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Championship Season Preview Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town Odds: 40/1 Last Five Seasons 2005/06 - 15 (Championship), 2004/05 - 3 (Championship), 2003/04 - 5 (Championship), 2002/03 - 7 (Championship), 2001/02 - 18 (Premiership, Relegated). 2005/06 Cup Progress FA Cup Third Round vs Portsmouth (h) - lost 1-0. Carling Cup First Round vs Yeovil Town (h) - lost 2-0. Top Goal Scorer 2005/06: Nick Forster (striker) - 7 goals. Players Out Kevin Horlock (Doncaster Rovers - Free), Dean McDonald (Gillingham - Free). Joe Royle's four year tenure at Portman Road came to an end in June after a disappointing fifteenth place finish, following three previous seasons in and around the play off places.

Veteran midfielder Jim Magilton, who has been at the club since 1999 following a 682,500 transfer from Sheffield Wednesday, takes over. Magilton wants to instil "mental toughness" in his squad ahead of next season after just 14 wins and a negative goal difference last term. While he has received financial backing from the Portman Road board, he is yet to bring in any new players at the time of writing. Magilton also dismissed reports linking him with moves for ex-players Matt Holland, out of favour at Charlton Athletic and Jamie Clapham who has been released by Birmingham City.

If it's toughness the club is after, then having a fit Alan Lee in time for the new season is a must. The Republic of Ireland international striker had an operation over the summer to correct a nagging groin problem. Magilton has cast his eye over several triallists during pre season, including Algeria international Medhi Meniri who also had a similar spell with Leeds United. Finnish midfielder Marko Kolsi joined the squad on their pre season tour of Holland.

The 21 year old, who spent last year at TOP Oss, has represented his country at all levels from under 17 to under 21. Defender Indridi Sigurdsson joined the club on tour following a recommendation by former Ipswich player Hermann Hreidarsson. The 24 year old has won 18 caps for Iceland and is a free agent after leaving Belgian club Racing Genk. Magilton is also taking a closer look at two UK-based players - former Nottingham Forest midfielder Eugene Bopp and Republic of Ireland international Colin Healy. Bopp joined Forest in 2001 and the former Germany under 21 international made 77 appearances and scored 11 goals before being released from the City Ground.

Former Sunderland midfielder Healy is also a free agent after spending the last three months of the season at relegated Scottish Premier side Livingston. Verdict Magilton has a lot of rebuilding to do following last seasons underachievement. Even though he is unlikely to guide them to promotion this season they should be able to improve on the fifteenth place finish at the end of the last campaign.

David Walker runs Betfred free bet and UK poker websites. A free email course: "Seven Days to Better Betting" is available at both of these websites.



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