Character? What character?

ROY Keane has called for his players to show more "character," in a bid to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

ROY Keane has called for his players to show more "character," in a bid to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

But "character" has been in short supply at Portman Road, when analysing the number of times that Ipswich Town have rallied from falling a goal behind this season.

When the going gets tough, Town have too often been found wanting.

That must change.

Keane's men have only battled back from a goal down to win two matches this season, and they have only recovered from conceding the opening goal to record draws in five games.

That is not a proud record. It certainly suggests that more of Keane's "character" is required if Town are to get themselves out of their current predicament.

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They dropped into the bottom three, following Reading's 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

"It won't be good players that get us out of the mess we are in, it will be good characters," insisted Keane.

"For the last 20 to 25 minutes (3-1 defeat at Peterborough), I never felt we were going to get back into it, which was disappointing, because if anything I've been full of praise for the players because they've showed a brilliant attitude.

"But the second half just seemed to die out and we can't put our finger on it.

"We live in the real world, and we defend each other, but we had nearly 3,000 fans come to watch us," added Keane, with reference to Town's excellent away support at London Road.

While Town have seen 1-0 leads end in the disappointment of 1-1 draws in six matches this term, they have only managed the reverse on three occasions - the home games against Preston and Swansea, and the trip to Plymouth in October.

The only other times when Town have rallied from a goal down to secure a point were both unsatisfactory -the 3-3 away draws at Doncaster and Sheffield United both felt like defeats, due to the loss of late goals.

Shining brightly like lonely beacons, in an otherwise dark landscape, are Town's only two examples of claiming victories after conceding the opening goal.

The 2-1 win at Cardiff, in late November, remains arguably the most spirited display by Keane's team this season, thanks to second half goals from Jon Walters and Jon Stead.

And Town also recovered from the loss of a second minute goal against Coventry City, to secure a 3-2 home win a month ago, although that was only due to a winner from Pablo Counago in the seventh minute of injury time.

The euphoria that greeted Counago's late winner against the Sky Blues seems a very long time ago!

Town have 16 games left in which to save themselves from the ignominy of relegation to League One. They will probably to have win six of these, to avoid the drop, and it has taken them 30 fixtures to win their first six.

Keane's plea for more "character" must be heeded straight away, starting with tomorrow's trip to Sheffield Wednesday.