Lambert rules out free agent signing after Keane injury blow... but could look for striker converts in his squad
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Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert won’t dip into the free agent market following Will Keane’s hamstring injury but may look to convert other players to help solve the Blues’ striker shortage.
Keane is the latest Ipswich player to be hit by injury after he left the Blues’ draw at Wigan with a hamstring problem which Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, who had been monitoring the striker’s progress, says will sideline him for six weeks.
Lambert insisted he is unsure of quite how long Keane will be out but admitted the loss of the striker is a major blow ahead of this weekend’s crunch game with Reading.
MORE: Three from six will have to go - how the experts see the battle to beat the drop playing outKeane joins Freddie Sears (knee) and Ellis Harrison (hamstring) on the injury list, leaving just Collin Quaner and Kayden Jackson as fit, front-line, strikers.
“Will’s out with his hamstring, although we’re not sure how long for, but it’s a major blow for us because he’s been playing so well,” Lambert said.
“But that’s my point about taking loan players and the fact they are loan players for a reason. They don’t get much football at their own clubs and we’re then asking them to play three games in a week, which is really hard going.
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“That’s football sometimes but it’s not an ideal scenario and definitely a blow because he was playing really well for us.
“In terms of time out I don’t know. I have a rough idea but it depends on how severe it is.
MORE: ‘He is out for six weeks’ - Former Ipswich boss McCarthy on Town striker Keane’s injury“Some guys can come back quickly but it all depends on his recovery. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, he’s back sooner rather than later.
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“There’s an international break coming up (in March) and then a game against Hull he can’t play in anyway so hopefully that will give us some kind of respite.”
Asked whether he would consider bring a free agent as cover Lambert said: “We’re definitely short in that area but if you don’t have a contract by March then there’s something wrong with you.
“It’s a dangerous thing to go into that market and we can’t keep paying money out. That’s my frustration with loans and free transfers because they’re not fit.”
With young striker Ben Morris (knee) and Ben Folami (Achilles) also on the long-term injured list, Lambert admitted he may look to convert other members of his squad to play as makeshift strikers.
Winger Jordan Roberts was used as a central striker during the early weeks of Lambert’s reign but is not out on loan at Wigan.
MORE: Keeping hopes alive, selection issues and polishing the diamond - questions ahead of ‘massive’ Reading clash“They’re going to have to at certain times so there’s no point trying to dress it up, you’re going to have to do that,” he said.
“That’s important. We’re at the stage of the season where it’s not about systems and more about what’s in your own stomach and how far you want to go to achieve something.
“You have to have enthusiasm for the game regardless of where you’re playing and, since I’ve been at the club, there aren’t many games I’ve come away from thinking we gave it a right good go.”