Jewell plays a dangerous game

IPSWICH Town’s gamble to operate with just two strikers for the rest of the season could back-fire.

IPSWICH Town’s gamble to operate with just two strikers for the rest of the season could back-fire.

Imagine what would happen if Town’s remaining two front-men - teenager Connor Wickham and veteran Jason Scotland - were to pick up injuries over the coming few weeks.

And imagine, horror of horrors, if both were to pull up lame during the weeks or even days leading up to Town’s one last big game of the season - the East Anglian derby on Thursday, April 21.

With rivals Norwich City gunning for automatic promotion to the Premier League, it would be unthinkable for Town to go into such a vital match with no recognised strikers.

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But that could happen.

Wickham, who celebrates his 18th birthday next Thursday, was nursed along by former boss Roy Keane – the Irishman was wary of putting too much strain on his teenage front-man, and so Wickham spent much of his time on the bench.

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But he has since started Town’s last 18 games, in addition to going away with England Under-21s over the last few days.

He collected his second cap for the Under-21s as an 87th minute substitute in Thursday night’s 4-0 win at Denmark, and he looks set to have a longer run-out in another international friendly at home to Iceland on Monday evening.

There is a danger, then, that the youngster could run out of puff during the run-in. Even manager Paul Jewell has admitted that he would be unlikely to start with Wickham for every game until the end of the season.

It is also unsatisfactory to rely on the fitness of 32-year-old Scotland, Town’s only other recognised senior striker. Even though he is Town’s leading scorer (nine goals), he has only scored twice since the turn of the year.

Of course on the one hand, it made reasonable sense to allow Tamas Priskin to sign on loan for Championship promotion hopefuls Swansea City, on transfer deadline day on Thursday.

It is likely that if Jewell is to be given the green light to buy a couple of strikers this summer, then he will have to off-load one of his current staff. And Priskin, a �1.7m purchase from Watford two years ago, has failed to settle into a groove at Portman Road.

Perhaps, then, Priskin’s move to Swansea might end up being a permanent one, especially as Swans boss Brendan Rodgers holds the Hungarian in high regard from their successful days together as manager-and-striker at Watford.

But it is still a dangerous game to rely on just two strikers, especially as there are no obvious stop-gap attackers on the books.

There are no potential would-be strikers, like in the mould of a Jason Dozzell, Mick Stockwell (normally midfielders) or Richard Naylor (now a defender) of past years.

Lee Martin, a natural winger, is perhaps a possibility, but not ideal.

I guess we will just have to keep our fingers crossed that both Wickham and Scotland stay fit.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Town have been linked with Dundee United winger Craig Conway.

Town boss Jewell has made it known that he would prefer to play a 4-4-2 system for next season, suggesting he is on the look-out for a winger as well as a new striker.

Conway is out of contract at Tannadice this summer, and has already attracted the interest of Glasgow giants Rangers, as well as Championship clubs Middlesbrough and Cardiff. Both Rangers and Cardiff had bids turned down for the 25-year-old Scottish international during the January transfer window.

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