Points targets, uncertain futures and subplots... What to look out for in Town's final four

Town team members huddle at Shrewsbury.

Ipswich Town are ninth in the League One table with four games to go. - Credit: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town's play-of hopes are dead with four games to go. STUART WATSON outlines what is left to look out for this month.

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne prior to kick-off in the Sky Bet League One match at the AESSEAL

Town take on Paul Warne's Rotherham United, in South Yorkshire, on Saturday lunchtime. - Credit: PA

FINAL FOUR

First of all, a reminder of Town's final four fixtures.

On Saturday, it's Rotherham away. The game had originally been scheduled for Good Friday but was pushed back a day - and to a 12.30pm kick-off - after being selected for Sky Sports coverage.

The Millers, managed by Norwich fan Paul Warne, looked dead certs for automatic promotion back to the Championship come the end of February. But just five points from six games (W1 D2 L3) saw them slip to third place ahead of last night's trip to Portsmouth.

Next Tuesday night, the Blues host current table-toppers Wigan at Portman Road (7.45pm). At the time of print, the Latics had taken an impressive 30 points from their last 13 games. 

After that, on Saturday, April 23, the Blues travel to rock-bottom Crewe (3pm). The Railwaymen's relegation was confirmed last weekend and it was subsequently announced that long-serving manager David Artell had left the club. They've lost 15 of their last 16 matches.

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Then, to end the campaign, it's the visit of Charlton on Saturday, April 30 (12.30pm). The Addicks claimed just one point in a seven-game run during February/March, but have won four of their last six to climb to sit safely in 15th.

So two games against teams very much still fighting for promotion, followed by two dead rubbers. 

Kieran McKenna after the draw at Shrewsbury.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna, pictured after last weekend's 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury. - Credit: PAGEPIX LTD

TARGETS TO AIM FOR

First target... beat last season's finishing points total (69). The Blues need five more points to do that.

Second target... finish higher than ninth. That's where the Blues sat when the 2019/20 season was called to a halt, that's where they finished in 20/21 and that's the position they occupy right now. Eight points will give them a chance of securing eighth place.

Third target... reach 74 points. That total has been enough to secure a League One play-off spot in the previous 11 seasons. Even though it won't this time, it would be a decent mark to hit. Three wins will do that. 

Talking of three wins, can Ipswich string a trio of victories together? Town haven't managed that all season (everyone in the top-six has).

Another thing to look out for is to see if Ipswich can finish in the second half of the season top-six. The record under Kieran McKenna (W10 D6 L3), prior to last night's games, had the Blues sitting fifth in the last-19 form table (1st MK Dons 44pts, 2nd Wigan 41pts, 3rd Plymouth 38pts, 4th Sheff Weds 36pts, 5th Ipswich 36pts, 6th Rotherham 36pts, 7th Bolton 35pts). 

 

Town fans show their support ahead of the game.

Ipswich Town fans show their support ahead of the recent 1-0 home loss to Cambridge United. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

SELL SEASON TICKETS

The last 10 games at Portman Road have attracted crowds in excess of 20,000. Can that trend continue for the matches against Wigan and Charlton?

Season ticket sales for 2022/23 got off to a flying start, with more than 2,000 snapped up inside the first two days of release.

Can the club exceed their current season ticket number of around 13,800 going into the start of next season? A couple more days like Plymouth (and not like Cambridge) will certainly help that push.

It's worth remembering that the Blues have only lost three times on Suffolk soil in the league this campaign.

Macauley Bonne and James Norwood embrace, as the pair swap places with Bonne coming on as a second h

Strikers James Norwood and Macauley Bonne both face uncertain futures at Ipswich Town. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

UNCERTAIN FUTURES

Dominic Thompson, Tyreeq Bakinson, Bersant Celina and Macauley Bonne are all coming towards the end of loan deals, while Tom Carroll, Sone Aluko, James Norwood and Kayden Jackson are approaching the end of their contracts.

Jackson looked to have done enough to earn himself a new deal before his season-ending injury against Lincoln last month. It's not so black and white with the others.

McKenna will, no doubt, have a good idea about what he wants to do with each of them. But it's not impossible that one or two can still tip things one way or another over these last four matches.

Elkan Baggott during the warm-up at Oxford.

Will Elkan Baggott make his league debut for Ipswich Town at Rotherham this weekend? - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

HOMEGROWN PLAYERS

Will we see any academy graduates get some game time over these final four?

The door is ajar for centre-back Elkan Baggott following Cameron Burgess' daft dismissal at Shrewsbury last weekend. Will the 19-year-old be handed his league debut at Rotherham on Saturday? His height (6ft 4in) could be useful against the direct Millers. Or will Thompson slot into that back three?

It probably won't be until the dead rubbers against Crewe and Charlton that McKenna considers dipping further into the Under-23s.

Versatile midfielder Cameron Humphreys, goalscoring No.10 Tawanda Chirewa and striker Tyreece Simpson look to be the trio with the best chances of being involved in those final two squads.  

Scott Fraser has signed for Charlton Athletic

Scott Fraser left Ipswich Town to sign for Charlton in January. - Credit: CAFC

OTHER SUB-PLOTS

Can Ipswich win a game on TV this weekend? (They've won three of their past 34).

Will former players Will Keane (21 goals this season) and Scott Fraser (sold in January) have a say in the games against Wigan and Charlton respectively?

And will any opposition players impress so much that the Blues try and sign them this summer (remember Wes Burns for Fleetwood on the final day of last season)? 

Wigan Athletic's Will Keane shoots during the Sky Bet League One match at the DW Stadium, Wigan. Pic

Former Ipswich forward Will Keane has scored 21 goals for Wigan this season. - Credit: PA