|Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Blackburn Rovers|
Saturday, 18th August 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Jewell: Blackburn Opener Big Test for Youngsters
Friday, 17th Aug 2012 09:41
Blues boss Paul Jewell admits that Saturday’s opening Championship game of the season at home to Blackburn Rovers will be a “huge test” for his young side (KO 3pm). The Town manager was pleased with his team’s performance as they beat League Two Bristol Rovers in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday but expects a far greater challenge to be presented by the recently relegated Lancastrians.
Jewell felt Tuesday’s match was a good way to start the season: “I think it was important to get a win and not only did we get a win but we got a decent performance.
“We were in control of the game for the majority of it. In the first half, we passed the ball a little bit slowly, but in the second we upped the tempo and we created a lot of opportunities.
“We know that come Saturday it will be more difficult and Blackburn will come at us a bit more than Bristol Rovers did.”
Despite the win and encouraging display, Jewell wants to see more from his side against Blackburn: “We need to improve all over the pitch. Every team wants to peak for its first game of the season.
“We’ve got to move the ball quicker, we’ve got to take our chances and do all the usual things like stop opportunities coming in to our box.
“I think it will be a huge test for us on Saturday. I think Blackburn are favourites to go back up, it’s a really tough league.
“But it’s a game that we’re looking forward to. We’ve got a lot of young players around the squad, one or two who might be making their debuts and are excited to be a part of the great game.”
On-loan Tottenham man Massimo Luongo will be making a league bow – Scott Loach and Luke Chambers will be playing their first league games for Town – having impressed in pre-season and against the Pirates.
The Blues boss says it’s important to remember that the Australian is still very much a novice: “He’ll be making his debut on Saturday. It’s a big game for him. He’s done really well in the pre-season games for us.
“He’s only 19 and we’ve got to be careful not to expect too much of him, but he’s very assured, he’s very calm on the ball, he’s young, hungry and really looking forward to the game on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a big test for him and one or two others as well, but whatever the outcome they’ll be better for the experience.”
Jewell has virtually a full strength squad to pick from with summer signing Elliott Hewitt the only absentee as he recovers from the hip impingement operations he underwent while still a Macclesfield player. The Wales U21 international is now running and is expected to return to action in September.
The Town manager is unlikely to stray too far from the XI which started on Tuesday. Loach will be in goal, Carlos Edwards and Aaron Cresswell in the full-back roles and Chambers and Tommy Smith at the centre of the defence.
Jewell will probably switch to his 4-2-3-1 formation from the 4-4-2 he fielded on Tuesday with Josh Carson coming in on the left of midfield, Lee Martin moving into his role behind lone striker Michael Chopra and Jason Scotland dropping to the bench.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas will be on the right of midfield with Luongo and either Luke Hyam or Andy Drury alongside him. Hyam may well get the nod with Drury only just back from his calf injury.
The likes of Joe Whight and Byron Lawrence are likely to be on the bench, which this season returns to seven players.
For Blackburn, former England man Danny Murphy is over a foot injury and is expected to skipper his new club on his debut, but striker Leon Best (knee), keeper Mark Bunn (hip), left-back Martin Olsson (groin) and striker Ruben Rochina (hamstring) are all out.
Manager Steve Kean is happy with his travelling party despite those absentees: "We aren't doing too badly, we've not got too many injured.
"We've got Mark Bunn who is getting over his hip operation and he was going really well but he's just had a little bit of a setback, so he's not going to be available,
"Martin Olsson still hasn't resumed full training after his groin operation in the summer and even if he can get back onto the grass next week he'll still find himself four to six weeks behind everyone else in their fitness levels, so it is going to be a little bit of time to get him up to speed.
"Ruben Rochina has just had his first day back after having a sizeable tear in his hamstring so it is unlikely he'll be available, whilst Leon Best is, of course, out long term.
"But the good news is that Danny Murphy has trained all week after missing a couple of weeks with a foot injury, so he should be fine for Saturday."
Kean has expressed his annoyance at Blackburn ‘global advisor’ Shebby Singh’s recent reference to Morten Gamst Pedersen as a "pensioner". Singh has since apologised for making the comment and also for stating that the manager would be sacked if he lost three consecutive matches.
The Rovers boss said: "Personal criticism of this nature is never acceptable and the players are shocked that someone from within their club has seen fit to make such comments.
"Whilst accepting that anyone can have an opinion on football, someone in such a position of responsibility should be more mindful of the comments he makes, particularly when you consider what a valuable member of the team Morten is and the great contribution he has made and continues to make to Blackburn Rovers and Norway."
Town have had the upper hand on Rovers over the years, winning 16 games (13 in the league) between the teams, losing 11 (10) and drawing 14 (13).
The match is the third competitive game in succession in which the Blues have met a side named Rovers, almost certainly for the first time in the club’s history. Having ended last season with a 3-2 win at Doncaster Rovers, they opened this campaign with the 3-1 Capital One Cup victory over Bristol Rovers.
Town and Blackburn last met in the Premier League in the 2001/02 season when the Portman Road match in the September ended 1-1 with Alun Armstrong on target for the Blues and Matt Jansen for the visitors. A late Marcus Stewart goal was controversially ruled out by referee Graham Poll.
At Ewood Park in the following March, Andy Cole and Damien Duff netted for the home side and Stewart for the Blues as Town went down 2-1 on their way to relegation.
No player will be facing his old club, although former Blues striker David Lowe is now working at Rovers’ academy having previously been on Paul Jewell’s staff at Wigan and Derby.
Saturday's ticket prices are at the now reduced Grade C rates with a lower Sir Bobby Robson Stand or Sir Alf Ramsey Stand adult ticket at £20. More details here.
Meanwhile the club have confirmed that My Way will be the club anthem after the recent fans' vote and will be played before kick-off.
Saturday’s referee is Darren Drysdale from Lincolnshire, who showed 100 yellow and five red cards in 43 games last season. His most recent Town match was the 1-1 draw at Southampton in March in which he booked only Daryl Murphy and former Blue Dan Harding.
Town squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Cresswell, Ainsley, Whight, Smith, Chambers, Delaney, Luongo, Drury, Hyam, Martin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Carson, Stevenson, Lawrence, Chopra, Scotland, Murray, Ellington.
Blackburn squad from: Robinson, Kean, Orr, Givet, Dann, Henley, Hanley, Ribeiro, Lowe, Fabio Nunes, Dunn, Formica, Petrovic, Pedersen, Murphy, Markus Olsson, Paulo Jorge, Etuhu, Vukcevic, Edinho, Nuno Gomes, Goodwillie, Kazim-Richards.
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