Reuser the Only Doubt
Thursday, 15th Jan 2004 15:16
Full-back Matt Richards has recovered from his hamstring injury and is expected to be fit to face Crewe on Saturday. However, Martijn Reuser is a doubt after a recurrence of a stomach bug.
The Dutchman didn't train on Thursday due to the problem which also affected him earlier in the week. He will be assessed on Friday before any decision is made.
Richards has been back in training after appearing to be a doubt earlier in the week and will line-upon the left of defence.
On the right Fabian Wilnis is suspended for one game after reaching five bookings. Jermaine Wright appears favourite to move into Wilnis's role with Ian Westlake a candidate to take over from Wright in midfield.
Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos both came through Wednesday's reserve game OK and will be in the squad for the visit of the Railwaymen. Diallo will be involved for the first time since picking up his knee injury in September and with so many central defenders now available, a three-man back line is not being ruled out by manager Joe Royle.
Striker Darren Bent is out due to his ankle problem and has undergone an exploratory x-ray. The club are waiting for the results but the preliminary view is that there is no serious problem.
Free transfer-listed keeper Andy Marshall comes into the first team squad for the first time this season and will be on the bench. Short-term signing Nathan Abbey has left the club and is set to join Burnley.
Youngster Scott Barron had been mentioned as possible cover for Matt Richards, however, Royle says he has not been considered as an option.
The Town boss says that defeating Dario Gradi's side is by no means a simple task: “They beat us there. I felt we were unfortunate to lose, although others thought differently at the time.
“We watched the video again this morning and, given the chances that we had, I don't honestly know how we lost the game, although we were in that run at the beginning of the season when we couldn't seem to score a goal.
“Crewe have done tremendously well. They're not easy, although there aren't too many household names in their side. They keep coming up with good players and their front two are dangerous.
“Steve Jones has been a regular goalscorer this season and Dean Ashton has improved again after he had looked like he'd stood still a little bit last year. They played very well against us down there.”
“You look at our division it's so tight that sides even as far down as fifth or sixth from bottom will be thinking that with a good long run they can put themselves into he play-offs. Sides like Nottingham Forest who are certainly underachieving at the moment.”
Royle says that Town need to replicate their form from prior to the holiday period: “We need to start another run. We need a run like the one we had before Christmas. We've just been a little bit stagnant of late, so we've got to get going and this is a very important home game for us which we've got to win having lost our last home game.”
He says that his side have found dealing with teams who come to Portman Road and defend in depth more difficult than they should have: “When we've had to go and deal with eight, nine or ten players behind the ball we haven't done it particularly well.
“We haven't scored early on which can draw sides out. An early goal is vital, although we got that against Palace and lost. We need that little bit of guile or ingenuity to get that goal for us.”
“This is an important game for us to win because if we don't it is quite likely that we might slip out of the top six. Having worked so hard to get there we don't want to do that. I've set my eyes on the top two, let alone the top six, so it's a must-win game for us.”
Crewe boss Dario Gradi says his side's win against Wimbledon last week was an important one: “The result against Wimbledon allows us to go with Ipswich with the points in the bag.
“We could have been going there after two home defeats, so it was a great result for us on Saturday, and it was important to bounce back after the disappointing of going out of the FA Cup.
“It has shown us that the dividing line between success and failure is very thin and, although we know that Saturday's game will be difficult, we go there with great confidence.”
The Alex are without three of their regular midfielders in skipper Dave Brammer, David Vaughan and Justin Cochrane. Brammer is a long-term casualty having recently undergone a groin operation, while Vaughan has a knee injury.
Cochrane pulled a hamstring in last week's win against Wimbledon and Neil Sorvel is expected to take over from the promising youngster. Chris McCready and Allan Smart are also on the sidelines. Central defenders Adie Moses and Richard Walker were back in training this week but are not expected to be involved.
Saturday's referee is David Crick from Worcester Park who so far this season has shown 42 yellow cards and two red in 20 games. He last reffed Town in the 3-1 away win at Gillingham in March last year.
Likely squad: Davis, Marshall, Wright, Richards, Naylor, McGreal, Santos, Diallo, Bart-Williams, Magilton, Miller, Westlake, Reuser, Couñago, Kuqi, Bowditch.
Photo: Action Images
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