Jewell - ‘We’ve improved out of all recognition’

PAUL Jewell didn’t recognise his Ipswich Town team when he watched them on tape this week.

The Blues manager leads his side into action against Middlesbrough at Portman Road tonight (kick-off 7.45pm) looking for a fourth consecutive win that could take his side into the top half of the Championship table.

Since his arrival in early January Ipswich have virtually doubled their points tally from 28 to 55 in 16 games and risen from three points off the relegation zone to mid-table respectability.

Although stressing that there’s still room to improve further to make next season one to remember, Jewell revealed:

“I watched the tape of the first game that I was in charge at Millwall this week, and the team was unrecognisable.

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“There hasn’t been too many changes really, but the players have responded well.

“They were looking down the barrel at relegation to be brutally honest, and they looked like a team who were going to slip their way into trouble.

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“We would be somewhere near the play-offs looking at the points average since then.”

And asked what he majored on to bring about the improvement, Jewell explained: “There’s been a big improvement in the whole players’ demeanour and their confidence - they just needed picking up.

“I thought we were a bit milky, and we have still got that in our locker.

“When we come under a bit of pressure we go a little bit into our shell.

“I want us to try and be the other way because we are going to be under pressure in games at certain times.”

Jewell has confirmed that keeper Arran Lee-Barrett is to be offered a new contract after starring along with Josh Carson in the weekend win over Crystal Palace.

Jewell is to put a deadline on contract offers this week with replies awaited from Gareth McAuley, Damien Delaney, Colin Healy and Brian Murphy and with David Norris’ future still up in the air.

“I know where the players are coming from because they have been left a bit long to know whether they were going to get deals,” said Jewell.

“If any of the answers are ‘no’ – and I hope not - then I need to start moving forward to get other players in.”

Ronan Murray was offered a new deal before his current loan move to Torquay while Jewell plans to speak to out-of-contract Tom Eastman, Troy Brown, Conor Hourihane, Jack Ainsley, Luke Hyam and Reggie Lambe on a one-on-one basis in the near future.

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