Left back poser for Keane

Blues boss Roy Keane must decide who to play at left back in tomorrow's Championship game at Deepdale against Preston (kick-off 3pm).

Elvin King

BLUES boss Roy Keane must decide who to play at left back in tomorrow's Championship game at Deepdale against Preston (kick-off 3pm).

This is the one area of the field where Keane feels he is particularly short having used David Wright, Pim Balkestein and Jaime Peters in that position over the last two games.

A fully fit Ben Thatcher would on paper be an ideal addition to the side to add a left-sided balance to what has become in recent weeks a strong last line of defence.

But Thatcher has only just started playing matches after suffering a bad knee injury last April, and the indications are that his reluctance to have a second base in the Ipswich area rules the London-based player out of serious contention for a place in Keane's side.

With hamstring victim Jon Walters out until next weekend at the earliest, Peters is a good bet to play on the right side of midfield, which makes Balkestein the favourite to be named at left back to counteract the physical presence of the Preston front line.

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The right-footed Wright has done a good job when asked to fill in and will certainly be in contention.

Peters has enjoyed a remarkable transformation after being a virtually forgotten figure during Jim Magilton's last two years in charge of the Blues.

The Canadian international did not figure in Magilton's plans at all, and was not brought back into the fold until Magilton's last game against Norwich last April, and this was because of injuries.

Peters has began the last eight matches - a sequence that is set to be stretched whether at left back or further forward.

Owen Garvan will be in consideration to return; with his performance on the right side of midfield in the home win over Coventry City two weeks ago earning good reports.

With Jack Colback on the other flank and Grant Leadbitter and David Norris foraging away in the middle it took Town's midfield to levels that were a 100 miles away from what they were producing last August.

Up front Keane has his usual posers. Jon Stead and Pablo Counago may well get the vote again as they both worked diligently against West Brom in Tuesday's 1-1 draw.

But Keane needs goals, and Tamas Priskin and Stern John could get a look in with the use of the latter a good indication on whether he will be kept on loan to the end of the season.

Connor Wickham is unlikely to feature with Tuesday's FA Youth Cup home game against Fulham in mind.

Town players had a day off yesterday with Keane finalising his line-up after training today before his squad make their journey north this afternoon.

Tomorrow's likely squads

Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Carter, St Ledger, Hart, Mawene, Wallace, Chaplow, Mellor, Brown, Welbeck, Parkin, Collins, Chilvers, Henderson, Mayor, Barton, Sedgwick, Davidson.

Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett, Rosenior, McAuley, Delaney, Balkestein, D Wright, Bruce, Peters, Leadbitter, Norris, Colback, Garvan, Edwards, Martin, Quinn, Counago, Stead, Priskin, John, McLoughlin.

Referee: Mr J Moss (Yorkshire)

Ipswich record at Preston

P11 W1 D5 L5 F10 A18