Ipswich Town are in Championship mini league with Brentford, Wolves and Nottingham Forest

Freddie Sears

Freddie Sears

Ipswich Town striker Freddie Sears thinks the Blues are now embroiled in a Championship mini league after conceding Mick McCarthy’s team are almost out of the race for an automatic promotion spot.

Ipswich’s hopes of finishing in the top two were dented following Saturday’s 4-1 reverse at Middlesbrough – the top three sides now eight points clear of Mick McCarthy’s men.

Seventh-placed Town are a point and a place outside the division’s play-off zone, with Brentford just above them.

Wolves are two points below the Blues and Nottingham Forest and Blackburn a further five points behind the Black Country club.

With just one win in six and only four league wins in 2015, Town face a tricky-looking proposition at Portman Road tonight when a much-improved Bolton Wanderers side visit Suffolk.

The Trotters have won 11 and drawn six of Neil Lennon’s 27 league games in charge, having been bottom of the league when the former Celtic boss arrived at the Macron Stadium in October.

Sears, who believes there were positives to take out of Saturday’s defeat on Teeside, has not ruled out a late assault on the top two, but admitted Town’s task has been made much harder.

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“Until it is out of our reach we will keep going but realistically it might be a little bit too far now,” said Sears.

“I think there are three teams (Bournemouth, Watford and Middlesbrough) who are eight points in front of us, so it’s a tough ask, but we will keep battling and for us, we are in a mini league now with Brentford, Wolves and obviously Forest.”

While there was clear disappointment after Saturday’s game, Brentford’s home defeat to Cardiff and Wolves’ draw at Brighton ensured Town stayed right in the mix for the play-offs, while fifth-placed Norwich’s 1-1 home draw with Derby, in fourth, didn’t really help either of that duo.

“I don’t think we played that bad at Middlesbrough and to lose 4-1 was disappointing,” added Sears.

“It was a blow to our top two chances but seeing Brentford lose and Wolves fail to win gave us a boost again.

“The manager had his say this morning and was not happy about a few things, but we have to draw a line under it and we have a great opportunity to get back on track against Bolton.”

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