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Smith Set for Start Against Doncaster
Smith Set for Start Against Doncaster
Friday, 16th Apr 2010 14:44

World Cup hopeful Tommy Smith looks set to come into Roy Keane’s Town side for Saturday’s home game with Doncaster Rovers. Smith will replace Damien Delaney, who is out for three months with the ankle ligament injury he sustained at Nottingham Forest last week.

Smith will want to get a run of games under his belt ahead of this summer’s World Cup with New Zealand and Delaney’s injury has unexpectedly given him the chance to get to full match fitness prior to the All Whites’ preparations for South Africa.

The 20-year-old is expected to join Gareth McAuley at the heart of the Town defence on Saturday and probably at Newcastle next week and at home to Sheffield United on the final day of the season.

Manager Roy Keane will also be without striker David Healy, who has a knee injury and will be out for a week, and midfielder Carlos Edwards, who has chicken pox.

The Blues boss - who will be managing a side for the 150th time in his 50th game with the Blues - says a few of the club’s younger players will come into the reckoning in their absence: “Some of the young boys who have trained with us this week have trained very, very well.

“They have come into the squad and have provided an energy that we might have lacked before.

“Young Tom Eastman has been involved for a while, Troy Brown’s trained with us, young Luke Hyam. All these boys might get an opportunity because of the way things have panned out. As much as I was hoping for them to get involved, it’s been forced a bit with the injuries and illness.

“It’s good to have them in the group, these are the types of players we want in the reserves next year because we want some young hungry players in our reserve group, so if they are called upon, like Shane O’Connor and Connor Wickham [this season], they’re ready.”

Keane admits that last week’s 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest again showed that his side has a fair way to go to be up with the division’s best: “We came up a bit short last week against Forest, particularly in the second half.

“I think the first goal was vital and we didn’t get it. They picked us off after that and you could see why they are a top six side and we aren’t. They looked a bit stronger, but we were on the back of a couple of tough games and maybe just came up a little bit short.

“We’re looking to bounce back. Our home form has been pretty decent and we want to give the fans something to shout about before we go into the summer.”

The game at Doncaster earlier in the season ended 3-3 with the home side netting a late equaliser to prevent the Blues from ending their winless streak. Keane says it was a display typical of that stage of the season: “There were too many goals really. We gave some bad goals away that day which was something we were doing a lot at the time - giving bad goals away and not holding on to leads.

“I think we’ve improved since then and we’re looking forward to the game. Again, we’re learning a lot about the players, we learnt a lot again in the second half last week about where we’re at and where we’re short.

“It reminded us of the hard work we have ahead. It’s going to be a long, tough summer to try and get the club in better shape for a better season next year.”

The Town manager dismissed suggestions that there is nothing left to play for in the final weeks: “It makes me laugh when people say there’s nothing at stake, we might as well cancel the game if there’s nothing at stake.

“We’ll have 20-odd thousand supporters in the ground, we’ll have players wanting to cement their place at the club for next year, players looking for contracts and me finding out about my team. It’s another game to find out where we’re at. There’s always something at stake and pride should always be number one anyway.”

Either side of Smith and McAuley in the Town defence, Shane O’Connor is likely to continue on the left with David Wright perhaps returning at right-back in place of Jaime Peters with both of them currently ahead of Liam Rosenior in the pecking order. Tom Eastman and Troy Brown may well make their first team debuts at centre-half, or right-back in Brown’s case, as a sub at some stage.

Brian Murphy will be in goal unless he has been too badly affected by his trip back from Ireland via land and sea, with Arran Lee-Barrett on the bench ahead of Richard Wright.

In midfield, Grant Leadbitter and David Norris have become a fixture in the centre, with skipper Jon Walters probably on the right and Jack Colback on the left, although Keane may consider giving a run out to Lee Martin or Owen Garvan given that the Sunderland loanee won’t be at the club next season. Luke Hyam may be amongst those on the bench.

Up front, Connor Wickham again impressed his manager at Forest and the Blues boss may again want to take a look at the 17-year-old playing alongside Daryl Murphy, who Town look likely to try to sign on a permanent basis in the summer. Pablo Couñago will hope that Keane decides otherwise and includes him in his starting line-up.

Doncaster – who have an away record of won six, drawn six and lost nine - sit one place and one point above the Blues in 12th position which boss Sean O’Driscoll says this is an accomplishment: "Somebody said to me that we are side-by-side in the league and I suppose that is an achievement, in some senses, because Ipswich Town are a well-established club.

"Over the years they have been well run and we are now neck-and-neck, so from that point of view - in our second season in the Championship - to be batting at the same level as an Ipswich Town team, we can give ourselves a pat on the back for that.

