Mick McCarthy will be limited to free transfers, swaps and loans during the January window

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy would like to strengthen his wafer-thin squad during the January transfer window, but has admitted that there is no money to spend on transfer fees.

The Blues boss has done superbly on a restricted budget during his 14 months at Portman Road, rescuing the club from the threat of relegation last season and then transforming them into one that remains well in the hunt for a top six finish at the 25-game mark.

McCarthy has used the fewest players in the Championship so far – just 22 – and he only had 16 fit outfield players available for Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to third-place QPR, with veteran player-coach Alan Lee on the bench.

Asked if he is looking to strengthen this month, the Blues boss quipped: “I’ll be in the gym tomorrow morning!

“Er, we’ll have a look. The difficulty is we’re not going to buy anybody. Can we get somebody who is coming out of contract or on loan that is better than the ones I’ve got? They’d have to be pretty damn good to be better than the ones I’ve got.

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“We might need a little bit of back-up. We’ll see.”

Twenty-three different players have been brought to the club during McCarthy’s reign. Anthony Wordsworth is the most expensive arrival at £100,000, with nominal fees having been spent on Tyrone Mings, Frank Nouble and Jack Doherty. The rest have been free agents, Bosmans, loans or swaps, with Town owner Marcus Evans keen to bring some financial stability to the club following the introduction of new Financial Fair Play rules.

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Asked if his comments about not being able to buy somebody meant there was no money in the pot, he replied: “We can take loans. Maybe if there is somebody coming out of contract, who is surplus to requirements elsewhere. Or a swap deal could be done.

“We haven’t bought anybody in the first place, remember. Do you know what, we’ve done great with the situation and the budget so far.

“If we can get some loans (owner) Marcus (Evans) will back that. We’ll keep looking.”

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