Damien Delaney needs big game to keep Euro 2012 hopes alive

DAMIEN Delaney is facing a crucial 90 minutes tonight in his fight to end the season starring in the European Championships.

The defender has been forced to watch an improving Town from the sidelines in recent weeks.

But after Ibrahima Sonko was ruled out for up to a month, and with Blues boss Paul Jewell unable to bring in a loanee before tonight’s trip to Portsmouth (7.45pm ko), Delaney will be handed another chance.

And he knows his hopes of appearing in the championships rests on him keep his place until the end of the season.

Delaney said: “I have to be playing at Ipswich, if I’m not then I have no chance of going to the Euros.”

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Jewell yesterday made no secret of the fact that he had attempted to bring in a new defender – contacting two clubs on Sunday morning but seeing his advances knocked back.

He said: “I’ve always said to the players, when you think it’s not going your way you’ve got to keep fighting because you never know when you might get an opportunity. Damien gets his chance tomorrow and it’s up to him to take it.”

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And while the pressure will be on Smith and Delaney, Town’s only fit recognised centre-backs, Jewell has called on his entire team to step up to the plate, adding:

“We’ve had trouble with our back four and the way we’ve conceded goals, but there’s more to it than that.

“It’s been about how the whole team defends and I think what we’ve done better in the last two games is defende from the front – with Chops (Michael Chopra), JET and Murph (Daryl Murphy) closing people down better. That has certainly helped the back four.”

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