MICK McCarthy is mulling over the future of SIX key first-team players as he looks to shape his Blues side in the New Year.

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When are the ‘Ipswich six’ leaving?

* Stephen Henderson – (current deal expires) January 13

* Bradley Orr – January 26

* Danny Higginbotham – December 31

* Nigel Reo-Coker – January 12

* DJ Campbell – January 5

* Bilel Mohsni – December 31

The fragile, short-term nature of the current first-team squad can be seen by the fact a third of Saturday’s 18-man squad were made up of players who are due to leave Town by the end of next month.

Three of those six – Stephen Henderson, Bradley Orr and DJ Campbell – started the 2-0 defeat at Leeds United while Nigel Reo-Coker, Bilel Mohsni and Danny Higginbotham were on the bench at Elland Road.

The situation inherited by McCarthy highlights how reliant the current Ipswich team have been on the here-and-now, but the risky strategy has shown signs of working with the likes of Henderson and top scorer Campbell excelling recently.

Now McCarthy will be weighing up who he wants to keep at Portman Road and what he will need to do to persuade them that their future is best spent in Suffolk.

His own moves in January’s transfer window will be largely dictated by what the parent clubs – and each of the five loan players – want to do.

One of his top transfer priorities will be keeping hold of Campbell even though QPR boss Harry Redknapp has made overtures about wanting to retain the red-hot striker following his eight goals in 13 games for Town.

This means Blues fans will be pinning their hopes on the striker demanding a transfer from Loftus Road in the pursuit of regular first-team football.

McCarthy will have made plans for life with – and without – Campbell as well as the other four loanees on his books whose spells end in January.

Then there is Nigel Reo-Coker who has hardly enamoured himself to the Portman Road faithful after signing a three-month permanent deal in October.

It was largely felt at the time that the experienced former Premier League midfielder would use his short spell to win a return to the top flight.

But after largely under-performing in his games at Ipswich, Reo-Coker is at a crossroads in his career.

We understand the 28-year-old would now be open to an extended deal and McCarthy must decide whether to offer him another short-term offer, a longer contract or release him altogether.

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