THE flickering flame of hope is just about alive, as far as Ipswich Town’s mission to remain in the Championship goes.

However, it could effectively be snuffed out if the Blues fail to beat fellow strugglers Rotherham United at Portman Road on Saturday.

Just like Town’s last home fixture, during which they led and dominated before collapsing to defeat against Millwall, this is another match that most definitely falls into the “must-win" category.

Anything less is unthinkable.

Town are already ten points behind the fourth-from-bottom Millers, with a significantly worse goal difference (-25 compared to -16).

So the need to pull a special performance out of the bag, and be rewarded with maximum points, has never been greater.

An eventful week started on another morale-sapping note, following Town’s FA Cup defeat at League One outfit Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

But boss Paul Lambert has successfully added to his squad in the days since, just as he did this time last week by recruiting left-back Callum Elder and striker Will Keane, on loan from Leicester City and Hull City respectively.

Next through the door was Huddersfield Town front man Collin Quaner, on loan until the end of the season, followed by former Tottenham Hotspur, Derby County and San Jose Earthquakes attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins.

The 31-year-old has joined on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

Town’s new recruits could have a major role to play and their arrival will undoubtedly pep up a squad that must, despite their claims to the contrary, be low on confidence.

Fresh faces bring fresh enthusiasm, renewed hope and a hunger for game-time, to make a name for themselves after spells in the wilderness.

Lambert suddenly has fresh options, both in terms of his team and bench, and that obviously creates fierce competition.

Again, something that can only be a good thing.

He can also add into the mix returning pair Cole Skuse and Emyr Huws.

Both have been sidelined through injury – for the best part of a year, as far as the latter goes – and that will beef up the midfield.

So in terms of personnel, there are undoubtedly positives heading into Saturday’s game.

However, the thing that matters most – more than anything – is three points, preferably allied to favourable results from the games involving Wigan Athletic (fifth from bottom), Bolton Wanderers (third from bottom) and Reading (second from bottom).

Town have to keep fighting, to keep that flame – representing their hopes of a great escape – alive.

Being relegated is one thing; going down with a whimper, without a fight, would be unforgivable.

Let’s hope they can signal their intentions, and make a bit of a statement, this weekend.