Town’s lofty ambitions

IPSWICH Town could find themselves back in the play-off zone by tea-time this afternoon, if they can heap more misery on hosts Sheffield United.

IPSWICH Town could find themselves back in the play-off zone by tea-time this afternoon, if they can heap more misery on hosts Sheffield United.

Town may seem a distant 11th in the Championship table, but Roy Keane’s men are actually just one point adrift of the magical top six.

Since Keane arrived on the Portman Road hot seat, the Irishman has only celebrated three wins on the bounce on one occasion.

That was at the end of August, when a Carling Cup victory at Crewe Alexandra was sandwiched by league wins at Crystal Palace and against Bristol City.

The signs are good for a repeat performance in South Yorkshire, not least because struggling Sheffield United are only two points clear of the relegation zone.

Furthermore, the Blades have the bluntest strike-force in the Championship, with a meagre haul of nine goals from 14 league games.

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However, Keane is not expecting an easy ride at Bramall Lane, far from it.

“Any time you go to Sheffield, whether it be against United or Wednesday, you are always in for a tough game,” explained Keane.

“They are probably still only a few points (seven) off the play-offs. That’s the madness of the Championship!

“And if they start well, then their home fans will get right behind them.”

Keane’s squad has begun to take shape over the last few weeks, and competition for places will again be fierce this afternoon.

Connor Wickham again looks set to be sitting on the bench, while the talented Tottenham loanee pairing of Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend are also not guaranteed starts.

Keane also hopes that the injured duo of Mark Kennedy and Darren O’Dea will be in contention for a return to the squad over the next fortnight.

That’s why the Irishman is considering loaning a few of his younger players out to clubs from the lower leagues.

“I’ve had some conversations with other clubs, with regards loaning out some of our younger players,” confirmed Keane.

“Some of the younger boys, like Jack Ainsley and Shane O’Connor, we might consider are able to go out and play League football.

“But as regards the likes of Luke (Hyam) and Troy (Brown), there’s no chance, because of the games coming up and the threat of injuries.”

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