THE suffering is nearly over for Ipswich Town.

With the curtain mercifully about to drop on their forlorn season, the Blues have just two games left before swapping Championship football – their staple diet for 17 years – for the uncharted waters of League One.

Most supporters will surely say it can’t come soon enough. Like a wounded animal about to be put out of its misery.

After nine bruising months and 24 defeats from 44 matches, the chance for welcome respite – an opportunity to take a breather and recharge batteries – is most definitely appealing.

However, Town’s finale could hardly be tougher.

They head to Sheffield United on Saturday before finishing with a home fixture against Leeds United next Sunday, May 5.

Both Yorkshire giants are in the thick of the promotion race with the Blades sitting second, knowing victory this weekend would guarantee them promotion alongside leaders Norwich City.

Leeds are third, three points behind, and will hope to be in the frame for a top-two spot when they head to Portman Road over the Bank Holiday weekend.

As for Town, it’s about damage limitation, getting over the line with their battered pride intact.

And it’s about being competitive, producing performances that show fight, heart and hope for the future.

In terms of selection, boss Paul Lambert has conundrums to solve.

Given the opposition, does he field his strongest side – a team that, undoubtedly in that case, would include some of the club’s loanees?

Or does he give more game time to the young guns – those that will be the bedrock of the team next season… the likes of Josh Emmanuel, Corrie Ndaba, Myles Kenlock, Idris El Mizouni, Flynn Downes, Tristan Nydam, Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell?

I guess it’s a balancing act but, personally, I’d dish out as many minutes as possible to those listed above.

They will be the core of the squad next season – not loanees who have tried, failed and will soon scuttle back to their parent clubs.

You would hope they would benefit from the experience.

Let’s get these games done, draw a line in the sand and prepare to move on… but only after a much-needed, well-earned break for the fans.