BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Paul Jewell looks for a 90-minute performance at Crystal Palace
PAUL Jewell is delighted that his side has finally shown an consistent run of “promotion form” since January’s 5-1 thrashing of West Ham.
But the Blues boss does not have a short memory.
He is acutely aware that all the improvements in the last two-and-a-half months have been marred by some nightmare performances earlier in the season.
Jewell must now look to find a greater consistency from his team if his Ipswich side are going to challenge for honours next year.
He said: “We’ve taken 28 points out of the last 15 matches – you do the maths, over the course of a season that would equate to 80-something points, which would be promotion form.
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“This third of the season has been good, but it wasn’t that long ago we were in relegation form. We’ve had some real good performances and results, but we’ve also had some real poor performances and results.”
Ahead of today’s trip to Crystal Palace, Jewell’s immediate problem is fixing his side’s recent inconsistency in matches.
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He explained: “We’ve found a little bit of consistency, but the issue has still not gone away completely. Look at the (recent) Watford, Derby and Leicester games – we were excellent in the first half of those matches, but second half we were very average. You’re not going to dominate games for 90 minutes, but we’ve got to be in games longer than 45 minutes.
“Southampton and Reading have been the two most consistent teams in the league and that’s why they are where they are.”
Today’s match comes as many Town fans are calling for a greater injection of youth.
Ironically, they face a Palace side who have no such problem with manager Dougie Freedman having little choice but to place his trust in his young Eagles.
Having impressed the country by getting to the Carling Cup semi-final, their season has plateaued somewhat winning just three league matches since missing out on a Wembley date with Liverpool courtesy of divisional rivals Cardiff City.
And their cause has not been helped by having four players – ex-Ipswich favourite David Wright, Jonathan Williams, Mile Jedinak and Anthony Gardner – all missing for the rest of the season.
But matters could be helped with the return of Paul McShane (hip) to the heart of the defence and Jonathan Parr (flu) at left-back.
Dean Moxey and Matthew Parsons are the two likely to miss out from the side that lost at home to Southampton last week.
Palace boss Dougie Freedman is likely to continue with danger man Wilfried Zaha and latest young gun Kyle De Silva on each flank with Sean Scannell moved upfront.
But sources close to the club have suggested the manager might give Mexican forward Antonio ‘Pedro’ Pedroza a chance in a bid to cure his home sickness.
Jewell has no such injury problems with Jaime Peters and Jimmy Bullard his oly two absentees – and neither were likely to figure.
The Town boss, who could recall Andy Drury, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Lee Martin to the starting line-up, is predicting a tough game thought admits Palace are arguably more dangerous on the road.
He explained: “I think Dougie has done a great job there. He’s got one or two promising youngsters that are going to be worth a lot of money and some good experienced players at this level.
“They’ve been opposite to us really, they’ve been very tight at the back and scored goals through counter-attacking football.”
- Follow @davegoods and @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for all the latest team news, reports and reaction from Selhurst Park this afternoon