IT’S Monday, October 15.

Ipswich Town have played just 12 of their 46 Championship matches, taking nine points from a possible 36.

That means they still have 34 games left – a potential 102 points – before their final fixture at home to Leeds United on Sunday, May 5.

So why on earth, with so many matches and weeks remaining, do I keep having the expressions ‘must-win’ and ‘six-pointer’ rattling round in my head, prior to next weekend’s home showdown with fellow strugglers QPR?

Clearly, Town aren’t going to be relegated if they lose.

They’re not going to be anchored or marooned at the basement and it’s still relatively early days.

We’re only a quarter of the way through the season, for goodness sake.

But that’s the rational, logical part of my brain thinking.

The more emotive side keeps asking the same question.

In the context of what’s been a challenging and surprisingly rocky first few weeks, for the team, their plethora of new signings and most certainly manager Paul Hurst, do Town simply have to beat the Hoops?

The answer? I can’t help but say yes.

I may be shot down in flames for saying that and it’s not intended to be negative or unsupportive. Far from it.

But I can’t help feeling that if things don’t go well, it could prove a pivotal, defining point in the season.

It would undo the good work of that long-awaited first victory of the season, at Swansea City.

And clearly, it would put the manager – someone I’m still firmly behind – under enormous pressure and scrutiny.

The natives are already restless. I don’t want to envisage a scenario where the home crowd – swelled thanks to the club’s excellent ticket promotion – go home disappointed.

In terms of confidence and the overall mood and morale, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

You also have to take the opposition into account.

As a quick glance at the league table confirms, QPR have their own problems and can surely be pigeon-holed into the ‘beatable’ category (as, intriguingly, do three of the next four opponents after Saturday – Millwall, Preston and Reading).

They’re 18th and have only won one of their last five league and cup matches, scoring just two goals in that time.

In fact, they’re the joint-lowest scorers across the Championship, League One and League Two, having also conceded more than Town.

Coincidentally, they also won just one of their first five matches – when boss Steve McClaren was reportedly facing the chop – and so their position would be even worse had it not been for a spurt in late-August and early September.

Town, like all their rivals, have had a fortnight off for the international break.

A chance to rest and recharge but also to train hard and iron out some of the wrinkles that have blighted these opening weeks.

It’s essential they show progress and improvement and what better time, or finer stage, than in a game like this at Portman Road.

Let’s hope it’s a day of celebration rather than frustration.

As I said at the start, Town’s world won’t come to an end if they don’t win on Saturday.

They won’t be facing ruin or relegation and they’ll live to fight another day.

But it could be a turning point – the difference between a genuine revival, building on that first win, or something much darker and dire.

For the sake of the club, and especially its manager, I sincerely hope it’s the former.