Paul Jewell believes he has assembled his strongest Ipswich Town squad yet

NEWLY-ENTHUSED Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell wishes today’s game at Hull City was the season-opener after assembling what he believes is his strongest squad during his time at the club.

With his side plummeting towards the foot of the Championship table within the opening weeks of the campaign, the Blues boss has brought in six players on short-term deals over the last month.

Keeper Stephen Henderson (West Ham, season-long loan) and midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker (free agent, three-month contract) should make their debuts at the KC Stadium this afternoon, while striker DJ Campbell (QPR, three-month loan) and midfielder Richie Wellens (Leicester, one-month loan) will look to build upon their encouraging debuts in the 2-1 home defeat to table-toppers Cardiff prior to the international break.

The versatile Bilel Mohsni (Southend, three-month loan) will give options off the bench, while centre-back Danny Higginbotham – who has made a big impact since arriving on loan from Stoke – is also set to extend his stay.

With experience and leadership in abundance among the aforementioned sextet, Jewell said: “I wish this was the first game of the season. That’s not to decry the lads that have been in so far, but I think everyone knows the squad hasn’t been as strong as it is now.

“We’ve got plenty of midfield and striker options now. We can play different systems and it gives me choice. I look at the bench now and I can make changes. Sometimes when I’ve been here, without being disrespectful to people, I haven’t had too much to change it with.”

Asked if he felt this was the strongest squad he has had during his 20 months at the club, he said: “Without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t mean everything is going to come right overnight, but when you look at the players we’ve got now there is more quality.

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“Reo-Coker, DJ Campbell, Richie Wellens – they’re all good footballers who are keen, hungry and pleased to be here.

“As I said, we wish the season was starting Saturday really, but it’s not and we’ve got to deal with the tricky situation we find ourselves in. I think we’ve got some men, some experienced players, the likes of Nigel (Reo-Coker), Danny Higginbotham, Ritchie (Wellens) and DJ (Campbell) who can hopefully get us out of the sticky situation we’re in.”