Keane: ‘I dread to think where we would be without Jon’

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues manager Roy Keane has hailed Newcastle United worthy champions on the day the teams meet in their penultimate Championship games of conflicting seasons at St James Park this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

And Keane has stressed how important skipper Jon Walters and loan players Jack Colback and Daryl Murphy have been as Town have raised themselves from the foot to the middle of the table.

“Newcastle have been the best team by far, and they are worthy champions,” said Keane.

“They’re got one of the biggest squads and they haven’t been beaten at home all season.

“It’s no surprise they’ve won the league. The experience they have on their books should not be under-estimated.”

Town were thrashed 4-0 in front of live BBC television cameras in the corresponding fixture last September, and Keane has his fingers crossed going into today’s match that is expected to draw a capacity 52,000 crowd.

“We’re hoping its not going to be the same scoreline when as strong as Newcastle were, we were particularly poor.

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“My players responded well after that.

“There was disappointment that day, but it helped us in some ways as the signs were there about how far we had to go, and how strong Newcastle were.”

Keane is expected to name two or three young players on the bench with Damien Delaney, Carlos Edwards and David Healy all unavailable.

He will be looking to blood them with next season in mind, but knows the worth of a number of his most valued players.

Keane explained: “Six or seven of my squad have achieved more than their fair share.

“I dread to think where we would be without Jon Walters.

“And God help us, where we would be without loan players. The Jack Colbacks and Daryl Murphys, they’ve all contributed. I have to say we’re going to miss them!

“The stats show that with certain players in the team our chances of winning are much higher.”

Keane has also said how much he values – as well as Walters, Colback and Murphy – Gareth McAuley, Grant Leadbitter, Damien Delaney, Connor Wickham, David Norris, Brian Murphy and David Wright.

Reflecting on his thoughts for today’s match, Keane went on: “My younger players should be rubbing their hands at playing in a game like this one looks set to be.

“Newcastle will be looking to finish the job off and they certainly won’t be going easy on us.

“It’s the toughest away game in the Championship.”

Today’s likely squads

Newcastle United: Harper, Williamson, Enrique, Simpson, Routledge, Barton, Guthrie, Nolan, Carroll, Smith, Kadar, Best, Ameobi, Pancrate, R Taylor, Krul, Lovenkrands, Coloccini, Gutierrez.

Ipswich Town: B Murphy, D Wright, McAuley, Smith, Peters, O’Connor, Rosenior, Walters, Norris, Leadbitter, Colback, Garvan, Martin, D Murphy, Wickham, Counago, Eastman, Clark, Hyam, Brown, R Wright.

Mr C Boyeson (East Midlands)

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