COMMENT: Defenceless! Paul Jewell has once again left himself short at the back

Ipswich v Huddersfield: COMPETITION for places may now be fierce in the final third, but Ipswich Town head into today’s game against Huddersfield Town with a threadbare defence.

The arrival of versatile attacking duo Paul Taylor (�1.5million, Peterborough) and Daryl Murphy (Celtic, loan) this week will certainly keep the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Lee Martin and Michael Chopra on their toes.

Goalscoring has not been the real problem in recent months though, it’s been the soft goals conceded that have cost the Blues dearly.

So there were more than a few eyebrows raised when manager Paul Jewell allowed Damien Delaney to join Crystal Palace on a free transfer without having a replacement lined up.

The Blues boss now has just two centre-backs in the form of Luke Chambers and Tommy Smith, while inexperienced youngsters Joe Whight and Jack Ainsley provide the cover at full-back – the latter set to deputise at right-back for the injured duo of Carlos Edwards and Elliott Hewitt today.

It leaves the Blues in exactly the same situation they were in this time last year, with Jewell having to rush out and sign the likes of Danny Collins on loan and Ibrahima Sonko on a free transfer.

The loan window opens again next Friday, with only Football League clubs allowed to trade.

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Conscious of the fact that supporters aren’t keen on their side being filled with players only here for the short-term, Jewell insists that he will try to set up deals with a view to a permanent switch in January.

The EADT understands that Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger – who was close to joining the Blues back in January – could arrive over the coming weeks on such a deal.

However, with loan deals now limited to a maximum of 93 days, Town’s back-line will definitely be stretched over the demanding Christmas period whatever happens.

“I know people might scratch their heads and think we’ve left ourselves a little bit short at centre-back, but we’ll address that situation,” insisted Jewell. “I know we need to improve the squad still and that will happen.”

With Championship rivals splashing the cash this week, Jewell – who saw a deal for Peterborough midfielder George Boyd fall down after a failure to agree personal terms – said: “We’re not penny pinching, we’re just trying to do things properly. I’m not going to spend money that isn’t there and put the club at risk – I don’t think fans want that.

“I take responsibility for who we target and sign. If we can’t arrange a deal with these players, we can’t arrange a deal. You can’t have every player you want.

“The fact is there are a lot of clubs in the Championship with greater spending power than us. I’m well aware we still need a couple of defenders, though.”

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