|Portsmouth 0 v 1 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League Two
Tuesday, 14th February 2012 Kick-off 19:45
Delaney's Return Only Town Change at Portsmouth
Tuesday, 14th Feb 2012 10:47
Damien Delaney replacing the injury Ibrahima Sonko at the heart of the defence seems likely to be the Blues’ only change when they take on Portsmouth at Fratton Park tonight looking for their third win in three games (KO 7.45pm). The Town stand-in skipper dislocated a rib in Saturday’s abandoned match against Middlesbrough and will be out for up to a month.
Jewell says his players took the weekend’s events in their stride: “They had to cope with it. We came in on Sunday morning and trained. Players cope with things, you get used to it.
“There’s no point in worrying about something you can’t change. Some of them thought it was OK [to carry on], others didn’t. The referee decided it wasn’t playable, so we accept the decision and we move on and look forward to the next game.
“I thought we were in the ascendency, we were the better team but it was getting treacherous. It was only going to get worse and if we’d have lost the game to a mistake due to the conditions I would have been annoyed, as would our supporters and as would Tony Mowbray [if he had been in that situation].
“I know it’s horrible and I know it’s not ideal but I think in the end the right decision was probably made.”
The Blues boss says he hopes his side continue their recent good form tonight: “We’ve got eight goals in the last two games and you could see by the way we started on Saturday that we were a team playing with confidence - we began the game well.
“But that’s gone now, we’ve got to try and take that momentum into the game at Portsmouth.”
Despite the back-to-back victories against West Ham and Coventry, the Blues are still in 19th position in the Championship with Jewell admitting that his side have underperformed over the campaign as a whole: “We’re disappointed to find ourselves in the situation where we are at the wrong end of the table.
“We’re still in a fight, we’re still scrapping for our lives, we know that. We need more points quickly to be safe and hopefully to build for next season.
“That’s our aim at the moment - trying to get as many points as quickly as possible. It’s a really tough league, a really competitive league, there’s no game you can go into that you can play at half-pace and win and there’s no game that you think you can’t win.”
He says he wants his side to get themselves away from the wrong end of the table sooner rather than later: “Games come thick and fast, it’s going to be Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday almost all the way to the end of the season now.
“We need to get as many points as quickly as possible to try and pull away from that danger zone.”
Arran Lee-Barrett is set to continue in goal with Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Edwards the full-backs.
Tommy Smith is likely to move to the right-sided central defensive role as he did when Delaney - who may be handed the captain's armband - took over from Sonko on Saturday with the Irishman on the left of the pairing. Jack Ainsley, more usually viewed as a right-back, will be the central defensive option on the bench with Jewell unable to bring in any emergency cover since the weekend.
In midfield, Luke Hyam and Andy Drury will again keep Jimmy Bullard and Grant Leadbitter on the bench with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Daryl Murphy the widemen.
New signing Ryan Stevenson could be included in the 16 for the first time, although Josh Carson is a more likely inclusion if Jewell is looking to make changes to his subs. Lee Bowyer is unlikely to be involved as he continues his comeback from his recent groin problem.
Lee Martin will play in his role between the midfield four and lone striker Michael Chopra, who will be looking to add to his three goals in the last two (completed) games.
Pompey are currently two places and one point ahead of the Blues in 17th, although are set for a 10-point deduction having made an application to the High Court to go into administration for the second time in two years.
Manager Michael Appleton says he expects the Blues to be itching to get back into action after the weekend’s events, in front of what he hopes will be a partisan Pompey crowd: “I would imagine Ipswich will be dying to get on the field and get their frustrations out against us.
“But hopefully we’ll have as near to a full house as possible. A faithful backing can spur the players on to get three points.
“At the weekend the fans showed everyone what kind of spirit they have. They’ve shown a lot of passion for the football club and I think the Blackpool supporters were impressed.
“And hopefully the players sent out the message that whatever gets thrown at us, we’ll fight right to the end."
Former Blues skipper David Norris is recovering after a hernia operation and is not expected to return, while striker Luke Varney is still out with a knee injury. Veteran ex-Arsenal man Kanu is absent due to a back problem.
Historically, Town have won 18 (17 in the league), drawn 11 (11) and lost 11 (nine) against Portsmouth.
The Blues haven’t been beaten at Fratton Park in 14 games since October 1966 (seven Town wins, seven draws) when former Blues midfielder Bobby Kellard netted twice for Pompey, John McClelland and Johnny Gordon adding the others, in a 4-2 victory for the south coast side, Gerry Baker scoring both for Town.
Portsmouth have a decent home record in the league this season, however, winning seven, drawing three and losing three.
In October, Keith Andrews’s fifth goal for the Blues saw Paul Jewell’s men to a fortunate 1-0 home victory over Pompey.
The visitors missed a number of good chances before the Irishman netted the winner from close range in the 69th minute.
Early last season, the sides drew 0-0 at Fratton Park. Former Blues loanee Darren O'Dea missed a good first half opportunity and then-Town skipper Norris hit the post in the second as both teams came close to breaking the deadlock in a game which probably deserved to end level.
Norris joined Pompey from the Blues in the summer, while Town made a triple move for Jason Pearce, Joel Ward and Stephen Henderson in January. Pompey turned down the Blues’ bid for central defender Pearce, while keeper Henderson and defender or midfielder Ward were unable to agree personal terms.
Ibrahima Sonko spent last season on loan at Fratton Park from Stoke, making 20 starts and seven sub appearances, scoring one goal.
Tonight’s referee is Darren Deadman from Cheshunt, who has shown an astonishing 146 yellow and 11 red cards in 33 matches so far this season.
Deadman’s most recent Town match was the 3-1 home victory over Brighton earlier in the season in which he booked Grant Leadbitter, Lee Bowyer and one Seagull.
Squad from: Lee-Barrett, McCarthy, Edwards, Cresswell, Smith, Delaney, Ainsley, Drury, Hyam, Bullard, Leadbitter, Stevenson, Emmanuel-Thomas, Murphy, Carson, Martin, Chopra, Scotland, Ellington.
Photo: Action Images
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