TIM Ream has been passed to play at Ipswich Town tomorrow – offering the hint of a silver lining to what has otherwise been a cloudy period for Wanderers.

While Dougie Freedman’s left-back search remains as exhaustive as ever, the American, who suffered a horrific facial injury at QPR on Tuesday night, may yet be able to step in as a stop-gap.

Youngster Hayden White is standing by but the Wanderers boss revealed yesterday that he is expecting Ream to be patched up at Portman Road. “We’re yet to see what the full damage is with Tim and he will see a specialist,” he said.

“Even if it is a broken nose he can play and at this moment I’d say he’s likely to.

“If it is what we think then he’ll need an operation but he has trained his morning.”

Ream’s injury has been no laughing matter – and the aerial challenge by QPR’s Charlie Austin is still one that rankles with the Wanderers boss.

But Freedman was able to look on the bright side when asked if the defender would be playing in a Phantom of the Opera-style mask for the occasion.

“He’s a good looking lad, why would he need a mask?” joked the Scot.

“We won’t need him to play in a mask but he will need a safeguard at the bridge of his nose.”

Such has been his frustration in trying to land a left back, Freedman joked that he even considered holding open trials at Euxton.

“If you’ve got any talent about you, turn up with your boots,” he said.

“It’s been a nightmare. Even with the Chelseas – I’ve been in contact about a couple of younger players but even their left-backs are difficult to get out.

“Left back is someone who balances your team up. Alex Baptiste has done a fantastic job, so has Tim, but they are not natural left-backs.

“There is no-one in the under-21s or the youth team that I think is ready for the first team in that position.”

The fact Freedman called on Chelsea opened up an opportunity to discuss one of the Reebok’s most clandestine tales – the fabled loan agreement that was made with the London club the day that Gary Cahill went to Chelsea for £7million.

Freedman has called on contacts at Chelsea, this week and in the previous two transfer windows, to see if any of Stamford Bridge’s young talents would be available and within his price range, most recently with Nathaniel Chalboah.

But he doubts whether an agreement between the two clubs actually exists in writing.

“I’ve been told about this agreement by a couple of Bolton fans – but I’m yet to actually see it,” he said.

“I’ve certainly tried to exercise it. But I’m not sure it has ever existed; not to my knowledge anyway.”