|Bolton Wanderers 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 1st December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Town Likely to Be Unchanged at Bolton
Friday, 30th Nov 2012 11:30
Boss Mick McCarthy appears likely to select an unchanged side for Saturday’s game at Bolton Wanderers. Midfielder Luke Hyam is a doubt with a calf problem sustained in the 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest, but McCarthy was confident that the 21-year-old would be fit to face the Trotters.
The Blues manager is expecting a tough afternoon against the Lancastrians, whose squad has remained relatively intact since their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season.
He said: “I think they’ve got a squad which should be up in the play-offs, at least. I really think they’ve got good players. They didn’t lose many when they dropped out of the Premier League.
“Dougie Freedman’s gone in, he did a great job at Crystal Palace and he’s got the job up there. It’s not that everything’s just turned to gold for him because it doesn’t. He got the job because Owen Coyle lost it through poor results.
“They had a great result on Wednesday, I’ve not seen the game as yet, but it was a terrific result beating Blackburn [2-1] and sets it up nicely for us going up there.”
He says Freedman, who took over at the Reebok in late October and has a record there of won two, drawn five and lost one, was wise to bring his backroom team from Palace with him: “He took [assistant manager] Lennie Lawrence, who is hugely experienced, with him and he’s got [first-team coach] Curtis Fleming, who also came with him from Crystal Palace as well, who is well thought of.
“He’s got his own staff and we all like our own staff, it makes us better, which is why we take our staff with us.
“He’s got a really good squad of players. If you go through it, it’s one of the best squads in the division.”
A poor start to the season saw Coyle sacked after 10 games with the Trotters then in 18th place. McCarthy says it can be difficult for teams to adjust after dropping out of the Premier League: “The bump from relegation is a particularly hard landing, believe me.
“It’s about how the players react. The problem is that lots of the players want to leave, despite the fact that they’ve got the club relegated along with the manager and everybody else.
“They basically decide they want to up sticks and go because they don’t want to play in the Championship. It takes a while to change that mindset.
“I think, looking at Blackburn, at Wolves and at Bolton, that’s been the case. That result on Wednesday against Blackburn, I hope it’s not setting them up for a good run.”
McCarthy says he’s taking each game as it comes as he looks to get the Blues out of the danger area: “Getting something at Bolton is my target.
“Well, the ultimate aim is to stay in this league. We’ve got out of the bottom three and everybody’s feeling good about it, but we could be back in there. At some stage we could be back in, who’s to say? It’s being out of it at the end of the season.
“I have to say that because if you are back in it, how do you react to that? Everybody’s cock-a-hoop when you are out of it and yet there’s 27 games left and you’ve got to be conscious that you keep some sort of level head and keep picking up points all the way through.”
He says he’d be happy with a repeat of Tuesday’s display: “If we play like we did against Forest, we’ll be fine, we might win the game. Who’s to say? They might be brilliant. I can’t ever tell that. Would I settle for exactly the same performance? All day long. We played well.”
Stephen Henderson was one of Town’s top performers against Forest and will keep his place in goal with Bradley Orr at right-back, Aaron Cresswell on the left and with Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers in the centre.
In midfield, Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw were both praised for their performances – and goals – in midweek and will keep their places unless the former Northgate High School pupil fails to recover from his calf injury. If he misses out, with former Trotter Nigel Reo-Coker out with a hamstring problem, Andy Drury looks likely to come into the side.
Skipper Carlos Edwards will be on the right, Lee Martin on the left with DJ Campbell and Tyrone Barnett again the strike pairing.
Aside from Reo-Coker, Paul Taylor is the only other man sidelined at present, the former Peterborough striker set to miss the rest of the campaign having undergone foot surgery. Bilel Mohsni looks likely to be left out of the 18 with only five of Town's six domestic loanees permitted in a matchday squad.
Bolton are unbeaten in their last six but like his Town counterpart Freedman isn’t getting carried away by a few results: “There is a long way to go but I think we are seeing glimpses of what this team can achieve.
“We now need to keep the consistency up, and that is the big question that we have to ask ourselves because you need consistency in this league. The games come quick and fast and hopefully we can keep that up.
“I have to take my hat off to the lads as they have been fantastic in terms that they have taken on board what we are trying to do on the training ground and they are trying to put things that are wrong right, and credit to them.”
He expects Saturday’s game to be a battle: “Ipswich are fighting for their lives as they are down the bottom, and we can’t think for one minute that we are going to just turn up and turn them over.
“My players don’t have that attitude about them. We will brief them with exactly what Ipswich have been doing, and an idea of how we can break them down, and if we can go by in that way and keep up our consistency, then we can beat any team in this division.
“McCarthy is there to do a job and try to keep his team up and if you watch them in the last three or four games, they are fighting very hard. When you get that in a team it is going to be very hard for us.”
Freedman, who has gained a reputation for tinkering with his team since moving to Lancashire, is waiting on the fitness of Bulgarian international winger Martin Petrov, who has a hamstring problem.
Midfielder Mark Davies is back having served a one-game suspension for amassing five yellow cards, while keeper Andy Lonergan, defender David Wheater, midfielder Stuart Holden and midfielder Josh Vela are all out long-term with knee injuries.
Captain Kevin Davies is a friend of Blues boss Mick McCarthy’s having played golf with the Town manager in the summer in the Caribbean.
Historically things are delicately poised, Town having won 13 times (11 in the league), Bolton 13 (nine) and with seven (six) games between the teams ending in draws. Bolton currently sit in 17th in the Championship on 25 points, eight more than the Blues, who are in 21st.
The most famous meeting between the teams was the Blues’ 5-3 (7-5 aggregate) play-off victory in 2000. Jim Magilton scored a hat-trick, Bolton were reduced to nine men, had ten players booked and conceded three penalties. Magilton scored one and missed one and Jamie Clapham netted the other before a fifth goal from Martijn Reuser saw Town to Wembley for the first time since the 1978 Charity Shield.
The last game between the sides at the Reebok Stadium was memorable for different reasons, Town’s 4-1 loss in April 2002 all but confirming their relegation from the Premier League. Fredi Bobic netted a hat-trick and Youri Djorkaeff added another to make it 4-0 at half-time. Clapham pulled one back late on for Town.
Since then, the teams have met once in the FA Cup at Portman Road in 2005, at the third round stage. Henrik Pedersen scored twice for the Trotters and Stylianos Giannakopoulos once as they progressed 3-1, Tommy Miller notching for the Blues.
Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is the only current Town player to have featured for Bolton, the 28-year-old having spent last season at the Reebok, making 42 starts and scoring three goals.
Keith Andrews spent the first half of last season on loan at Portman Road from Blackburn, scoring nine goals in 19 starts and one sub appearance. He joined West Brom in January, then moved on to Bolton in the close season. American midfielder Stuart Holden spent time on trial with the Blues in 2005.
Saturday’s referee is Michael Naylor from South Yorkshire, who has shown 33 yellow cards and two reds in 15 games so far this season. Naylor’s most recent Town match was the 2-1 Carling Cup defeat to Northampton at Portman Road last season in which he booked only one visiting player.
Squad from: Henderson, Loach, Lee-Barrett, Orr, Hewitt, Cresswell, Chambers, Higginbotham, Smith, Mohsni, Hyam, N’Daw, Drury, Edwards, Carson, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy, Campbell, Barnett, Chopra, Scotland.
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