Town treading water

IPSWICH Town are effectively treading water, with a month of the season still remaining, but in truth the end of this campaign cannot come quick enough.

IPSWICH Town are effectively treading water, with a month of the season still remaining, but in truth the end of this campaign cannot come quick enough.

Town are safe from relegation – not mathematically, but with a huge 14-point gap between themselves and the bottom three.

And their hopes of promotion were extinguished long ago, following that dismal six-game losing streak from early November, which saw them nosedive from sixth spot to just clear of the drop zone before Christmas.

That means the pressure is off, in terms of having to scramble together enough points to stay in the Championship, or accumulate a bucket-ful to push for the Premier League.

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Obviously every team wants to finish a season on a high, and Town are no different, but their manager Paul Jewell is already looking towards next season.

Certainly, the result of today’s clash at play-off chasing Burnley will have little bearing on Jewell’s overall outlook.

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That was clearly evident when the Town boss allowed Tamas Priskin to go out on loan to Championship rivals Swansea on emergency loan deadline day last week, so leaving him with just 32-year-old Jason Scotland and 18-year-old Connor Wickham as the recognised strikers.

A permanent move for Priskin to the Liberty Stadium this summer would be a positive step for Jewell, who wants to make room for a few key signings in the close-season.

So whereas accruing points was the priority for Jewell during his first three months at the helm, now the emphasis has switched to players’ contracts and future signings.

“There’s nothing like winning games to get people coming to football matches,” admitted Jewell.

“But if we can sign quality players between now and when we come back, that will also get the fans excited.

“We’ve done OK, but we are three or four players short – top Championship players – of pushing. If we can get a striker, maybe two, and one or two other players in key positions, then I think we have a decent squad around here.

“We need some big hitters, somebody who is going to take us forward with goals,” added Jewell.

Town will have to make do without the services of winger Lee Martin for today’s trip to Turf Moor.

Martin starts the first of a two-match suspension for accruing 10 bookings, having picked up his third yellow card, in a Town shirt, during the 2-0 home win over Scunthorpe in the last outing a fortnight ago, for an alleged dive inside the penalty area.

The ex-Manchester United wide-man had already incurred seven bookings during his loan spell at Charlton from earlier in the season.

Kieron Dyer, who has made just a couple of appearances since his loan switch from West Ham, is hoping to return after missing the Scunthorpe win with a thigh strain.

Hosts Burnley have not won in three matches, but remain just two places and three points off the top six. They will be without midfielder Jack Cork, who was taken ill during the half-time interval of England Under-21s’ friendly against Iceland on Monday, and has since returned to Chelsea, his parent club, to undergo tests.

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