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Keane After Back-to-Back Wins as the Blues Travel to Scunthorpe
Tuesday, 23rd Feb 2010 08:40
Boss Roy Keane is looking for his side to win back-to-back league games for the first time this season when they complete their run of four successive away matches with a trip to Scunthorpe this evening (KO 7.45pm). The Blues boss seems likely to stick with most of the side which defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Keane, whose team beat Blackpool in the FA Cup immediately after defeating QPR in the league but haven’t yet managed consecutive Championship wins, says he got the reaction he wanted after the 3-1 defeat at Peterborough last Tuesday: “The players rolled their sleeves up as I expected and we got a good victory, but we’ve had good victories before, what we need to do now is build on that.
“We need to kick on, it’s no good winning and then losing. We’re on the back of four games away from home on the spin, which is a tough ask for any team, particularly in the Championship because you never know what you’re going to get in certain locations.”
The Blues boss says the poor start to the season is still colouring overall perceptions of the team’s current position: “You can look at football results in different ways. We’ve now won two of the last three away, I think we’ve been beaten in three of the last 20 games or something but because we had such a horrendous start, and throw loads of draws in there, and it looks a different way.
“The bottom line is that we need victories, we got one on Saturday, we now go to Scunthorpe which we know will be another difficult game.”
Keane was happy with the performance against the Owls: “I was very pleased with the win, I thought we played not bad stuff. It wasn’t a classic, the pitch wasn’t great but when you’re playing teams down there with us at the bottom, don’t expect too much pretty stuff.
“It lifted the team to get a clean sheet, Carlos to get his first goal, young Shane to make his debut and Brian Murphy to make his debut.
“There were lots of pluses over the weekend, it wasn’t just about getting a few places up the league because we know that if we win football matches the table will take care of itself.”
Keane was pleased with Shane O’Connor’s league debut, the Town manager telling the 19-year-old that he was in the team on the day of the game: “I was going to tell him on Friday, but I thought I’d wait until the Saturday.
“He’s a decent kid and a game of football is a game of football. I said to him that it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing in front of 40 people or 40,000 or 20,000 as he was on Saturday.
“For the well-balanced lads, it’s a game of football. You’re playing on grass, it’s 11 v 11 and the ball is the same as we use in training, I’m sure of it.
“He’s been a big plus for us, he’s very popular with the reserves. He’s got a chance of being a player. Even when he played earlier in the season in the League Cup tie at Shrewsbury I think he impressed one or two people there, although that was against lesser opposition. We’re very pleased for him.”
Keane was also impressed with his other debutant, keeper Brian Murphy: “He came in, he had a good presence about him. I said after the game that he didn’t have too much to do, but what he did do he did very, very well, but let’s judge him over the next few games.”
The Town manager says Murphy will continue in goal but he is as yet undecided whether to stick with the same team: “We’ll see. I’ll have to take into consideration that we’ve had three games in seven days. Brian Murphy will probably need a run of games now, it’s slightly different for goalkeepers and after he’s kept a clean sheet you can hardly expect him to be left out.
“We have to be careful with young Shane, he had a tough game in the reserves last Wednesday.
“We’ll gauge it. We’ve got other players available who missed out at the weekend, Lee Martin, Owen Garvan missed out, Liam Rosenior was ill. We’ve got plenty of options and hopefully I can try and get it right.”
Asked if David Norris will be rested having only recently come back from a lengthy absence with a knee problem, Keane hinted that the midfielder will keep his place: “I did that with David at Southampton and we missed him, so perhaps that answers the question.”
The Blues held a warm-up session at the side of the pitch before the restart at Hillsborough in order to avoid a repeat of the team’s recent poor second half performances, but Keane says that ideally the session would have gone on for longer: “We wanted to do it a bit earlier but the referee was quick on the buzzer at half-time and before we knew it we were kicking off.”
The Town boss was pleased with the support his side got at Sheffield Wednesday despite feeling that some supporters had lost patience with him after the defeat at Peterborough: “It’s an emotional game and fans will lose faith in managers and players and I think we used that up a bit last Tuesday night. But 1,500 travelled up on Saturday supporting the club and getting behind us and that’s what the real supporters do.
“It’s very easy to support the team when you’re winning, very, very easy. Why do you think the big clubs get 40, 50 or 60,000 every week? Because they’re winning. It’s easy. But it’s the supporters that get behind you when you’re up against it.”
