EVERY cloud has a silver lining.

And amid the disappointment of Ipswich Town's last-gasp Leasing.com Trophy defeat at Exeter City, there were two rays of sunshine - the return of long-term injury victims Teddy Bishop and Freddie Sears.

Both made their first starts of the season in the third-round tie; both managed more than an hour before being replaced.

On an otherwise gloomy day, certainly in terms of the result and nature of defeat, it was a very positive development and, fingers crossed, Bishop and Sears will feature again in Saturday's League One fixture against Accrington Stanley.

Bishop has been blighted by injury problems but, when fit, there's no disputing his talent, as highlighted at Exeter.

He's a creative force - clever, slick and industrious - and sorely needed in a side currently bereft in that department.

I love his surging runs, with the ball seemingly stuck to his feet, and, in a strange way, given that's he's a very different player in a different position, he reminds me of Titus Bramble.

The defender used to power forward and Bishop does the same, although with grace and finesse rather than brute force. Either way, it's eye-catching.

I'm a fan of Sears, too - a player who's been wasted and used out of position for much of his time at Portman Road.

But get him fit and firing and you've got a striker most teams at this level would love. I genuinely believe that.

Sears' willingness and workrate is second to none and that's always been the case, even during the struggles of recent seasons.

He's a major asset and proven finisher; the only reason he hasn't scored more down the years is because he's been stuck out wide rather than down the middle.

It's a case of stating the obvious but Town simply have to get back on track against Accrington.

Their desperate, alarming winless run now stands at 12 games and it's just one victory in 15.

If the slide isn't halted soon, they'll find themselves outside the play-off places playing catchup.

It's a major worry and, at the risk of repeating myself, I still have reservations about the current regime and management.

But after such a deflating run, I'd love to be proven wrong this weekend.