PAUL Jewell is never one to mince his words.

His "pub team" post-match comments after the 4-0 defeat at Burnley last season were back-page gold.

Not quite on the same scale, but he was at it again on Tuesday night when he laid into his players following a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Southend United.

The side he put out was pretty close to the one he would field if the new season started today and it flopped miserably.

Jewell reacted by virtually guaranteeing changes ahead of the August 18 opener against Blackburn, warning his current squad that they were "nowhere near good enough".

Strong stuff for the aftermath of a friendly.

But sadly Jewell was spot on. In my mind, and having seen all but one of the pre-season friendlies, Town are five players short of having a squad capable of challenging for the play-offs.

The right two or three new additions might encourage current players to perform to greater heights whereas it might be more than five should Arran Lee-Barrett leave in search of first-team football or Aston Villa offer big, nay, stupid money for left-back Aaron Cresswell.

But I would plump for five new players before the end of August with two or three arriving before the Championship kicks off. Sadly, this is only my hopes rather than actual expectations. And with less than two weeks to go until competitive football resumes, it is a worrying turn of events.

WHAT IS NEEDED (IN ORDER OF PRIORITY)...

* Two centre forwards: Two might seem a little greedy but Town are too reliant on Michael Chopra, a player who offers so much in front of goal but lacks two key ingredients - pace and height. So, Town need two strikers to answer these gaps. A muscular physical presence upfront is the biggest priority for me. In that sense, you can understand Paul Jewell's interest in Emile Heskey and certainly someone who can truly lead the line and be a foil to Chopra is crucial. Daryl Murphy remains an option as well as Steve Davies. But I would also like to see Jewell bring in a quick forward. Sheer pace has been lacking at Ipswich for too long. Getting one new striker is proving troublesome, so two might be difficult. But one permanent and one loan is surely not beyond the realms of possibility. Sam Baldock (below) or Nicky Maynard would do nicely, but West Ham would appear to want to sell rather than loan. Probability: One striker (8/10), two strikers (5/10).

* A winger (preferably on the left): Town's current options out wide range from the unpredictability of Lee Martin, as a winger, to Josh Carson, who doesn't quite seem ready to make the step-up to regular Championship football. Then there is Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Town's most disappointing player in pre-season (and, no, not because of that tweet). A lack of pace is again lacking out wide and whether a left-winger comes in or a right-sided player, and then maybe move JET to the left, this is an area that needs to be targeted. Swindon's Matt Ritchie would have done nicely, likewise Alan Judge from Notts County. But both appear to have been priced out of a move. James Coppinger from Doncaster Rovers is back on the radar but the loan market again looks likely - Andros Townsend has his fans but Robbie Brady, the Manchester United winger who spent time at Hull, would also be a good pick. Probability (7/10)

* A centre-back: I hope I am proved wrong, or more importantly they prove Jewell wrong, but I still have my doubts as to whether the Blues boss truly rates Damien Delaney and Tommy Smith. The former has not painted himself in a great light thus far this summer while the former, who could well start against West Ham tomorrow, still has plenty to prove on a consistent basis. The same could actually be said for Luke Chambers who needs to up his game and be the leader Jewell wants him to be. With that background, a fourth centre-back is key for me. Working with little money, a Premier League youngster on loan is an option or someone who needs to play games but is not in a top-tier 25-man squad - take Danny Collins last season. Free agent Paul Scharner (below) was a name mentioned to me this week with Jewell managing him at Wigan. Wages could be a problem but I would have no qualms with Jewell turning to the right, experienced thirty-something. Jewell admitted this week he did bid for George Friend, also from Doncaster, though why he would want three left-sided centre backs is beyond me. Unless he expected developments with Cresswell or Delaney. Probability (7/10)

* A creative midfielder: Last year, I wrote that the thing Town lacked the most was creativity and pace. I still fear the same. Massimo Luongo has been an inspired loan signing, though it is telling that he doesn't belong to Ipswich. It might be the Spurs loanee could be pushed further forward, as he did to good effect against Southend. But presuming he remains a holding midfielder, Luke Hyam, Ryan Stevenson and Andy Drury are all too workmanlike for me. Hardly a criticism, just that they will work better having a creative influence alongside them. Can Jimmy Bullard still be that man? I have largely seen nothing over the summer games to suggest better times are just around the corner for our magician. I truly hope I am wrong. Probability (4/10)

***

It could be that Town's under-performers step up to the plate when the Premier League comes to Portman Road tomorrow. It could be that Jewell brings in two or three players and everything clicks.

But right now, I have my doubts - and Jewell's comments on Tuesday suggests he shares them. I have doubts about the starting 11 and the strength in depth of the whole squad. Go on Town, prove me wrong.