LEE Martin has described being surrounded by almost a first-team of loans and players on short-term deals as “tough”.

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But the winger has assured fans that the dressing room remains united in attempting to pull Town away from the threat of relegation.

Following an encouraging 1-1 opening-day draw with promotion favourites Blackburn Rovers, Martin told this newspaper that team spirit among a youthful Blues camp was the best he had known during his four seasons at Ipswich.

But since then Paul Jewell and now Mick McCarthy have had little choice but to rely too heavily on loan players.

There are currently eight loanees in the squad – six home-based and two overseas – while Nigel Reo-Coker and Kelly Youga have only signed until January.

Martin admitted: “It has been tough having eight loan players coming in, that is always tough.

“There are always going to be players who are unhappy, but team spirit has always been there.”

Just weeks after former loanee Richie Wellens questioned whether the ‘permanent’ players cared enough about losing, Martin hit back: “A lot has been said about the boys who are here permanently not caring – but I can tell you they do.

“Both loan and permanent players have to work together and the manager and TC (assistant manager Terry Connor) are making sure that happens.”

Martin believes there were enough signs in the second half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Peterborough to suggest better times are ahead – even though supporters will go into tomorrow night’s match with big-spending Nottingham Forest with a sense of trepidation.

And the winger knows he still has to impress McCarthy as he bids to land a new deal when his current contract expires next summer.

He admitted: “A new manager has come in and he will decide on that front, but I haven’t heard anything. But I still want to stay.”

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