see how he feels,"

Striker Michael Mifsud may also be in line for a recall after a rib injury, while midfielder Isaac Osbourne is also close to a return from a knee problem.

Defender Colin Hawkins has an achilles injury and winger Julian Gray is out with a knee ligament problem.

Dowie agrees with Magilton's assessment of the match: “Jim is a very good friend of mine and I am delighted to see him in the management game because I always thought he would make a coach/manager.

“I roomed with him for years and he is a good talker about the game. He is a funny man and one of the best players I have ever played with, technically. He was a fantastic player and he has got a team in his own image who pass the ball about.

“So it will be a good football game on Saturday. We will go there and play, so it should be one for the purists, for sure, and whatever happens he will still be a very, very good friend of mine.”

TWTD issue 88 will be on sale ahead of the game from our sellers around the ground. The first issue of 2007/08 includes an interview with midfielder Tommy Miller. If you can't make the game and still want a copy, you can buy a single issue or take out a six-issue subscription here.

Saturday's referee is Trevor Kettle from Berkshire, who has shown 28 yellow and two red cards in seven games this season. Kettle, who has a reputation for being card happy, over fussy and often perplexing, last refereed Town during the glorious 3-1 home victory over Norwich City at Portman Road last November.

Squad: Alexander, Bowditch, Bruce, Casement, Clarke, Couñago, De Vos, Garvan, Harding, Lee, Legwinski, T Miller, Peters, Roberts, Supple, Walters, Wilnis, Wright.

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