Roy's squad is fit for purpose

FITNESS rather than finesse might be the order of the day as Ipswich Town entertain basement club Peterborough United in a crunch Championship clash at Portman Road tonight.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

FITNESS rather than finesse might be the order of the day as Ipswich Town entertain basement club Peterborough United in a crunch Championship clash at Portman Road tonight.

Posh are battlers to the final whistle, as proved by Aaron Mclean's injury-time equaliser in a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw against Swansea on Saturday.

The last gasp recovery was all the more impressive, because the Swans had struck with two goals of their own inside the last six minutes.

But Town boss Roy Keane is happy with his own team's fitness levels. Those dark days, of conceding late goals, appear to be over.

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Keane said: "We have been looking very strong in the latter part of games. Our fitness levels are good.

"The pluses are the eight games unbeaten, the spirit in the team and the fact we are sticking at it. No doubt the victories will come if we keep doing that.

"But I'd rather be sitting here saying that we had just one chance and scored, rather than talking about all the missed chances," added Keane, with reference to the spurned opportunities in Saturday's goalless draw at Bristol City.

Peterborough, with ex-Kettering boss Mark Cooper at the helm, have won just two league games this season, both at London Road against Reading (3-2) and Scunthorpe (3-0).

They have drawn three and lost six of their nine away league fixtures, although they will be heartened by 2-2 home draws against Middlesbrough and Swansea in their last two games.

"We lost to Peterborough in the Cup, which was disappointing. We certainly don't want to lose to them again," continued Keane.

"They've had a change of manager since then, but the spirit is there because they've scored a couple of late goals recently and they also missed a penalty at Sheffield United.

"I don't know much about their new manager (Cooper), but he's earned his chance coming up from non-league.

"That's good to see. And if he does well it gives other managers, from the same situation, a big boost, that they too might have a chance.

"You have to treat every team with respect. Otherwise, the day you under-estimate a team is the day you get beaten.

"I wasn't that surprised that Darren Ferguson (former Peterborough manager) left, because from my own experience you never know what's going on in the background.

"One thing is for sure, he'll be back."

Arran Lee-Barrett will make his home debut in goal this evening, after keeping a clean-sheet in his first start at Ashton Gate. Richard Wright is out for four months with a knee injury.

Lee Martin has recovered from a heel injury, which caused him to miss the trip to Bristol, so he might return to the squad. Midfielder Alan Quinn picked up a knock but should be available.

Keane confirmed: "Quinner just got a knock, but it's alright to take a kick.

"We have three games in a week, and I will be making changes."

Defender Alex Bruce will remain sidelined for this week's home games against Peterborough and Blackpool, so Gareth McAuley and Damian Delaney will continue their partnership at the back.

On the long-term injury-front, midfielder David Norris should start tackling in training later this week, after which a practise game will be arranged for him. He damaged his knee during the opening day defeat at Coventry.

But news of Luciano Civelli is not so encouraging.

Keane revealed: Luciano's recovery is a bit slow. It will be another month before he can start training."