|Ipswich Town 3 v 1 Birmingham City|
Saturday, 27th April 2013 Kick-off 15:00
Hewitt in for Stearman Against Birmingham
Friday, 26th Apr 2013 14:55
Mick McCarthy looks set to make one enforced change for Saturday’s final home game of the season against Birmingham City with Richard Stearman expected to miss out with the hamstring injury he suffered at Sheffield Wednesday. Elliott Hewitt, 18, is set to come in at right-back for his third start for the Blues.
McCarthy says Stearman claimed he was fit at Friday training but wasn’t sure how serious the on-loan Wolves man was being: “He went out today saying that he’s all right, but I think that was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. We’ll see tomorrow, but he’s doubtful, he’s unlikely to play and Elliott Hewitt will play instead."
Aside from Stearman’s grade one hamstring strain, the Blues boss reported no other new injuries: “Everyone else is OK. We had 20 training today, everybody’s fine.”
McCarthy says that with Town still having a mathematical chance of going down – although it would take a remarkable set of scorelines over the next two weekends for it to happen – he’ll name his strongest squad, meaning that there will be no place for youngsters such as striker Jack Marriott amongst the subs.
Aside from Hewitt coming in for Stearman, Town are likely to be unchanged with Scott Loach in goal, Aaron Cresswell at left-back and Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers at the heart of the defence.
In midfield, Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw will be in the centre with skipper Carlos Edwards on the right and Jay Tabb on the left. Up front, Frank Nouble looks set to continue his partnership with Daryl Murphy.
Birmingham failed to make much of an impact on the promotion race this season and McCarthy says off-field issues won't have helped boss Lee Clark in his first season in charge: “It’s not been easy for Lee. He’s had all sorts of internal problems and it does affect the players.
“I’m not so sure it should but then when you’re having a tough time, it’s always a good excuse that it does affect you.
“Lee’s had to work under that and that’s difficult, and when they were having a tough time they were giving out to him. Well, I take my hat off to him, he’s got them in a good position.
“I watched them against Leicester two or three weeks ago and they were excellent. He’s got them playing some good football.”
Clark is waiting on the fitness of midfielder Morgaro Gomis (groin) and striker Wes Thomas (ankle): "Morgaro Gomis will train with us this morning and we’re hopeful that he will be OK.
"Wes Thomas picked up a bit of an ankle knock in training on Wednesday, so we’re just waiting a report back on him, but otherwise everything is as it was at Leeds. We’re hopeful on the two lads being available."
The Midlanders, who beat Leeds 1-0 to confirm their Championship status last week, will be without long-term absentees Jonathan Spector (ankle), Keith Fahey (hip), Marlon King, Stephen Carr, David Murphy (all knee) and Will Packwood (broken leg).
In November, the Mick McCarthy era got off to a winning start at St Andrew’s as DJ Campbell’s third goal in five games saw Town to a 1-0 victory over his old club.
Town were the better side in the first half and were worthy of their lead at the break, but the home side came into it more in a second period in which sub Nikola Zigic failed to take two good chances.
Last time at Portman Road, in April last year, second-half sub Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored his seventh goal of 2012/13 as the sides drew 1-1.
The visitors went in front against the run of play in first half injury time via Chris Burke, Emmanuel-Thomas equalising in a second period completely dominated by the Blues.
Historically, the Blues have had the better of Birmingham, winning 31 times (28 in the league), drawing 12 (12) and losing 27 (21). The visitors are currently 10th in the Championship on 60 points, four places and three points above Town.
Blues midfielder Guirane N’Daw was on loan with Birmingham last season, making 25 starts and four sub appearances.
Former Town man Darren Ambrose, who came through the ranks of the Town academy and later had a loan spell back at Portman Road while a Charlton player, joined Birmingham from Crystal Palace in the summer but has featured only once, as an 87th minute sub, since November.
From 1.30pm there will be various family orientated stalls and activities on the practice pitch, while adult prices start from £20. Junior Blues can gain admission for free while other under-16s can watch the match for £1.
After the match the players, who have all paid for their children to be the day’s mascots, will complete what skipper Carlos Edwards has referred to as “a lap of appreciation” to fans.
Saturday’s referee is Graham Salisbury from Lancashire, who has shown 125 yellow cards and five red in 40 games so far this season. Salisbury’s most recent Town match was the 4-1 defeat at Millwall in October 2011 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Hewitt, Cresswell, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Kisnorbo, R Brown, N’Daw, Drury, Hyam, Wordsworth, Tabb, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Murphy, Nouble, Chopra, Mclean.
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