Fans have become ‘12th man’ as Town look to make it five straight home wins

PAUL Jewell has heaped praise on Ipswich Town fans who he believes are finally getting rewarded for their patience.

A rollercoaster 2011/12 campaign has seen some impressive highs but also some dire times – including seven straight losses before Christmas.

But Town fans never turned on their team – or the manager – during the grim run which also saw another seven-match stretch without a win between Boxing Day and the end of January.

And the Ipswich boss yesterday recognised this show of support as he reflected on much happier recent times ahead of tonight’s visit of Burnley to Portman Road.

Galvanised by the hugely impressive 5-1 win over promotion contenders West Ham at the end of January, Jewell has overseen a great run of one defeat in nine – including four straight wins at home.

He said: “We’ve had some real poor performances this season – both home and away – but the supporters have always been there for us.

“You can tell they are really keen for us to have some success and they’ve played a huge part in our resurgent run of late.

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“The 12th man thing is an old clich�, but they really are and I think sometimes they underestimate the confidence they can give – or drain – from players. We’re lucky that our supporters have never got on the players’ backs.”

Jewell yesterday hinted he would bring in some fresh legs against Burnley in a match that could see Town go 14th, above the Clarets.

And with a number of options at his disposal, both in terms of changes to personnel and formation, the manager has some welcome, but tough, decisions to make.

But he said: “There are some good players who are not in out team and who are desperate to get in it. I want that real desire and competition for places to continue.

“I don’t want people sulking if they’re not playing, I want them fighting every day to get in the team.”