Cup run can save season

BACK the Blues to make an impact in the FA Cup for the first time for 14 years.

Elvin King

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BACK the Blues to make an impact in the FA Cup for the first time for 14 years.

They have a third round tie at fellow Championship side Blackpool on Saturday having at last gained some momentum after their worst ever start to any season.

Just one defeat in the last 12 games is an ideal preparation for the cup tie at Bloomfield Road and Town manager Roy Keane will surely treat the game seriously. If the Blues lose at the weekend his season will be all but over.

Unless they hit a long winning streak in the league the chances of moving up from 19th to a challenge for a play-off place is out of the question with only half the league season remaining.

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It is not a glamorous tie and not one that will gain many column inches or television air time. But it is of vital importance to an Ipswich club that has reached the fifth round just once since losing to Aston Villa at the last 16 stage in 1996.

Three seasons ago Town beat Chester and Swansea before being knocked out 1-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road but other than that they have failed to win more than one FA Cup game since the 3-1 home defeat by Villa.

Blackpool will provide stiff opposition on what could be a tricky pitch and the Tangerines will be seeking revenge for their 3-1 league defeat at Portman Road shortly before Christmas.

But for the first time for ages Town have no outside interests to dominate their attention.

The huge financial gains of reaching the Premier League - or staying there - are not relevant this time around and Blues fans will be thirsting for a cup run to bring them some cheer after a pretty dreadful 2009.

Keane is an FA Cup winner himself with Manchester United and wants to win every game, with Town supporters keeping their fingers crossed that he has better luck in the world's most glamorous competition than his immediate predecessors George Burley, Joe Royle and Jim Magilton.

Arran Lee-Barrett will continue in goal at Blackpool with Brian Murphy not eligible until next week following his impending move from Irish League football.

Lee-Barrett will be impossible to replace if he continues in his current form having enjoyed a fairytale promotion from third choice and to be in goal for his home-town club that once released him while he was still a schoolboy.

Striker Kevin Lisbie is cup tied having played for Colchester in an earlier round, while David Wright has five stitches in an ankle wound sustained at Crystal Palace last Saturday.

He was considered too much of a risk at home to QPR on Monday. Damien Delaney took a bump on his leg, but is expected to be fit.

Frost is not forecast to hit Blackpool again until Friday night, but the game is likely to be decided by a Friday inspection after a bleak 10 days of weather in the north west.

Ex-Town striker Billy Clarke will not be back in the Blackpool side as he is still recovering from a knee problem.

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