Manager Paul Lambert still believes that Ipswich Town have a chance of surviving, and he won’t lose that belief until relegation is mathematically certain. He may be the only person who holds this view these days but as the Blues boss, he really has to still have hope. Realistically though, Ipswich would have to win nearly all their remaining fixtures and having won just three games all season, this remains a very remote possibility.
So who will be with us next term? Cole Skuse is a certainty but what about captain Luke Chambers? Is he worth a renewed deal and if so, how long should it be? I would suspect it would be a relatively short term deal given his age, but I do personally believe that his heart is in it and that surely is half the battle. He is the ideal motivator on the pitch when those team talks count for nothing when the players run out from the tunnel, and his customary fist-pump is a genuine reflection of how he feels. He would accept a pay-cut and so too would Skuse. This is understandable given their age and their maturity off the field. Whether Bartosz Bialkowski would, is an entirely different proposition.
Tomorrow Town are back at Portman Road when they come face to face with Nottingham Forest, and their assistant coach Roy Keane! Martin O’Neill is now head coach there, and it will be interesting to see what kind of reception ‘Keano’ gets? Also coming back is former Ipswich and Ireland hero, Daryl Murphy, who is celebrating his birthday today and is now at the ripe old age of 36! The feedback he gets from the fans will, I suspect, will be much more welcoming than the one that Keane gets.
The Blues may welcome back James Collins and Collin Quaner for the visit of Nottingham Forest, as they both returned to training on Thursday. Forest are still chasing a play-off place but have been seriously struggling of late with five draws and five defeats in their last ten league games away.
Martin O’Neill has not faced Ipswich Town since the 1996-97 League Cup quarter-final when his Leicester City side won 1-0 at Portman Road, courtesy of a Mark Robins goal. Forward Lewis Grabban has scored six goals in his past four league starts against Ipswich Town and he and Murphy are perhaps their greatest threats. It is unlikely that Ipswich boss Paul Lambert will make too many changes after the team performed so well again against Bristol City in midweek.
I am confident that Town will win tomorrow because now that the pressure is off, I really do think they are expressing themselves with much more fluidity on the field, and this could work in their favour from now on in. It is an impossible task to even contemplate survival just now, but the players and the manager will want to go out on a high and they have literally nothing to lose with just nine games remaining.
F.W. editor of Vital Ipswich