|Ipswich Town 4 v 0 Middlesbrough|
Saturday, 2nd February 2013 Kick-off 15:00
Manager McCarthy Only Doubt for Boro's Visit
Friday, 1st Feb 2013 14:23
Boss Mick McCarthy has emerged as the only doubt ahead of Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough at Portman Road. The Blues manager has missed most of the week due to a bug with his assistant Terry Connor taking today’s pre-match press conference.
Connor explained: “He came in on Tuesday, he wasn’t great on Monday, but he felt worse on Tuesday and hasn’t reported for work since.
“Today, he was desperate to come in but still didn’t feel able to come in, so he’s hoping that all the drugs and everything kick in by tomorrow and he’s able to do his stuff on a matchday.”
The Town assistant boss, who previously worked with McCarthy at Wolves, says there are no injury or illness concerns regarding the players: “Not at the moment, everyone’s trained again today, everyone’s OK again today. Hopefully, tomorrow morning we’ll wake up and everyone will be just the same.
“It’s been a bit heavy out on the pitches this week, so we’ve had to try and temper the training to make sure we don’t overdo it and leave too much on the training pitch. With a bit of luck, the gaffer will have everyone to select from for tomorrow.”
A hopefully-recovered McCarthy will probably recall returning loan keeper Stephen Henderson to his side, the Irishman having signed on loan from West Ham for a second time yesterday. The 24-year-old is due to remain at Portman Road until the end of the season, although the Hammers have insisted on a 24-hour recall clause.
Richard Stearman, who joined on loan from Wolves earlier in the week, is set to start at right-back with Bradley Orr having returned to Blackburn. Aaron Cresswell will be at left-back with Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers the centre-halves.
Despite the defeat, the Blues played reasonably well at Bristol City last week and McCarthy may well decide to keep things much the same with Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw remaining in the centre of midfield.
New signing Anthony Wordsworth will probably be on the bench having been out of action for three weeks while at Colchester having been suspended.
Skipper Carlos Edwards, who last week triggered an additional year at the club taking him up to 2014, will be on the right with Lee Martin likely to continue on the left.
Up front, David McGoldrick was amongst the Blues’ best performers at Ashton Gate and there were signs of a partnership developing with Daryl Murphy and McCarthy will probably stick with the duo.
Connor says everyone is aware of the way Middlesbrough play football under ex-Blue Tony Mowbray: “It’ll be a tough game. If you’ve followed Tony’s teams then you’ll know he has a good style of play and it will be difficult tomorrow.
“We’ll have to battle hard and do all the things that you have to do in the Championship but also be aware of footballing qualities as well. We’ve been preparing all week to face them and come tomorrow we’ll be ready to face them.”
Boro manager Mowbray has confirmed that his former Town team-mate Kieron Dyer will make his debut for the Teessiders at their old stomping ground: “We’ll be taking him to Ipswich with a view to him playing in the game.
“He’s looked really good in training, nice and sharp. The level he’s played his football at over the years suggests he’s very, very talented and he’s shown that on the training ground.”
The ex-Blues skipper says he was impressed with Dyer’s recent performances: “I’ve looked at the games he played for QPR this season. I watched him play against Manchester United, I watched him playing against Gareth Bale for Tottenham and he did well.
“We will have to see if the intensity of playing in this league catches up with him, playing 90 minutes after 90 minutes.
“Initially we’ll maybe see how he goes over an hour in a match and then see if we can build that up.
“But I’m happy he’s here and I’m looking forward to seeing him at Portman Road on Saturday.”
Dyer’s former Newcastle team-mate Jonathan Woodgate is over a calf problem and could return to the side, while frontman Scott McDonald is a doubt with a back injury. Striker Muzzy Carayol may travel having been out of action since September.
Striker Ishmael Miller is not yet full fit after suffering ankle ligament damage, full-back Justin Hoyte is out with a hip injury and Julio Arca is still sidelined after toe surgery. Midfielder Kevin Thomson’s contract has been settled.
Mowbray is a former Town skipper, coach and caretaker-manager. His assistant manager is Mark Venus, who was also part of George Burley’s Blues side. Ex-Town full-back and midfielder Jamie Clapham is Boro’s senior development coach, in charge of their U21s.
Former Blue Dyer signed for Boro on Thursday, having been released by QPR earlier in the month and having spent time training with the Blues recently, although largely with the academy.
Another ex-Town skipper Grant Leadbitter joined the Teessiders on a Bosman transfer in the summer after leaving Portman Road at the end of last season, while defender George Friend was the subject of a Blues offer when still at Doncaster in the close season but ultimately decided to join Boro. No current member of the Town squad has played for Saturday’s opponents.
The Blues have had the better of Middlesbrough over the years, winning 27 games (25 in the league), drawing 14 (14) and losing 17 (16).
Earlier this season, in September at the Riverside, Boro ran out 2-0 victors via goals from Luke Williams and Carayol.
Town had had the better of it until Williams struck in the 34th minute, Lee Martin and Paul Taylor both having forced Boro keeper Jason Steele into saves, but they didn’t seriously threaten again until the closing stages when Daryl Murphy, Michael Chopra and Taylor all went close. Sub Carayol cemented the home side’s win on the break in injury time.
Last time the sides met at Portman Road, in March, Leadbitter missed a penalty but then slammed in a stunning goal for Town as the game ended 1-1.
After a dull first half, the visitors went in front via sub Lukas Jutkiewicz, Boro keeper Jason Steele having saved Leadbitter’s penalty, but the midfielder hammered in an equaliser with 16 minutes remaining.
The match was the restaging of the February game which was abandoned after 37 minutes due to a frozen pitch.
Saturday’s referee is Craig Pawson from South Yorkshire, who has shown 65 yellow and three red cards in 22 matches so far this season. Pawson’s most recent Town match was last season’s 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Hull City – in which Aaron Mclean scored for the Tigers – when he booked Tommy Smith and one of the home players.
Squad from: Henderson, Loach, Stearman, Hewitt, Cresswell, Mings, Kisnorbo, Chambers, Smith, N’Daw, Drury, Hyam, Wordsworth, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy, Chopra, Mclean, McGoldrick, Nouble.
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