Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 March 2018

Players back under-fire boss Keane, says cup hero Leadbitter

Jim van Wijk

Grant Leadbitter hopes that firing Ipswich into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup can act as a springboard for Roy Keane's men to charge back to the top six of the Championship.

Under-fire manager Keane gave the 10,000 or so hearty home supporters who braved the elements at a freezing Portman Road something to smile about on Wednesday as his patched-up side booked a date with Arsenal.

Leadbitter, whose controversial second-half penalty proved decisive, accepts things have not gone to plan this season, with Sunday's painful 4-1 defeat at neighbours Norwich leaving the Tractor Boys languishing in 17th place.

However, the Championship table is so tight that Ipswich remain only two wins away from the play-offs, but just four points off the bottom three.

Third-placed Swansea come to Portman Road for tomorrow's televised lunchtime kick-off -- and Leadbitter believes Town can quickly turn their season around.

"Over the past month, the players have let ourselves down," said the former Sunderland midfielder. "They way we have performed let the fans down, like on Sunday at Norwich, and in the previous games.


"This could be the turning point and we want to get a result against Swansea because we don't want to be dropping down that league, we want to be getting in touch with the top six again.

"If you have got something about you as a footballer, you want a reaction yourself, we did that against West Brom and we need to do that again on Saturday.

"We want to be in the play-off places. We had a very good start, but we have let that slip over the past month or so. Everyoneis disappointed, and we want to get a little run going again."

Keane has endured a difficult relationship with supporters this season and had accepted in his programme notes "there is no hiding place for a manager..

Leadbitter (24) played for Keane at Sunderland, winning promotion to the top flight, and he is in no doubt that the Corkman remains the right man for the job.

"Everyone at the club is always behind the manager," Leadbitter insisted. "He is positive, driving us forwards to win games."

Ipswich will host Arsenal in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at the start of January -- just a few days after their third-round FA Cup tie at Chelsea.

"The first leg at home will be good for our fans; we can get a full house," said Leadbitter. "You want to play the top teams. I want to go on to be a top player, and play against the top players in the country."

Irish Independent

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