POLL: Where do Ipswich Town need to strengthen in January?
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Mick McCarthy’s wafer-thin squad is likely to be tested to the limit during a busy December period, giving renewed hope to some of the Blues’ fringe players.
Ipswich Town have used just 19 outfield players so far this season and McCarthy added to his squad today with the loan signing of Aston Villa’s Jordan Graham.
Anthony Wordsworth staked his claim for a recall with a goal in the under-21s’ 4-1 victory at Brentford on Tuesday, while Stephen Hunt, Scott Loach, Frederic Veseli and Alan Lee also played their part in the victory at Jersey Park.
One player who did not feature was defender Elliott Hewitt, dropped from the first team after being a part of the Blues side that lost three of their first four games at the start of this season.
He is currently rebuilding his campaign at League One Gillingham and can put himself in contention for a return to Town’s first-team fold, according to McCarthy.
McCarthy admitted Hewitt’s performance levels dipped following his demotion from the first team but added: “He did alright at the start of the season, but I changed the team because we hadn’t won games, despite playing well enough.
“He’s gone out to play five, six, seven games and he’ll be better for it.
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“I actually think he’d gone backwards since dropping out the team with his performances in the Under-21s and in training. Maybe the fact he’d been left out affected him.”
Hewitt’s two games for the Gills have seen the Kent side win 2-1 at Sheffield United and lose 1-0 at home to Oldham Athletic.
“Now he’s at a club, he’s playing and I think he shone in a victory up at Sheffield United recently, we had a scout and another member of staff there watching,” added McCarthy.
“The message to him is get some games. Hopefully he’ll come back for the Christmas period, if I need him, better for the experience.”
Wordsworth omission from virtually any first-team action has been the most surprising this season, especially as McCarthy stumped up a reported six-figure fee to sign the coveted Colchester United midfielder in January.
His chances of returning to the first team seem slim with Cole Skuse, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Luke Hyam ahead of him in the pecking order for a central midfield berth and Paul Anderson and Jay Tabb considered more suitable for wide left roles.
However, as Wordsworth found to his cost after joining Town last season, injuries can play their part, meaning openings for others.
The likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Michael Chopra were brought out of the cold towards the end of last season, although they only performed well sporadically and McCarthy eventually lost faith in the duo, letting them go in the summer
Wordsworth may be concious of this too, as must the likes of Veseli and Loach, if he wins a recall at any point.
McCarthy will give everyone a fair crack of the whip but his patience will only stretch so far and for so long.