Good things come in small packages – Ipswich Town’s numbers may be lacking, but boss Mick McCarthy still believes his low-budget Blues can make the top six (if they stay injury free)

Ipswich Town v Reading
Ipswich town manager Mick McCarthy

Football Ipswich Town v Reading Ipswich town manager Mick McCarthy - Credit: Lucy taylor

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy may have seen his small squad further depleted by the departure of Ryan Tunnicliffe on transfer deadline day, but he still believes his low-budget outfit has what it takes to finish in the top six.

Tunnicliffe was recalled by parent club Manchester United and sold to Fulham yesterday, with the Blues unable to sign a replacement – Leeds United’s Paul Green understood to have been a target – before the 11pm deadline.

The ‘emergency’ loan window does open again next Tuesday, allowing clubs to sign players on 93-day deals, but for now McCarthy has just 16 fit outfield first team players to select from for this afternoon’s visit of struggling Bolton to Portman Road.

McCarthy has done superbly to steer his low-budget outfit to within just four points of the play-off places at the 28-game mark, but does he feel his squad has the depth to maintain their push during a busy run-in?

“We had 16 (outfield) players training today but I’m not complaining,” said McCarthy. “I haven’t got many players; if I keep them all fit I’ve got a good squad, if I don’t I could suffer a little bit. I don’t know what’s in front of me unfortunately.

“What are my hopes? Playing in the Premier League next year. Of course it is. I might as well not be here if I didn’t think that.

“We’re seventh in the league, could nick in the play-off places and if we did I think we’d be a threat to anybody. We could end up finishing 12th, 14th though – I have no idea because that’s the way this league is.

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“We’re doing it at the moment aren’t we? We’re seventh in the league so I don’t have to big us up at all. If we couldn’t compete at the top we’d be down in 18th or something. I think the players have done remarkably well.

“It’s not a big squad, but we’ve got Sylvan (Ebanks-Blake) and Luke Hyam to come back from injury. No-one is sat up the stand thinking they’re not going to play and that keeps a tight-knit feel to things.

“March is a bit of a bonkers schedule, that could be a bit testing, but we’re fine.”

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