Missing you already, Jon

IF Blues supporters have any doubts about how much of a miss skipper Jon Walters will be only have to look at the stats.

IF Blues supporters have any doubts about how much of a miss skipper Jon Walters will be only have to look at the stats.

The 26-year-old injured a hamstring in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup defeat at League One Southampton and will miss only his second Championship start of the season when West Brom visit Portman Road.

Walters' only other absence was the Boxing Day 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace when he was suspended - Town's only loss in their last 14 league matches.

Not only does Walters do his share of defensive work he can also play effectively wide in midfield as well as a front man in a 4-4-2 formation.

He is joint top scorer with Jon Stead on six goals, and his importance to the team is highlighted by the number of shots he has had on target this campaign - 32.

This is more than any of his team mates, and with 58 attempts on goal in total this campaign it is evident what a danger man he is.

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Grant Leadbitter comes next with 46 followed by Jon Stead on 39, Connor Wickham 30 and then Pablo Counago and Gareth McAuley both on 23.

Town manager Roy Keane is well aware that Walters will be missed. He said: “We certainly missed him on Saturday, but we've got to get on with it.

“That's football and it's a poor excuse. We have to learn how to do better without him.”

Keane has said that he doesn't intend to make too many changes from Saturday's side but Alex Bruce is a strong candidate to come in at the back with Lee Martin in line for a restart.

Midfielder David Norris will be back after being 'rested' at St Mary's Stadium.

Jon Stead - leading scorer with Walters - is available again after completing a four-match suspension, and he could come straight back in to partner Pablo Counago, who has scored after coming on as substitute in Town's two previous games.

Tamas Priskin was back in favour at Southampton with Keane saying that he did well as a late substitute but was given limited service.

Stern John and Connor Wickham will also come into the equation up front, but they would appear to be outsiders for a starting place.

Acting skipper Grant Leadbitter took an ankle knock at the weekend, but is expected to be available with keeper Brian Murphy more likely to play in a practice game later this week than be on the bench tonight.

“I'll see what the body language is in training before finalising my side,” said Keane. “I have the basis of it in my own mind.”

Owen Garvan found himself out in the cold for three months after the 2-0 defeat at the Hawthorns in August. Keane praised his approach, saying: “Owen has done well in the last few weeks.

“We had lots of problems earlier season in midfield and were very poor at West Brom. Owen had a difficult first couple of months.”

- ROY Keane would now be looking ahead to facing his former club if Ipswich Town and Sunderland had won last weekend's FA Cup games. Their respective conquerors - Southampton and Portsmouth - have been drawn to meet in the fifth round.