Jewell’s reign has yet to really take off

IF Ipswich Town make it five consecutive wins against Cardiff City at the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 5.20pm) they will not move up from their 14th mid-table position in the Championship.

But they will move to 45 points and within touching distance of securing their place in the second tier of English football next term.

The sooner this can be achieved the better as work can then start on building a squad that has what it takes to make a serious promotion challenge in 2011/12.

Manager Paul Jewell has confirmed that initial brief was to keep Ipswich in the Championship this season, and he has also made it plain that decisions on senior players who are out of contract in June will not be made until safety has been reached.

Securing the likes of David Norris, Gareth McAuley, Damien Delaney, Carlos Edwards and Colin Healy into next season and beyond is surely paramount in Jewell’s thoughts as he builds the squad he wants for next season.

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As soon as 50 points have been reached Jewell will upgrade his search for the four or five players he has indentified as the ones he wants to bring in during the summer months.

The chances are the potential newcomers, which are likely to include at least two strikers, will join forces with the likes of Norris, McAuley, Delaney, Edwards and Healy when the new season kicks-off in August.

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Every one has expressed a desire to stay at Portman Road even though rival clubs may already have made contact with 21 current Town players available on a free transfer from July 1.

And the players’ wishes were endorsed by team mate Lee Martin, who confirmed at the weekend that those out of contract are ‘desperate to stay with Ipswich’ and be part of the good times that could well be around the corner under Jewell.

Jewell has still to negotiate the financial implications of accruing a squad good enough to match the Cardiff’s and Queens Park Rangers’ of this world, and it might mean that a couple of players may need to be sold to bring in some cash.

These would be ones looked upon to be surplus to requirements by Jewell and would not include 17-year-old Connor Wickham who is set to spend at least another season at Portman Road – unless an off from a Premier League club goes through the roof.

Jewell will have benefitted from a free mid-week having worked on tactics with his troops this week, before the Blues go head long into a run of games again with Reading at home on Tuesday, Leeds away next Saturday and Watford at Portman Road on Tuesday March 15.

The last time Town failed to beat Cardiff was in December 2008 under the management of Jim Magilton when they lost 2-1 at home, but if they fail to take three points against an automatic promotion pushing Welsh side tomorrow they are likely to slip down the table with a host of clubs just below them.

Preston and Scunthorpe, who have still to come to Portman Road, and Sheffield United look doomed to relegation even at this stage with 13 games or so to go and Town can surely keep above them with the confident football they are playing.

But nothing is being taken for granted.

As soon as 50 points is reached, Jewell’s reign will really take off.

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