|Ipswich Town 3 v 0 Leeds United|
Saturday, 30th March 2013 Kick-off 15:00
McCarthy: Squad Looking Sharp and Focused
Friday, 29th Mar 2013 06:00
Manager Mick McCarthy says his squad look “sharp and focused” as they go into the first fixture of the Easter period, Saturday’s home game against Leeds United, the club he supported as a boy.
The Blues boss has been pleased with the work on the training field but says he won’t know whether the two-week break since the 1-0 victory over Bolton has done them good until after the matches: “Who knows? We’ve got to go and play the games.
“If we win two, it’s been a great time, if we win one and draw one. If we draw them both, if we lose one, everybody will say ‘Should you have done this or that’.
“We’ve prepared properly. We’ve trained Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which was terrific, they looked sharp and all focused. You can’t do any more than that. Let the games commence!”
McCarthy is pleased that while loanee Patrick Kisnorbo is unavailable against Leeds, his parent club, and Lee Martin has one game of his suspension remaining, Frank Nouble is back from his hamstring strain, Anthony Wordsworth is training after his back problem and Elliott Hewitt is over his hip injury, meaning that striker Paul Taylor (foot) is the only player currently sidelined with a knock.
“What’s nice is that we’ve got 21 outfield players who can all play because Saturday-Monday is a big ask to play,” McCarthy said.
“[Monday’s opponents] Millwall are playing on Friday night and they get an extra day’s rest, and it does make a difference.
“It’s good that I’ve got everybody fit, Frank fit, Woody fit, and I’ve got options if I want to change it.”
McCarthy was delighted and relieved to win the Bolton game prior to the break: “It was great and I was pleased, it was a big, big win.
"And when we came off and saw the other results, then you knew how big a win it was, everybody else around us won just about. I was delighted and I hope I’ve got similar feelings on Saturday.
“The lads have worked very hard,” he added. “Every week we get the stats back and we’ve outworked every team we’ve played against.
“It doesn’t make you a great football team, but it makes you hard to beat, it makes you consistent at least in terms of the level of performances, which I think we’ve produced.”
Since the Bolton game Blackburn have changed manager yet again and McCarthy would be happy to see further disruption at any of the other clubs battling for survival: “I sincerely hope that anybody that has got problems they’re multiplied and it helps our cause.
“I want to stay up. I’m not interested in anybody else, I just want Ipswich to stay in the league and it’s not cut and dried yet.”
McCarthy was a Leeds fan growing up but he insists that these days he only has eyes for one club: “Describing me as a big Leeds United fan now would be a little bit short of the truth. I’m an Ipswich fan.
“I don’t give a flying fart about any others, none of them that I’ve played for, I managed, none of them. If I’m playing against them, my loyalties are with the team I’m playing for or I’m managing.
“I was a big fan back in 1967 when I was eight and nine, in 1969 when they won the league and all that, that great Leeds team.”
As regards the Whites' prospects this season, he feels they still have an outside chance of extending their season: “They’ve flirted with the play-offs, at one stage of the season they were right up in the top six, but then they fell way and were down near us for a spell.
“When they beat us at Elland Road it elevated them somewhat and they had a good run then. It’s this league, I don’t know. It’s a grind and certainly with Neil Warnock, they’ll just grind results out.
“I guess he’ll see it that if they come here and win they could be back on the tail of the play-offs. But we’re looking at it for something different, we want to try and ensure our safety and three points would help.”
The Blues boss has confirmed that he’ll start with Scott Loach in goal, while the defence picks itself with Richard Stearman and Aaron Cresswell the full-backs and Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers the centre-halves.
In midfield, McCarthy has decisions to make with Anthony Wordsworth having impressed him in training and Guirane N’Daw back in the frame. Andy Drury and Luke Hyam took up the central roles against Bolton and the Blues boss may stick with those two against Leeds and perhaps look at changes at Millwall. Jay Tabb and skipper Carlos Edwards are again likely to be in the wide roles.
The Town boss also has options up front. Either he could stick with the David McGoldrick-Daryl Murphy partnership from the Bolton game or he could recall Frank Nouble – probably alongside McGoldrick – the January signing from Wolves having impressed at Peterborough prior to his injury.
Leeds manager Neil Warnock says his team will continue to fight for a play-off place while they still have a chance. The Whites are currently in 10th on 52 points, seven off the top six.
“We’ve got to throw ourselves into every game and see what happens,” he said. “I’ve told the players that no one should be giving up. All we can do is aim for one big push.
“We’re relatively injury free and we’ve got eight games to go. I don’t want anyone thinking they can slacken off. Promotion’s highly unlikely but while there’s a chance, we’ll keep on going.”
Strikers Ross McCormack and Steve Morison are back in training after head and calf injuries respectively with the former appearing more likely to start than the ex-Norwich frontman.
Midfielder Rodolph Austin has been on international duty with Jamaica and is not expected back until today and may be rested. Leigh Bromby and Davide Somma (both knee) are long-term absentees.
Historically, Leeds have the superior record in the fixture, winning 28 (27 in the league) clashes between the teams. Town have been victorious on 23 (18) occasions and 19 (16) games have ended in draws.
In December, goals from Jerome Thomas and Paul Green saw Leeds to a 2-0 win at Elland Road. The home side had the better of the first half with Thomas’s backheel giving them the lead at the break.
The Blues dominated possession for much of the second period but were unable to get on terms before Green added the second.
At Portman Road in August 2011, Jason Scotland and Keith Andrews scored the goals as Town came from behind to beat 10-man Leeds 2-1.
The visitors dominated the first half and went in front via Ross McCormack, but after the break Leeds had Aidan White sent off for pulling down Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Scotland and then Andrews’s deflected last-minute strike saw Town to the points.
On-loan defender Patrick Kisnorbo and new signing Jason Brown are the only members of the Blues squad to have played for Leeds, the latter on loan for a short spell in 2010, although assistant manager Terry Connor was with his hometown club between 1979 and 1983, scoring 22 goals in 108 games.
Fitness coach Andy Liddell is also from Leeds and supports the Whites, his father Gary having been a player at Elland Road.
Former Town skipper David Norris is the only man in the Leeds squad to have played for the Blues. Norris left Portman Road on a Bosman for Portsmouth in the summer of 2011 after making 114 starts and four sub appearances, scoring 16 goals. He joined Leeds last summer after Pompey’s relegation.
Saturday’s referee is James Adcock from Nottinghamshire, who has shown 78 yellow and four red cards in 29 games so far this season. He has never previously taken control of a Town match.
Squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Stearman, Hewitt, Cresswell, Mings, Chambers, Smith, R Brown, N’Daw, Drury, Hyam, Wordsworth, Tabb, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, McGoldrick, Murphy, Nouble, Chopra, Mclean.
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