Monday 19 March 2018

Under-fire Keane puts fate in hands of youngsters

John Ley

ROY KEANE could be forgiven for hoping that tonight's League Cup quarter-final is affected by the wintry weather.

The Corkman's Ipswich squad has been severely depleted by a combination of injuries, suspensions and ineligibilities ahead of the clash with West Brom.

Goalkeeper Marton Fulop is the latest doubt, while Gareth McAuley, Luke Hyam, Connor Wickham and Mark Kennedy are all injured.

Keane must also plan without loanees Gianni Zuiverloon, Jack Colback, Jake Livermore and Rory Fallon, who are all cup-tied, as well as Damien Delaney. Ipswich, who have lost eight of their last 12 games, have decided not to appeal against Delaney's red card in Sunday's 4-1 defeat at local rivals Norwich.

Keane, who has never won the competition either as a player or a manager, admitted he was playing a waiting game with his injured players.

"I'll be going with a young team, once again. I haven't been too pleased about that, over the last month or two, because we have been playing too many young players at the same time. But I don't really have any choice.

"If we can just steady the ship and maybe get that bit of luck, things could turn for us."

Moving into the semi-finals of the League Cup would help to reinvigorate a season that is threatening to slide away after a promising start.

Promotion is the target in Keane's second full campaign in charge, but Ipswich have slumped to 17th in the Championship.

While patience is evident in Suffolk, it is not infinite and the team spent much of last season fighting relegation, although Keane is adamant that he has no intention of walking away, as he did from his previous job at Sunderland.

However, he accepted a continuation of the poor results could cost him his job.

"Of course, when you continue to lose matches the pressure builds and ultimately the manager will pay the price and that's the industry we're in," he said.

Albion will make changes after the 4-1 win at Everton, with manager Roberto di Matteo expected to continue his rotation policy in the competition. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Ipswich (probable, 4-4-2) -- Murphy: Eastman, Brown, O'Dea, Smith; Edwards, Norris, Leadbitter, Townsend; Priskin, Scotland.

West Brom (probable, 4-1-4-1) -- Myhill; Shorey, Meite, Pablo, Cech; Reid; Barnes, Cox, Dorrans, Tchoyi; Fortune.

Ref -- M Jones (Cheshire).

Irish Independent

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