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The case for the defence

PUBLISHED: 08:52 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 09:32 11 May 2010

THE low-down on Ipswich Town's defensive personnel during the first 10 league fixtures of this season:



GARETH MCAULEY

(7 league games)



STRIPPED of the captaincy earlier this season, the Northern Ireland centre-half put a nightmarish start to the campaign behind him with a promising display at Sheffield United.

THE low-down on Ipswich Town's defensive personnel during the first 10 league fixtures of this season:

GARETH MCAULEY

(7 league games)

STRIPPED of the captaincy earlier this season, the Northern Ireland centre-half put a nightmarish start to the campaign behind him with a promising display at Sheffield United. Sent off in stoppage time against Nottingham Forest, for a professional foul on Dele Adebola, he served a one-match ban while also struggling to overcome a calf injury. But he marked his return to the side with his first goal for Town, in his 45th senior appearance, with a sweet header on Tuesday night.

TOMMY SMITH

(4 league games)

His last two league starts have been away from home, in the 3-3 draws at Doncaster and Sheffield. The teenager made the odd error at the Keepmoat Stadium, but also hit the bar with a cracking header, while he looked far more at home against the Blades. He and McAuley were part of a defence that stood up well, until those frantic last 12 minutes.

ALEX BRUCE

(8 league games)

Town's skipper has played more games than any other defender this term. He has only missed two to date - he was an unused substitute at Leicester, and was sidelined with a groin problem for the Sheffield United game. His versatility means he can play at right-back as well as centre-half, but injury is again set to keep him out at Barnsley tomorrow.

PIM BALKESTEIN

(6 league games)

The Dutchman has now been in the English game for more than a year, following his £100,000 switch from SC Heerenveen during the summer of 2008. The 22-year-old is still learning his trade, and has been dogged by inconsistency so far this season. He is a centre-half of huge promise, but was at fault for Kevin Nolan's solo second goal in Newcastle's 4-0 romp, and was only on the bench on Tuesday night.

DAVID WRIGHT

(2 league games)

The ex-Crewe and Wigan full-back has been out-of-favour for more than a month, ever since the disappointing Carling Cup defeat at Peterborough. But he has knuckled down in the Reserves and was back in the 18-man squad at Sheffield United, although he was only an unused substitute. He could be knocking on the door for a return.

LIAM ROSENIOR

(5 league games)

The Reading loanee has teamed up well with big-money signing Carlos Edwards down the right flank. They have started the last five games together, and have certainly been one of the most encouraging partnerships in the Town set-up.

DAMIEN DELANEY

(7 league games)

The Irishman was purchased from QPR this summer, after making 42 appearances in all competitions for the Londoners last term, he has been in-and-out of the side at left-back under Keane. He was left out of the squad at Bramall Lane, after a below-par performance against Newcastle, during which he was blamed for the first goal netted by hat-trick man Kevin Nolan.

JAIME PETERS

(5 league games)

Renowned for his speed as a tricky winger throughout his early career, the 22-year-old has been employed as a left-back in recent times. He played the full 90 minutes in that role at Sheffield United on Tuesday night.

BEN THATCHER

(0 league appearances)

The experienced 33-year-old has not featured at all this season, after playing 20 league games following his move from Charlton the previous summer. His cause has not been helped by injuries. Manager Keane has admitted that he is not part of his immediate plans.

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