Fitness first, form second

IPSWICH TOWN are topping the Championship fitness stakes but manager Paul Jewell has revealed the statistic makes for grim reading on the pitch.

The struggling Blues have covered the most ground in the division, made the highest number of sprints and taken part in the most high speed runs so far, this season.

However, the figures do not tally with Town’s form and manager Jewell believes a tighter retention of the ball would save his players’ legs and give them more opportunities to impose themselves in games.

Ipswich host fellow strugglers Coventry City in front of the SKY TV cameras on Monday evening and the former Wigan and Derby manager has urged his side to take more care on the ball.

“We have had the Prozone statistics from the start of the season and we are the team that have covered the most ground,” said Jewell.

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“We have performed the highest number of sprints, made the longest high speed runs and made the most number of sprints and in two other categories, we are in the top five.

“But the reason for that is because we run around so much because we are giving the ball away so cheaply.

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“In training we knock the ball around, pass and move, and it is great but, at the minute, we are giving the ball away too much in matches and therefore we are having to cover huge amounts of ground.

“We are treading water at times in games because we are running so far.”

Jewell’s side are currently struggling in 18th position, just a point off the relegation zone, and while they lead the way in their off the ball exertions their technical side leaves a lot to be desired.

“You look at some of the teams at the top of the division and they are at the bottom when it comes to the fitness stats,” explained Jewell.

“But they are top of the league when it comes to technical stats and keeping possession and that is what it is all about. We have been too cheap giving the ball away.”

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