Ex-players, bogey side and wounded Premier League clubs means tough start for Town

PAUL Jewell has been handed the toughest task as he looks to lead the Blues into an impressive new season – and earn himself a new contract.

The Town manager knows a good start to the 2012/13 Championship season is imperative as he enters the final 12 months of his current deal.

But he will have to do it the hard way after the Football League fixture list was unkind to the longest serving club in the second tier.

Ipswich first face troubled Blackburn Rovers on the opening day – the first time Town have had a curtain-raiser at Portman Road in four seasons and one that could entice the television cameras.

It doesn’t get any easier with consecutive away days, to bogey side Watford and then defeated play-off final side Blackpool, before Huddersfield – expected to be lead by Jordan Rhodes – visit Suffolk on September 1.

With Middlesbrough, Wolves and Charlton to follow in the season’s second month, Jewell could be facing an uphill battle to improve on last season’s disappointing 15th – and keep his job in the process with his contract up at the end of the season.

The opening fixtures show how difficult the Championship will be next year – with 18 of the league’s 24 teams having Premier League experience.

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Jewell said: “The Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in the game.

“It will be just as tough next year, possibly even tougher. You’ve got Sheffield Wednesday coming up, who are a massive club. Huddersfield have shown their ambition and Charlton were playing in the Premier League not so long ago.

“There are plenty of big clubs in this division who will feel they have the stadium and facilities worthy of the Premier League and getting back to that level will be the aim.”

The Town boss continues to scour at home and abroad in search of the new talent he hopes will inject an air of optimism around Portman Road following signs of progress in the second half of last season.