Roy bids to solve toothless Town trouble

HOW CAN Ipswich Town increase their goal output?

Elvin King

HOW CAN Ipswich Town increase their goal output?

This dilemma has featured highly in Blues manager Roy Keane's thoughts during the two-week international break.

Town are back in action tomorrow when they take on Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road (kick-off 5.20pm) in a contest being shown live on satellite television.

They have netted just 17 times in 16 league matches, including just one in each of their last six matches.

While Keane appears to have got to grips with his earlier defensive problems - helped by the loan signing of Asmir Begovic - with just four goals conceded in the five matches, the new keeper has played, he is still searching for his best front-running partnership.

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Jon Stead and Tamas Priskin started the game at Reading a fortnight ago, with the former netting his second goal in three matches and the latter looking as lively as he has done since his �1.7million August move from Watford.

But the goals still refuse to flow, with Town dropping eight points in a run of 'winnable' games between international breaks because of their inability to score more than once.

Pablo Counago, who played 90 minutes in the reserves at Luton in midweek as he still looks for full match fitness after missing the whole of pre-season through injury, will be in Keane's thoughts along with Jon Walters and Connor Wickham.

Keane, who has to decide whether to recall fit-again defenders Gareth McAuley and Tommy Smith after Alex Bruce and Damien Delaney impressed in the last two games, could well start with Stead and Priskin again up front.

There were signs that their partnership could blossom, and Keane will be keeping his fingers crossed they can both get among the goals tomorrow.

Keane has been working his players hard in the fortnight's break training four days last week with some double sessions. The players had the weekend off, but were back on Monday and Tuesday before having Wednesday as a rest day.

Jaime Peters returned from playing for Canada in Poland last night while Begovic also flew back to Ipswich yesterday after sitting on the bench in Bosnia's World Cup qualifying play-off defeat to Portugal.

Keane has no injury worries other than long-term David Norris and Luca Civelli as he seeks a second win of the season tomorrow.

The Owls have influential Michael Gray fit again after missing two games with a hamstring strain. Although left-footed, he is expected to play on the right side of midfield with Jermaine Johnson on the left.

Johnson played for Jamaica in a 0-0 draw with South Africa in Bloemfontein on Tuesday. Captain Darren Purse has missed the last two games because of illness, but manager Brian Laws is likely to stick with the centre-back pairing of Lewis Buxton and Richard Hinds.

Ipswich Town: Begovic; Rosenior, Bruce, Delaney, D Wright, McAuley, Delaney, Edwards, Leadbitter, Quinn, Walters, Healy, Peters, Colback, Trotter, Martin, Stead, Priskin, Counago, Wickham, R Wright.

Sheffield Wednesday: Grant, Hinds, Buxton, Simek, Spurr, Johnson, Potter, McAllister, O'Connor, Tudgay, Varney, Clarke, Gray, Sodje, Esajas, O'Donnell, Beevers, Purse.

Referee: Mr A D'Urso (Essex).