Could this be Keane’s last stand?

IPSWICH TOWN: Roy Keane will feel like General Custer when his Blues side takes on Premier League West Brom in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup at Portman Road tomorrow (kick-off 7.45pm).

It could be his last stand – as defeat would sentence his team, ambitious owner Marcus Evans and more importantly the fans to yet another mundane season.

Four consecutive defeats have knocked on the head early campaign hopes of moving up to enjoy life in the top flight next season while a third round FA Cup game at holders and aristocrats Chelsea has pulled the rug away from dreams of a run in that competition.

So it’s the last chance saloon for 2010/11 as far as Ipswich Town are concerned with defeat leaving Keane to fight a backs to the wall battle to protect his job.

And if he achieves to then win what at the moment looks like being a relegation battle.

A high number of Town fans are keeping faith with Keane but what was a noisy minority is gaining in numbers influenced in no small measure by the humiliating 4-1 defeat against arch rivals Norwich City on Sunday.

Town are outsiders tomorrow and in a no lose situation particularly as they will be depleted by injury and players being cup tied.

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But a heavy defeat would not go down well, and helped by adverse weather conditions the attendance figure is likely to show the apathy that currently surrounds the club.

What could be influencial in the way the club will be managed in the future is how fans react to any fifth straight Championship defeat on Saturday if Swansea City’s slick footballing style takes Keane’s side to the cleaners in a televised lunch time match.

A place in the Carling Cup semi-finals will be a notable achievement – getting to the quarter-finals is to be fair – and will give everybody a boost and keep the season alive.

Lose - however much it is expected – and the foreseeable future for ITFC looks as bleak as the current weather with a sixth season in a row proving nondescript.

It will be a weakened side that will take the field tomorrow with Marton Fulop joining Gareth McAuley, Connor Wickham, Mark Kennedy, Luke Hyam and Tom Eastman in the treatment room today.

Fulop suffered an ankle injury at Carrow Road while Darren O’Dea’s partner had still not given birth in Glasgow yesterday and Jack Colback, Jake Livermore, Gianni Zuiverloon and Rory Fallon are all cup tied and Damien Delaney suspended.

Brian Murphy is expected to return in goal having played well in all four previous rounds, with Troy Brown a likely starter and the likes of Colin Healy, Jamie Peters and Andros Townsend having big parts to play.

Ipswich have conceded 100 goals in the 75 games that Keane has been in charge and Delaney scored the club’s 400th Championship goal in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Norwich City.

He then became the fourth Blues player to be sent off against Norwich after John Wark, Drissa Diallo and Sito Castro.

Delaney is not going to appeal and will be eligible to face Swansea.

WHAT do you think? Have your say by e-mailing starsport@eveningstar.co.uk.

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