Is Town squad too big?

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has assembled the largest ever Blues first team squad.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton has assembled the largest ever Blues first team squad.

He has 27 senior players at his disposal, which means that 11 have to sit out every Coca-Cola Championship game where five substitutes can be named.

After the poor start to the season with just one league win from the opening four games, Blues supporters have been left wondering whether a manager spoiled for choice is a good or bad thing.

It does give Magilton plenty of options, but it must inevitably lead to discontent among members of squad who are not getting a game.

Magilton is earnestly looking to loan out players to go with the five who have already been shipped out of Portman Road on non-permanent deals.

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But he is also set to bring in a couple more - a central defender and a left-sided midfielder - when the emergency loan system comes in to play next Monday.

Magilton came 'desperately' close to adding a defender to the transfer window deadline day loan signing of striker Jon Stead from Sheffield United.

Time ran out before all the paperwork could be completed, but the Blues boss is confident he will be able to resurrect the deal next week. And also add a midfielder to his squad at the same time.

The Marcus Evans millions have allowed Magilton to keep his best players, and he would not have been able to turn down a £3million-plus Monday offer from an unnamed Premier League club for key playmaker Jon Walters this time last year.

And the extra money in his back pocket has enabled Magilton to invest heavily in his squad to give a mix of experience and youth that served Hull City so well last season.

But past trends at Portman Road suggest that the smaller the squad the more chance of success.

Both Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson only made changes to their teams through injuries when the Blues won the Division One title in 1962, the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.

Settling on a top XI and then sticking to it is what brought Ipswich Town worldwide acclaim under the management of both Ramsey and Robson.

Substitutes are now part and parcel of the current game, which means larger squads are needed although in Ramsey and Robson's days Town often played reserve matches on Saturday afternoons determining at least 22 senior professionals although only 14 or 15 were earmarked for first team duty in any one campaign.

Current Ipswich Town squad (in shirt number order): R Wright, D Wright, McAuley, Bruce, Naylor, Garvan, Miller, Counago, Norris, Lisbie, Peters, Stead, Balkestein, Bowditch, Haynes, Walters, Campo, Volz, Quinn, Shumulikoski, Supple, Thatcher, Smith, Trotter, Robinson, Rhodes, Reason.

Plus: Harding, Clarke, Richards, Casement and Upson are out on loan.