Ipswich Town fan RUSSELL CLAYDON looks at positives for next season, but is afraid of the Blues’ revolving door.

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OF THE current top six, only already-promoted Reading have proved to be a class above us over both games.

And the 1-1 draw against a Birmingham City side with plenty still to play for at Portman Road on Tuesday showed yet again we can more than live with these sides.

It left me wondering just how far away we are from fulfilling that promise of a top six side.

We absolutely dominated the Midlands Blues from start to finish on Tuesday and I couldn’t believe how we didn’t come away with a win.

But rather than points, we took away plenty of optimism, from what has been a hugely frustrating campaign.

The wins against West Ham United (1-0 and 5-1) showed that at our best we can cut it, but the humiliations at home to Southampton (5-2) and at Peterborough United (7-1) tell a very different story.

Horrible inconsistency is the reason why we will finish somewhere slap bang in the middle of the Championship once again.

But while you haven’t found too much praise flowing from this column over the past eight months, there are positive shoots for next season:

1. Aaron Cresswell: The left-back gets my vote for player-of-the-season and has been just the kind of young, hungry player we need to replicate in the transfer market in the summer.

2. 4-2-3-1: The change from the hit-and-miss 4-4-2 variations (eg diamond) suddenly found a home in our side for Lee Martin and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (JET) to both flourish.

3. Tommy Smith: The youngster has been given a run in the side and made it his own. Add a right-sided experienced head alongside him next season and watch him shine.

4. The matchwinner: JET has had fans on the edge of their seats at times and seems to be growing into a real talent who I believe could hit double figures in the goal tally next term.

5. The fox in the box: Michael Chopra has had one of the worst years of his life off the pitch, but the club have stood by him – and you can see why when he has still managed to bag 14 league goals despite being off colour.

What I do fear though is the revolving door at Portman Road starting to loosen on its hinges again.

Jewell said in his programme notes we are still not in the position of adding two or three better players year-on-year, instead of the double figures of last term. But we should have been at this stage by now; not looking for a goalkeeper, right-back, back-up left-back, centre-half, central midfielder, winger and striker.

With two dead rubbers left, against Millwall at home on Saturday and at relegated Doncaster seven days later, let’s learn something about the fringe players and, in particular, youngsters.

Jewell doesn’t seem too confident Luke Hyam and Josh Carson are ready to handle a full campaign, but I beg to differ. And there are plenty on Saturday who would love to get a glimpse of whizkid Bryon Lawrence – after all, what have we to lose?