|Bristol City 2 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 26th January 2013 Kick-off 15:00
McCarthy Could Make Changes for Trip to Bristol City
Friday, 25th Jan 2013 12:46
Mick McCarthy looks likely to make one or two changes to the Town side which disappointingly drew 1-1 at home to Barnsley as the Blues take on bottom-of-the-table Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday. Despite the continuing bad weather this week, the game is not expected to be in any doubt.
The Blues boss admitted that his team were under-par against the Tykes and may look to freshen things up as he looks to put 13 points between the Blues and the table-propping Robins.
Scott Loach is set to keep his place in goal, although McCarthy has confirmed that he wants to add another keeper to his squad with Stephen Henderson's return on loan from West Ham possible.
Bristol City old boy Bradley Orr is set to play the final game of his loan spell before he returns to Blackburn at right-back, while Aaron Cresswell will be on the left and Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers in the centre.
The Town manager may look at changing things in the centre of the midfield with Andy Drury perhaps returning for Luke Hyam alongside Guirane N’Daw. Skipper Carlos Edwards and Lee Martin are set to continue on the flanks.
Up front, David McGoldrick is likely to keep his place, but McCarthy may choose to recall Daryl Murphy alongside him with Aaron Mclean having looked short on match sharpness since joining on loan from Hull City.
Town have a fully fit squad, aside from long-term absentee Paul Taylor, who is set to miss the rest of the season having undergone foot surgery.
It’s only a month since Town faced the Robins at home and McCarthy says that match, which ended 1-1, could have gone either way: “They played well, that could have been anybody’s game, as has been the case. I don’t think that there’s much between any of the teams mainly.
“There’s something that will happen in a game, maybe someone gets a bit of luck or there’s a bit of class or a good decision and the game opens up.
“That one was nip and tuck all the way through and I thought they played well. It was a different shape they played, 3-5-2 or 3-4-3, and it caused us problems as they’d never played it before.
“Since then they’ve got a new manager and they went back to 4-4-1-1 on Saturday at Leeds and actually they had the better chances in the game and then Leeds nicked it [1-0] late on.”
New City boss Sean O’Driscoll will be in charge of the Robins at home for the first time having been surprisingly sacked by Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day.
“I’ve met him at about six clubs this year already!” McCarthy joked. “He is a very quietly spoken, thoughtful football man. That’s just what he is.
“I thought he did really well at Doncaster, a really nice footballing team, and he inherited the Nottingham Forest job by being there as a coach under Steve Cotterill and I think they were a point off the play-offs when he got the sack. The game’s bonkers, don’t ask me anything about that.
“He’s got another good club, but he’s rock bottom at the minute, that’s a different set of circumstances.
“He set his team up to be hard to beat last week and they played well. I would imagine it’ll similar there - just don’t be too wide open and hope that they can take a chance. Circumstances dictate how you play when you inherit a team down the bottom of the league.”
The Town boss says his own side’s form since he took over at Portman Road illustrates that those struggling at the bottom of the table are no pushovers: “They’re a capable team and it’s been proven by us from being bottom of the league to where we are now.
“It’s been proven by Peterborough. They were bottom of the league and they went and beat Wolves, Bolton and Cardiff.
“Barnsley came here and played well last week and beat Leeds the week before. There’s no team yet that’s going to be written off and Bristol certainly aren’t.”
In terms of Town holding on to their own Championship status, McCarthy is confident that his squad is capable of doing so even without any further additions: “We’ll be all right because of the attitude of them, they’re fantastic. And I’m not saying that just for soundbites, that’s based on what they’ve achieved since November 1st.
“Since I’ve walked in here they’ve been terrific, the results that we’ve had, the points that we’ve taken, the manner in which we’ve played and we’ll be all right, providing we don’t get injuries or illness or suspensions.”
Robins boss O’Driscoll has been urged to get Ashton Gate bouncing in his first home game in charge: “I had a letter from one fan asking me to mention getting the ground bouncing in one of my press conferences.
“The letter alerted me to the fact [that former manager] Gary Johnson once did it and it generated a great atmosphere inside the stadium.
“Gary had great success at Bristol City and if I can emulate that in any way then it would be great. Perhaps asking fans to bounce is the secret!”
Winger Albert Adomah will miss out as he is away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana, having been the subject of a rebuffed £1 million bid from Crystal Palace this week. The Blues and other Championship and Premier League clubs are also believed to have been eyeing the 25-year-old.
Central defender Stephen McManus has returned to Middlesbrough at the end of his loan spell, while former Boro skipper and ex-Blues loanee Matthew Bates has been suffering with flu. Bates had been on a short-term contract with the Robins which was up last week but has been given additional time to persuade O'Driscoll he is worthy of a longer term deal.
Striker Sam Baldock could be back from a calf injury, while midfielder Paul Anderson is expected to be fine despite limping off during the second half of last week’s defeat at Leeds.
The Robins have signed right-back Brendan Moloney from Nottingham Forest.
Former Blue Jon Stead - who was signed by Town boss McCarthy when he was at Sunderland - joined the Robins in August 2010 for £225,000, while defender Matthew Bates played two games on loan at Portman Road from Middlesbrough – including a 3-1 derby victory over Norwich - in 2006 before suffering one of several cruciate knee ligament injuries.
Striker Steven Davies was one of former Blues boss Paul Jewell’s top targets last summer, while former West Ham frontman Sam Baldock was also understood to have been on the Liverpudlian’s wish-list at one point. Keeper Tom Heaton was also linked with the Blues during the close season before joining the Robins.
Town’s loanee right-back Bradley Orr made 229 starts and 26 substitute appearances for Bristol City, scoring 13 goals, between July 2004 and August 2010.
Assistant manager Terry Connor played for the Robins between 1991 and 1993, while Town U18s coach Russell Osman has been a player, manager, coach and academy coach with the West Country club and still has his main home in the area.
Historically, Town have the edge, winning 28 (26 in the league), losing 17 (17) and drawing 12 (12). The Blues are unbeaten in nine against the Robins.
In December at Portman Road, Tommy Smith’s second goal of the season saw Town to a scrappy 1-1 home draw against Bristol City at Portman Road.
The Robins had gone in front via Neil Danns in the 11th minute and might have been further in front before Smith equalised on 32, the Blues having a couple of chances to win it late on.
The teams met at Ashton Gate most recently on the opening day of last season when debutant Michael Chopra’s Town career got off to dream start as he netted twice in a 3-0 victory.
The former Cardiff man – who has scored seven in 11 against City for his various clubs – netted one in each half with Lee Martin sandwiching Town’s second after the break.
Saturday’s referee is Stephen Martin from Staffordshire, who will be taking control of a Championship game for the first time. Prior to this season, Martin, who has shown 44 yellow cards and one red in 17 games so far during 2012/13, had refereed only one Football League match.
Squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Orr, Hewitt, Cresswell, Mings, Kisnorbo, Chambers, Smith, N’Daw, Drury, Hyam, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy, Chopra, Mclean, McGoldrick, Nouble.
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