Big names could put paid to Blues' hopes

IPSWICH Town will be rooting on Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Blackburn in the remaining weeks of the Premier League season.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town will be rooting on Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Blackburn in the remaining weeks of the Premier League season.

These three well-established top-flight clubs are in danger of dropping down to the Coca-Cola Championship.

And if any of them do they will surely reduce Town's hopes of promotion in 2009/10.

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West Brom look doomed for a quick return after promotion last summer, and such is the roller coaster nature of Tony Mowbray's side that they will be expected to use their parachute financial payments wisely and be in the thick of the Championship promotion race next term.

And if they are joined by two of the three heavyweight teams from the north, Ipswich's chances of fulfilling owner Marcus Evans' aim of a Premier League place will take some achieving over the next 15 months.

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Town fans will be advised to hope for defeats for Hull City and Stoke City, as relegation for last season's surprise packets is likely to affect them more than Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Blackburn.

It would not be a great shock to see Hull and Stoke scrape around in mid-table even though they will have a big financial advantage over most of their rivals.

But history suggests that Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Blackburn would react differently and would soon escape the second tier of English football if relegation does occur.

Portsmouth, Sunderland and Bolton are not out of trouble yet, and from Ipswich's point of view they would be better bets to come down than the above three.

Pompey are struggling financially and could be in serious trouble if they drop, while Sunderland were boosted briefly by Roy Keane's aggressive management but have been left still searching for a suitable leader.

And Bolton, despite having been in the top flight for some while, have still to convince that they can achieve long-term status post-Sam Allardyce.

It could well be that this season was the one to get out of the Championship with no great teams and every game there for winning.

Okay, Jim Magilton will be seeking to strengthen his side and improve home results in 2009/10, but this could be nullified by having stronger top-end opposition to compete with.

Ipswich look to have missed the boat although the relegation of Hull and Stoke will make their chances of success much brighter in the season ahead.

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