Ahead of Brian Murphy in goal, Shane O’Connor is likely to keep his place at left-back with Gareth McAuley and Damien Delaney established as Town’s centre-halves. Keane will probably switch David Wright for Liam Rosenior if the loanee from Reading is over the illness which kept him out of the side at Hillsborough.
In midfield, David Norris and Grant Leadbitter will keep their places in the centre with Carlos Edwards and Jack Colback likely to continue on the flanks, although Owen Garvan will be amongst a number of players hoping for a recall.
Keane may consider leaving out Daryl Murphy given his lack of games over the season but the loanee has continued to impress despite not being at full match fitness and will probably keep his place. Jon Walters is again likely to play alongside the Irishman with David Healy, Pablo Couñago and Connor Wickham hoping to play some role from the bench.
Scunthorpe, currently in 18th place, one point and one position ahead of the Blues having played a game more but with a significantly worse goal difference, are likely to be without central defender and former Town target Rob Jones, who has a broken nose.
Boss Nigel Adkins says Jones picked up the injury against Barnsley last week and is still unable to breathe properly: "The left side of his nasal passage is blocked so we're hoping the swelling will come down. That will help him to breathe a bit better and the pain will then subside so that he can head the ball.
"He tried to head the ball and he can't head it. Hopefully that will settle down, if not we will have to take some action.
"I'd like to think that when the swelling goes down the nasal passage then becomes freed up and the pain goes away when he heads the football. Anyone who has had a broken nose or a clout there knows it's painful."
Fellow central defender David Mirfin will be OK, despite requiring injections to get through Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Watford: "David has a cut on his toe, it's very swollen.
"He had an injection before the game and at half-time but he got through it no problems at all. The same situation will happen again on Tuesday night.
"He's done very well for us. He's wholehearted, consistent and does exactly what we want him to do."
Midfielder Michael O'Connor has been banned for three games starting from tonight for a punch thrown in retaliation at Watford’s Tom Cleverley on Saturday. The Hornets midfielder was sent off but O’Connor’s offence was missed at the time with the FA subsequently handing out the ban as a result of video evidence.
Midfielder or full-back Andrew Wright is likely to miss out with an ankle injury, while skipper Cliff Byrne is set to make his 200th appearance for the Iron.
Adkins says his squad have what it takes to avoid going down in their first season back in the Championship: "It's going to be nip and tuck all the way through between now and the end of the season. It's all about grinding out results now.
"It's about chipping away and keeping a resolve about us that will keep the scorecard ticking over.
"The lads are showing a togetherness and spirit to do that on the back of what has already been a long season. It's going to be exciting times and nervy times – but we all want the same thing."
Scunthorpe have only beaten the Blues once in history, a 4-0 win at the Old Showground back in Town’s 1960/61 Second Division championship season. The Blues have won seven (five in the league) and drawn two (two).
The sides last met two years ago in Scunthorpe’s relegation season, Town doing the double over Nigel Adkins’s men. At Portman Road, goals from Pablo Couñago, Owen Garvan and Tommy Miller gave the Blues a 3-2 win with Martin Paterson scoring both goals for the visitors.
Later in the season at Glanford Park, Couñago and fellow Spaniard Sito, netting his only Town goal, saw the Blues to a 2-1 win with Ben May scoring for the home side in the final minute. Couñago and Jack Cork, on loan with Scunthorpe from Chelsea, were both red-carded in the second half after a scuffle.
No member of the current Scunthorpe squad has played for the Blues, while Liam Trotter spent time on loan at Glanford Park last season and came on as a sub in their play-off final victory over Millwall, the club with whom he is currently on loan.
The Lincolnshire side offered the Ipswich-born midfielder, who made five starts and nine sub appearances, scoring one goal during his time with the Iron, a contract in the summer but he decided to remain at Portman Road.
Jon Walters was also a loanee at Scunthorpe, in 2005 when a Hull City player, making three appearances but failing to score.
The match was originally scheduled to be played the week before Christmas but succumbed to a frozen pitch.
Tuesday’s referee is Andy Haines, the man who postponed the original fixture. The official from Tyne and Wear has shown 68 yellow and five red cards in 22 games so far this season.
Haines has never previously taken control of a Town match. Scunthorpe fans will fondly remember his last visit to Glanford Park in September 2008 when Gary Hooper scored two last minute goals to take them to a 2-1 victory over Notts County.
Squad from: B Murphy, Lee-Barrett, Rosenior, O’Connor, D Wright, Delaney, McAuley, Balkestein, Leadbitter, Norris, Edwards, Colback, Peters, Quinn, Garvan, Martin, D Murphy, Walters, Healy, Couñago, Wickham.
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