Can we stay up there? - Keane

THE hard work is only just starting.

THE hard work is only just starting.

Ipswich Town may have forced themselves back into the top six, with a third of the season complete, but the biggest challenges still lie ahead.

Town rose to sixth in the table, following Saturday’s gritty 2-1 win at Sheffield United, and tonight they entertain an in-form Derby County, who are on a roll and up to fourth.

It’s a mouth-watering contest, and one which could give an indication of whether Town have the necessary ingredients to stay in the promotion mix for the rest of the season.

“A lot of teams get into the top six, but what you have to do is stay there,” insisted Keane.

“That’s the big challenge I put to the players now – can you stay there?

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“Teams have good starts to the season, but you’ve got to keep it up.

“We see that in every league all over the world, you’ve got to stay at it. The top teams stay at it.

“And we have shown a good side to us over the last few weeks.

“I take nothing away from our players. A couple of weeks ago, everyone around us was panicking. But there was no need to panic, and we have steadied the ship.

“Now we want to just keep plugging away, as we did on Saturday, to keep getting a few points on the board and then see where it takes us,” added Keane.

The Town boss will delay picking his team until a few hours before kick-off, following a light training session this morning to gauge the fitness of his walking wounded.

Midfielder David Norris missed the victory at Bramall Lane, due to an ankle injury, and he could well miss out again against a Derby side who have won four of their last five games.

Defender Tom Eastman (hip) and midfielder Grant Leadbitter (tweaked hamstring) also face late fitness tests, but Keane has good options in his squad..

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