Blues banking on red-hot marksman

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton will be keeping his fingers crossed that striker Jon Stead continues his Portman Road goal run tomorrow.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton will be keeping his fingers crossed that striker Jon Stead continues his Portman Road goal run tomorrow.

Defeat for Town against Swansea at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm) would make it statistically highly improbable for the Blues to gain automatic promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship this season.

And it would leave them with a considerable mountain to climb to claim one of the four play-off places.

Stead has found the back of the net in his three home matches since his move from Sheffield United last month - with goals against Reading, Crystal Palace and Barnsley.

Town effectively reach the quarter stage of the league campaign against the in-form Swans currently boasting just 12 points from ten games.

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History has shown that at least 80 points are normally required to finish in the top two. And if so this would leave Jim Magilton's side to amass 68 points from 35 games if they fail to beat Swansea.

A tall order indeed to have to achieve an average of two points a match from here on in.

Twenty wins and eight draws would see 80 points reached - which would mean Town could afford to lose just seven more matches.

And Town accrued 85 points in 2004/05 and finished outside the top two!

To reach 70 points and give themselves a realistic chance of gaining a play-off place, Ipswich would only be able to lose ten more matches if they are beaten by promoted Swansea.

Town must start picking up soon to convince their dwindling support that they have what it takes to make an impression this term.

A goal - or two - from Stead tomorrow would be just what the doctor ordered, and keep realistic hopes alive of a successful 2008/09.

Town returned from the last international break in fine fettle beating Reading 2-0 and turning in their best display of the season.

To add to the pressure of gaining a result - and a win could lift Town into the top ten - their following two matches are away from home - at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and Plymouth next Saturday.

Ipswich's 20-year-old midfielder Liam Trotter is to have his loan at League Two Grimsby extended into a second month.

His initial month at Blundell Park was due to end tomorrow at Exeter but Grimsby manager Mike Newell confirmed: “We are signing Liam for another month because we think he has quality and there's a lot more to come from him.

“We have spoken to Ipswich and they are in agreement for him to stay on.”

Trotter, who has made five appearances for the Mariners, said: “I'm happy to be playing football, to be honest.

“This has been a good experience for me. It's a different league and a different style of football - very different to what I'm used to. But I've got a lot out of it.”

Jaime Peters has suffered a medial ligament injury and remains on the sidelines.

Likely squads tomorrow

Ipswich Town: R Wright, Supple, Volz, Naylor, Bruce, Balkestein, D Wright, McAuley, Walters, Campo, Norris, Miller, Quinn, Garvan, Shumulikoski, Stead, Counago, Lisbie, Haynes, Rhodes, Supple.

Swansea: De Vries, Williams, Painter, Monk, Rangel, Britton, Pratley, Orlandi, Gower, Gomez, Scotland, Tudur-Jones, Bauza, Pintado, Butler, Tate, Brandy, Krysiak.

Referee: Mr J Moss (West Yorkshire).