Play-offs now the goal for Town

IPSWICH Town are left effectively fighting for one promotion place in the Coca-Cola Championship.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town are left effectively fighting for one promotion place in the Coca-Cola Championship.

And Blues boss Jim Magilton is banking on his current set of players to get him through the tough December programme.

Magilton will not be going into the loan market prior to the 5pm deadline today after which no players can switch clubs until the full transfer window opens again on January 1.

There is one piece of potentially good news for Town fans today, with the club confirming they are looking into reducing Portman Road admission prices following the reduction in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 15pc from next Monday.

Everton are reducing their turnstile prices by a £1 and an Ipswich spokesman said: “The situation is being discussed about prices for the rest of the season.”

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With the half-way point of the season coming midway through next month, Magilton needs his players to respond over the next five weeks if they are going to stay in serious contention for a promotion place.

With Wolverhampton going great guns and 19 points ahead of Town, and Birmingham 13 points ahead, having proved their superiority over the Blues at St Andrews on Tuesday, there would have to be a considerable turnaround in fortunes for Ipswich to have any chance of gaining automatic promotion.

So, it looks as though it will be the play-offs that will be Magilton's goal for the next six months and, with clubs bunching up around them, it will be a nervous time to try and fulfil owner Marcus Evans' target of a top-flight place.

Magilton is set to bring in a couple of players at most during the January transfer window, with a downturn in the world economy having an effect on how much finance Evans will make available. There is likely to be more outgoings than incomings.

Of Town's competitors for a play-off place, QPR have pots of money, while Derby and Reading have the benefits of Premier League parachute payments plus managers experienced at winning promotion.

Sheffield United - with James Beattie scoring goals - will also be a big threat and Ipswich will have to show the form that has seen them comprehensively win their last two home games on a consistent basis to ensure a top-six finish.

Then it will be the lottery of the play-offs to decide who will escape the Championship for the riches of the Premier League in 2009/10.

Twenty-year-old midfielder Liam Trotter is spending a final month at League Two Grimsby after extending his loan this week. He has already spent two months with the Mariners.

David Norris, who is in London today with club secretary Sally Webb to face an FA charge following his goal 'celebration' against Blackpool, remains a doubt for Saturday's home game against Sheffield United with a dead leg picked up against Derby last weekend.

But team captain Gareth McAuley is fit after his hamstring problem and Town have no other injury worries.

The Blues must wait to see who they meet in the semi-final of the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup. They will meet either Needham Market or Walsham-le-Willows.Their quarter-final was called off on Tuesday because the Needham pitch was unfit.