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Ipswich hoping form counts for nothing

Top of Serie A meets the bottom of the FA Preiership when Internazionale FC host an Ipswich Town FC side leading 1-0 from the first leg on Thursday.

The relative merits of the Italian and English leagues has been a common topic of debate in recent years and it would be hard to dispute England's right to supremacy should Ipswich Town FC - bottom of the FA Premiership - remove Internazionale FC - top in Serie A - from the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

Armstrong header
George Burley's team hold a single-goal advantage following Alun Armstrong's header in the first leg of the third-round tie but they suspect the Inter team that takes to the field in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium on Thursday will show significant changes to the one Héctor Cúper sent out at Portman Road stadium, and that will render their task all the more difficult.

Two goals for Vieri
Inter need to score and Christian Vieri played himself firmly into contention for a starting place with two goals as they came from behind to beat Atalanta BC 4-2 at the weekend and climb to the summit of Serie A. The game also marked the return of Alvaro Recoba, who had been suspended since the start of the season because of passport irregularities, and with Ronaldo also pressing for regular action the feeling grows that Cúper's team will be mounting a strong case for honours in the new year.

Weekend defeat
Although Armstrong missed Ipswich's weekend fixture against Arsenal FC, a 2-0 home defeat, with a hamstring injury, he was in the party that made the trip to Italy. Jim Magilton has reported an improvement in the thigh problem that has forced him to miss three games but fellow midfield player Martin Reuser is still troubled by a leg injury.

Broken jaw
Marcus Stewart will not be seen in a blue shirt again before January following a broken jaw while Marcus Bent, whose transfer from Blackburn Rovers FC went through the day following the first leg, is not eligible. Chairman David Sheepshanks has now called a halt to further signings as the Suffolk club face up to the fear of relegation and a revision of their ambitious plans.

Rare chance
Magilton's absence has provided an extended run for Sixto Peralta and this game gives the Inter player, who is on loan to Ipswich for the rest of the season, a rare chance to sample football in Milan. He believes Ipswich have a good chance of success but warns against Inter's strength.

George fit
Winger Finidi George is in line to start the game after making his comeback against Arsenal following a spell on the sidelines recovering from a fractured cheekbone sustained in a match against Fulham FC in October. The Nigeria international, who won the UEFA Champions League while at Ajax, said: "I really appreciated coming on as a substitute against Arsenal and I've been training very hard. I'm happy to be back as being injured is not nice and I'm looking forward to playing again."

'A big player for us'
Burley is delighted to be able to call on a player of George's experience. "Finidi is a very good player with worldwide experience," said the Scot. "He's such a vital part of our team. He's played at the [FIFA] World Cup as well as in many European games and he's a big player for us, especially with experienced players like Marcus [Stewart] injured. We've missed him badly over the past five or six weeks and he's a player I want to rush back into the side."