Jewell’s challenge to team – show me you are worth keeping

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell has called upon his players to convince him that he needs only tinker with his squad – not give it a complete facelift – this summer.

The Blues started the season as many peoples’ tips for a promotion push, but they have only recently pulled themselves away from a relegation fight.

Five wins from the last six games has shown that perhaps the Suffolk side aren’t quite as far off the pace as first thought.

And although a mid-table finish beckons, Town players still have much to play for over the remaining 13 games.

“We’re aware that we need to strengthen if we are going to be better next year,” said Jewell. “People like Andy Drury and Luke Hyam have only done themselves good by playing well though.

“It can never do you harm by playing well – whether that’s keeping your place here or getting yourself a move somewhere else.”

Meanwhile, the future of a number of Town players rapidly approaching the end of their contracts continues to be uncertain.

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With the likes of Carlos Edwards, Grant Leadbitter and Tommy Smith still waiting on offers of a new deal, Jewell said: “If you play well you’re always going to put something in the manager’s mind.

“It really is up to the players to put themselves in the shop window. It’s up to them to think ‘if you think there is somebody else out there better than me, I’ll prove you wrong’.”

Refusing to be drawn on whether speculation linking him with Aston Villa’s American goalkeeper Brad Guzan was true, Jewell said: “We know that we need to get a long-term goalkeeper. I thought Alex (McCarthy) did okay on Saturday, but his long-term future is at Reading.

“We need to nail down the goalkeeper position because that’s not something we’ve been able to do this season. We have got targets in mind.”

Asked if he felt he was beginning to build something at Portman Road, Jewell joked: “I think we’re just laying the first bricks, maybe even the foundations aren’t down, actually we’ve just been given planning permission! And that was after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from the council!

“There is a long, long way to go, but we are playing with confidence and renewed vigour at the moment. We want to try and have

a good finish to the season.

“There are lots of ups and downs in any season, we seem to have had more than our fair share – both on the pitch and off the pitch – and it would be nice next to get a clear run at things on the pitch.

“I think we’ve shown what we’re capable of in small patches. If we are going to be successful over 46 games though we have to do it more consistently because at the moment you never know which Ipswich Town is going to turn up.

“Whenever we haven’t played well this season we’ve lost matches. You’re not going to play well every game, but the successful teams still manage to get points when they’re not at the top of their game – just look at Southampton and West Ham.

“That’s where we’ve got to get to. We’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous too many times this season and you’re never going to be challenging at the top end if that’s the case.”