Delaney agrees new deal as slim playoff hopes remain

BEAT Norwich City on Thursday and Ipswich Town will be just three points adrift of the play-offs.

It might seem inconceivable that Town could gate-crash the top six, given their plight of just 10 weeks ago, when League One football looked just as likely as Championship football for next season.

Games are fast running out – just four left which means a mere 12 points to play for – so it would require an amazing set of results for Town to rise from 12th to sixth over the last three weeks.

Manager Paul Jewell, despite watching his side clinch a fourth victory in their last five games, at Bristol City on Saturday. admitted that a play-off push was “highly unlikely.”

Josh Carson’s wonder strike, a 30-yard shot delivered on 53 minutes, was too good for ex-England keeper David James, and it was sufficient to lift Town to within six points of sixth-placed Leeds.

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But Jewell was not getting carried away, even though the win was achieved with just 10 men due to Lee Martin’s earlier dismissal.

“I haven’t mentioned the play-offs. I don’t even know how many points we are off them!” confessed Jewell, during the post-match Press conference at Ashton Gate.

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But on learning that his team had moved to within six points of the top six, Jewell added: “When we got here (he was appointed on January 10), we had to make sure that we didn’t get relegated.

“We have four games left, and if we win them all then you never know. But it’s entirely unlikely, let’s be brutally honest.

“In fact, I think I prefer answering the relegation questions!” joked Jewell.

While Saturday’s result was a boost for Town’s short-term future, Jewell also had some good news surrounding the longer term issue of players’ contracts.

The Liverpudlian revealed that Damien Delaney had all-but agreed to a new deal, with fellow defender Gareth McAuley likely to follow suit. Keeper Brian Murphy and midfielders David Norris Colin Healy are others currently mulling over new deals.

“I spoke to Damien Delaney on Friday,” explained Jewell.

“We are more or less agreed. Well, we are agreed.

“Definitely by Monday or Tuesday at the latest we will have some news, about both of them (Delaney and McAuley), or three or even four or five of them.

“The thing I have to stress here is that the players are not being greedy, and they are not holding the club to ransom.

“We shouldn’t have been in this situation, but we are, and I think as a club we have all got to learn from it,” added Jewell.

n See inside Green’Un supplement for Bristol City v Town match report, and looking ahead to the East Anglian derby.

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