Ipswich Town striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is ready to return to action again

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake with Ipswich Town assistant physio Alex Chapman

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake with Ipswich Town assistant physio Alex Chapman - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is ready to return to the squad for Saturday’s game at Barnsley.

The 27-year-old – twice a Golden Boot winner in the Championship – suffered a hamstring injury less than half an hour into his debut for the Blues last month, the 1-1 home draw with Preston in the FA Cup third round.

That was his first competitive game in more than nine months, the front man having fractured his leg and sustained ankle ligament damage playing for former club Wolves on April 1 last year.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy – the man who paid £1.5m to bring Ebanks-Blake to Molineux in January 2008 – beat a number of Championship rivals to the proven goalscorer’s signature just before Christmas.

And while his early injury set-back was a blow, the striker has been working hard with assistant physio Alex Chapman to return to full fitness and he’s now ready to be considered for selection once again.

Luke Hyam has also returned to training, having missed the last three matches with the deep cut he sustained to his leg in the 1-0 defeat at Millwall, while fellow midfielder Cole Skuse has suffered no ill effects from the concussion which forced him off in the first half of last weekend’s 1-0 home win over Bolton.

The trio’s return is a welcome boost to McCarthy ahead of the busy run-in. The Blues boss has used the joint-fewest players in the division so far this season (24) and had only 16 fit outfield first teamers available last weekend following loanee Ryan Tunnicliffe’s recall by Manchester United and subsequent sale to Fulham.

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Town are currently four points adrift of the play-off places with 17 games to go, Saturday’s trip to Oakwell followed by the visit of Blackpool (16th) and then a trip to league-leaders Leicester. Then follows a hectic March schedule made up of seven games in 29 days (including lengthy trips to Middlesbrough and Yeovil).

Following last Saturday’s win, McCarthy took his players to Portugal for a four-day warm-weather training camp – something that worked to great effect for him during his Championship title-winning season (2008/09) at former club Wolves.

A number of Blues players – including Scott Loach, Paul Taylor and Ebanks-Blake – were unable to join the squad in the Algarve due to passport issues, the aforementioned duo playing as over-age players in the Under-21 side’s 2-2 draw with Millwall at Playford Road on Tuesday.

The ‘emergency’ loan window is available to Football League clubs as of Saturday, with McCarthy keen to strengthen his small squad with the addition of a player or two on 93-day deals.