Out-of-favour Jimmy Bullard currently sixth-choice in Ipswich Town midfield

JIMMY Bullard is facing a battle to keep pace with Paul Jewell’s young guns after being dumped to Town’s SIXTH-CHOICE central midfielder on Saturday.

The playmaker was omitted from Town’s 20-man squad for Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Premier League newcomers West Ham for footballing reasons – missing a much-needed victory to lift the spirits of supporters.

The Hammers tasted a heavy defeat at Portman Road for the second time in little over six months thanks to goals from Michael Chopra, Luke Chambers and Jason Scotland.

It might have only been a friendly and played in front of little over 7,500 fans, but the Super Blues played with a vibrancy and purpose that had been largely missing this pre-season.

The fact 11 of the squad that featured were Under-23 suggests that Jewell has well and truly dumped his policy of depending on big-name, experienced players.

And 33-year-old Bullard could be the biggest casualty with Town’s most creative midfielder now facing an uphill battle to be included for the Championship season-opener at home to Blackburn Rovers in under two weeks.

Assistant boss Chris Hutchings said: “He is just out of the equation at this moment in time. There are always rumours about everything but he is fit, we just didn’t include him in the squad.”

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After a largely dismal first full season at Ipswich which ended in a two-week suspension for turning up late for training, Bullard goes into his final year at the club looking to become the fans’ darling once again.

His first mission is to impress Jewell after being included in a second-string friendly against Braintree Town, getting just a half at Luton Town and even less time against Southend United.

In their penultimate friendly on Saturday, Jewell picked arguably his strongest team with Spurs loanee Massimo Luongo and Luke Hyam showing great promise in the engine room.

Ryan Stevenson and Andy Drury also appear to be ahead of Bullard in the pecking order as the new season approaches while Cheick Kourouma, whose contract situation remains unresolved, also featured against the Hammers.