Town skipper has it all to do

IPSWICH TOWN: Jon Walters knows he must be on the ball for tomorrow’s Championship match against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm).

The Blues skipper’s influence to the team is immense and if Town are to reach the top half of the table for the first time this season they will need Walters’ motivational skills to be spot on.

Three points will see Ipswich leapfrog Doncaster and move up to at least 12th and a top half berth.

Walters revealed after the home defeat to relegation haunted Plymouth Argyle on March 23 – Town’s only defeat on Suffolk soil since late September – that he was too relaxed during the team’s preparations.

He is believed to have helped gee up the team to help them rise above the mediocrity that dominated much of the early months of the season when the team struggled to find any shape and rhythm.

“I blame myself for our defeat to Plymouth as I was not upbeat enough,” said Walters.

“I was too relaxed, and we did not get going and play as well as we would have liked.

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“We did well in our last home match against Reading over Easter and must ensure that we are in the right frame of mind again.”

Gareth McAuley began the season as captain having been in charge under Jim Magilton last season. Alex Bruce took over in August before Walters took over the armband job from the end of September when Town were entrenched in the bottom three.

After all the disappointments that this season has brought to move into the top half will be a notable achievement – and Walters’ stature and respect in the dressing room has gone a long way to achieving this.

His team mates have played for him – and will be looking to do the same in the remaining three matches of the season.

Like a number of his team mates there could be a question mark about Walters’ future during the close season with other clubs aware of his value to any side.

Town manager Roy Keane is aware of Walters’ importance having made him captain, and he said: “Jon is a big player for us and when he has been missing it has shown.

“He is one of the players who will form the core of our team next season.”

Damien Delaney will miss his first start since November 29 having suffered an ankle injury at Nottingham Forest last weekend with Tommy Smith set to replace him.

Seventeen-year-old rookie Tom Eastman could be the only defender on the bench, with Connor Wickham likely to continue his run in the team and partner Daryl Murphy up front.

Tomorrow’s likely squads

Ipswich Town: B Murphy, D Wright, Peters, McAuley, T Smith, S O’Connor, Eastman, Walters, Leadbitter, Norris, Colback, Edwards, Martin, D Murphy, Healy, Wickham, Counago, Lee-Barrett, Garvan, Rosenior.

Doncaster Rovers: Sullivan, Chambers, Martis, J O’Connor, Roberts, Wilson, Oster, Hayter, Mutch, Emmanuel-Thomas, Heffernan, McDaid, B Smith, Hird, Lockwood, Shiels, Fairhurst, Coppinger, Stock.

Referee: Mr A Penn (West Midlands)

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Town home league record against Doncaster

P3 W2 D0 L1 F8 A4

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