Places - and contracts - have to be earned - Keane

IPSWICH TOWN: Roy Keane has given his second-in-the-table Blues players a reminder to stay on their toes as they prepare for what is bound to be a stiff Championship battle against Scunthorpe at Glanford Park today (kick-off 3pm).

IPSWICH TOWN: Roy Keane has given his second-in-the-table Blues players a reminder to stay on their toes as they prepare for what is bound to be a stiff Championship battle against Scunthorpe at Glanford Park today (kick-off 3pm).

The midweek loan signing of Jake Livermore from Tottenham has increased the strength of Keane’s squad as they look to build on a successful start to the season.

“Competition for places is great,” said Keane. “It keeps everybody on their toes.

“Take Shane O’Connor for example. He is now training with the first team after recovering from a hamstring strain.

“It is great to have him back, but he will have a tough job on his hands to get back into the team.

“This is great for me, but maybe not so great for my players.

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“But they are all decent lads and they will accept the challenge and enjoy it rather than endure it.”

Keane has sounded out chief executive Simon Clegg to start talks about extending the contracts of a number of players – both experienced and youthful.

Gareth McAuley, David Norris, Damien Delaney and Carlos Edwards have current deals that end on June 30 making them entitled to talk to other clubs from January.

At the other end of the spectrum, Luke Hyam, Reggie Lambe and Tom Eastman are currently on one-year deals handed out in the summer.

“The process started last week,” confirmed Keane.

“And this includes youngsters as well.

“But every player will have to earn the right to be offered a new deal.

“For the youngsters they have to earn the right to join in the first team scene, and then go on and earn the right to a new contract.

“And they are not something that are thrown away willy nilly.”

Midfielder Livermore’s arrival would appear to put pressure on Hyam for a place in the team, but the 20-year-old Spurs player knows he will have to fight for place even though Harry Redknapp would not be too happy if the lad failed to gain valuable extra first team experience this term.

Keane has confirmed that he would have taken Daryl Murphy this summer after the striker enjoyed a successful loan spell at Portman Road from Sunderland towards the back end of last season.

“I would have taken Daryl all day,” revealed Keane.

“But I did not have the option to sign players. He will do well at celtic and we helped to get his career back on track.”

Keane could revert back to the starting line-up that beat Cardiff 2-0 despite the arrival of Livermore.

Martin Fulop will replace Brian Murphy between the sticks and Darren O’Dea and Tommy Smith are likely to come in for Damien Delaney and Mark Kennedy in defence following the Carling Cup win at Millwall.

Today’s likely squads

Scunthorpe: J Murphy, Byrne, Mirfin, Canavan, Nolan, O’Connor, Togwell, Wright, Woolford, Dagnall, Forte, Slocombe, Raynes, Jones, A Wright, McClenahan, Grant, Collins, Godden, McNulty.

Ipswich Town: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Smith, O’Dea, Hyam, Edwards, Leadbitter, Norris, Townsend, Scotland, Wickham, Priskin, B Murphy, Eastman, Livermore, Lambe, Brown, Healy, Murray, Kennedy, Delaney.

Referee: Mr M Haywood (West Yorkshire)

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