Eight fateful days for Roy

IPSWICH Town boss Roy Keane is facing up to the equivalent of eight D Days, which will surely shape the whole season at Portman Road.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town boss Roy Keane is facing up to the equivalent of eight D Days, which will surely shape the whole season at Portman Road.

The first of those eight D Days is this Saturday, when Swansea City are the visitors. And the crunch period ends on day eight, with a long trip to fellow bottom three club Plymouth Argyle.

Squeezed in between is a visit from Watford next Tuesday evening - the Hornets, like the Swans and the Pilgrims, are also in the lower half of the table.

No wins from these three fixtures would be unthinkable. It would leave Town marooned at the foot of the Championship table, facing up to a relegation dogfight.

One victory from three would also be unacceptable, although that would at least stop the winless rot. Instead, to propel themselves off the bottom and back towards the pack, Keane really needs a haul of six to nine points from this period.

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At the moment, it feels like half-term, due to the fortnight's break for internationals - the likes of Carlos Edwards, Tamas Priskin, Gareth McAuley and Owen Garvan have at least had the distraction of international football to take their minds off the current plight.

Town, and Keane in particular, have certainly had time to stew after such a disastrous first two months, which featured no wins, five draws and six defeats in 11 fixtures.

Hopefully, the enforced lay-off will count in Town's favour. It already seems a long time ago since Barnsley striker Jonathan Macken broke their hearts with a winner in the sixth and final minute of injury-time in the last game.

The Tykes' 2-1 win left Town a daunting five points adrift of safety.

After these eight D Days, they don't want to still be propping up the rest of the division, playing catch-up. Otherwise, the situation will be serious.


- SWANSEA CITY (home, this Saturday): Their Portuguese boss, Paulo Sousa, has masterminded a promising five-match unbeaten run, featuring wins over his old club QPR and Sheffield United, and goalless draws against Doncaster, Barnsley and Bristol City.

- WATFORD (home, next Tuesday): No victories in four games, including a confidence-denting 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Cardiff City in their last outing.

- PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (away, Saturday week): They were rock bottom until winning their last two matches, both by 2-1 score-lines at Peterborough and against Scunthorpe.

- Peterborough United's director of football, Barry Fry, is hopeful of recruiting a new centre-half on loan before this weekend, but it won't be Ipswich Town's Gareth McAuley.

“He (McAuley) is not the player we are chasing,” revealed Fry.

“His age (29) and his wages would make him unsuitable.”