New guns hold no fear for Keane

IPSWICH Town already know four of their six new opponents for next season, and by this evening they will know the fifth.

No fewer than five clubs are vying for the right to join League One champions Norwich City in the automatic promotion zone during today’s final round of matches.

But while the quintet of Leeds United, Millwall, Swindon Town, Charlton and Huddersfield battle it out between them, with the four unsuccessful candidates then entering the lottery of the play-offs, Town boss Roy Keane is optimistic about his own team’s chances against the new guns.

And that’s because the Irishman holds no fears about the three clubs already relegated from the Premier League - Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull City.

Pompey are lumbered a with a crushing debt of �135m, having become the first Premier League club to enter administration in February, while Hull face a fight to avoid administration with reported debts of �35m.

Tigers chairman Adam Pearson is planning a major financial restructuring of the club this summer.

Of the three relegated clubs, only Burnley remain in a fairly healthy financial state. The Clarets did not over-spend during their one season in the top flight.

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Keane confirmed: “When you consider the teams coming down, I don’t think they’ll be expected to automatically go back up.

“I think West Brom and Newcastle were almost the two certainties to go up this year, with the others fighting for just one position.

“That might not be the same next year, with a couple of the clubs coming down seeming to have financial problems.

“So this summer is a big summer for our football club,” added Keane.

However, Keane recognises that it still won’t be easy to transform his team’s fortunes completely around, following a disappointing 15th place finish last term.

The Town boss is currently preoccupied with finding an assistant manager, to help with his second full season at the helm, while he is also considering a number of options to be a TV pundit at next month’s World Cup in South Africa.

With regards the big task that lies ahead, at Portman Road, Keane

added: “It still gets harder with every year that goes by, and that’s not helped by (Premier League) proposals for the parachute payments being extended (for relegated clubs).

“That’s why we need four or five new players this summer, to have a stronger spine, with one or two experienced players, and one or two with more of a goal-threat.”

This afternoon’s key League One fixtures, involving the promotion candidates, sees second-placed Leeds entertain Bristol Rovers, while rivals Millwall and Swindon meet at the New Den. Charlton are away at Oldham and rank outsiders Huddersfield travel to relegation-threatened Exeter.

A victory for Leeds would guarantee them automatic promotion, regardless of results elsewhere.

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