Sumulikoski Set for First Start
Monday, 11th Feb 2008 11:49
Town boss Jim Magilton could give a first start to Macedonian midfielder Velice Sumulikoski as the Blues look to get back to winning ways at Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening (KO 8pm). Striker Alan Lee may also be recalled to the starting line-up
Magilton says the January signing from Turkish side Bursapor impressed him after coming off the bench on Saturday: “Schumey came on and started to dominate the ball for us so it could be a case of him starting so he can do that for us.
“Alan Lee came on and did very well and was unlucky with the chance that came back off the bar.
“He looks fresher, more athletic than he has after struggling with an achilles niggle.”
Sumulikoski is likely to slot into the centre of the midfield either in place of Tommy Miller, who was subbed at half-time during Saturday's defeat to Watford, or Owen Garvan, who Magilton says has been looking tired in recent games.
Lee will take up his starting role, probably with Jon Walters alongside him rather than Pablo Couñago. The Spaniard has struggled in the last two games and, with Palace likely to take a similar approach to Watford, Magilton may choose to start with Lee and Walters as his strike pair.
Who plays in the wide midfield positions depends on whether Owen Garvan is included in the starting line-up. If he is, the Irish youngster is likely to join Sumulikoski in the centre, if not then David Norris may be utilised alongside the Macedonian. Alan Quinn is expected to start on the left, while Danny Haynes may receive a recall on the right if Walters is used up front and Norris moves to the centre.
At the back, Stephen Bywater will be in goal, but Magilton has decisions to make regarding the rest of his backline. Spanish full-back Sito returns after his suspension and could be in line for a recall, although Dan Harding has impressed in his absence.
The Town manager will probably choose to continue with Harding as fielding the former Brighton and Leeds man allows David Wright to play on his preferred right flank.
Magilton also has options at centre-half with Richard Naylor pushing Alex Bruce for his place alongside skipper Jason De Vos. Naylor may well get the nod in what is likely to be another physical battle.
Defender Tony Craig is the only player unavailable to Palace boss Neil Warnock due to a back injury.
Former Blue James Scowcroft is likely to start, while Shefki Kuqi is back at Selhurst Park after a loan spell with Fulham and is expected to be on the bench.
Town have a good league record against the Eagles, winning 27 times, drawing on 22 occasions and losing 22 games between the two sides. The Blues have won both of the cup clashes involving the two clubs.
Earlier in the season, a Jon Walters goal gave Town a 1-0 win at Portman Road, while last season's game at Selhurst Park ended in a 2-0 Palace victory.
Tuesday's referee will be Clive Penton from Sussex, who has shown 56 yellow cards and one red in 19 games so far this season. His last Town game was last season's 2-0 defeat at West Brom in which he booked Alan Lee and Richard Naylor.
Likely squad: Bywater, Colgan, Wright, Harding, Sito, De Vos, Bruce, Naylor, Garvan, Sumulikoski, Miller, Norris, Quinn, Trotter, Walters, Haynes, Roberts, Lee, Couñago, Rhodes.
Photo: Action Images
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