"I saw Ipswich Town in their second game of the season and you thought - with what they had on the day - they would be contenders; it's just not quite happened. There has appeared to be quite a big turnaround in staff and players and, again, you need stability to create anything.

“Credit to them, they have come through quite a difficult time for them with what they have got and you can see them building for next season. If Roy sticks with the players that he feels can get them out of that division, again you wouldn't bet against them being one of the teams next season with a great chance of getting back into the Premier League.

"On paper, they have some really good players and are as strong as anybody. Roy has been able to get into the transfer market and use loan signings and the people that he had at Sunderland have played a big part."

O’Driscoll will have midfielder James Coppinger back in his side after an ankle problem, but skipper Brian Stock is expected to miss out as he’s not yet ready to return after calf and back problems.

Midfielder Martin Woods is out for the rest of the season as he’s set for groin surgery, while striker James Hayter is expected to be fine despite injuring his arm when he collided with a goalpost in the 3-2 home defeat to West Brom last week.

Back in September, Roy Keane’s former Manchester United team-mate Quinton Fortune – who left Rovers in February - netted a late equaliser for Doncaster in a 3-3 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium. Earlier, the home side had gone ahead twice via Waide Fairhurst and Martin Woods with the Blues hitting back and getting in front through Jack Colback, Tamás Priskin and Lee Martin.

Last season’s doubling of the Blues means that Rovers have the edge on Town in the few meetings between the teams over the years, having won three (one of those the only cup tie involving the clubs), drawn three and lost two. The Blues’ last victory against Rovers was a 2-0 home win in December 1957.

In 2008/09, a goal from Shelton Martis, who was on loan from West Brom, gave Doncaster a 1-0 win in Town’s first ever game at the Keepmoat Stadium, while Gareth Roberts, Paul Heffernan and James Hayter were all on target for the visitors as they won 3-1 at Portman Road, Owen Garvan netting for the Blues.

No current Doncaster player has been with the Blues and no member of the Town squad has played for Rovers.

Plenty of Town stars of yesteryear will be at the game having been at tonight’s 31st Players’ Reunion Dinner. More than 76 ex-Blues are set to attend this evening’s gathering with many of them also at Saturday’s match.

Fans travelling to the game by road should again note that there are likely to be delays due to maintenance on the A14 around Sproughton.

Saturday’s referee is Andy Penn from West Yorkshire, who has shown 61 yellow and two red cards in 32 games so far this season. Penn’s last Town match was the 0-0 home draw with Barnsley in December 2007 in which he showed three yellow cards, all to Tykes.

Squad from: B Murphy, Lee-Barrett, D Wright, Peters, Rosenior, O’Connor, McAuley, Smith, Eastman, Brown, Leadbitter, Norris, Walters, Colback, Garvan, Martin, Hyam, D Murphy, Wickham, Couñago.

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Billy_Whizz added 14:48 - Apr 16
By hook or by crook it was a certainty there'd be changes for this game!
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Gary added 14:56 - Apr 16
lets hope one of the kids emerges with some real potential
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Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 14:57 - Apr 16
Thank God we didn't lose Delaney earlier in the season. Smith will do a good job, though. Could have been in serious trouble if we had lost a couple of key defenders before we became safe!
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bedsitfc added 15:13 - Apr 16
lets hope we are 3- 0 up at half time then we can put the more young guns on
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robomcbobo added 16:43 - Apr 16
Hope we lose 6-0 and Keane gets the boot..
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depressed added 16:48 - Apr 16
^^^^^^^^^
= Pillock !!
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Surco72 added 16:48 - Apr 16
No point playing Colback anymore ,he wont be here next year we wont get relegated lets try other options rather than the dire work hard midfield of Walters ,Norris,Leadbitter and Colback that hasnt really shone in any game when played together as a unit just some one off performances
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Mark added 17:02 - Apr 16
Let's drop all the loanees and give the youngsters a chance. What is the point of playing Colback and Murphy when we can't afford them, especially as if they play well and score goals it will increase their values?!

Perhaps we should even give Lee Martin a final try? If he flops yet again, sell him in the summer (if anyone will take him).
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tom_the_blue added 17:09 - Apr 16
robomcbobo you don't support Ipswich go away
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james1989 added 17:16 - Apr 16
robomcbobo

you are a wan*er, why would you want us to lose and why would you want keane out!!
some people these days
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jas0999 added 17:53 - Apr 16
Deary me - people hoping the club they apparently support lose. Enough said.

I do agree Surco though - although Colback is an excellent player, we know he won't be with us next season. We are safe, so I'd try a different option. One last chance for Garvan?

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Mungo added 20:03 - Apr 16
Robomcbobo - A pointless and unhelpful comment. I'm not RK's biggest fan but I certainly don't want the team to lose. That sort of comment just makes you look ridiculous.

I would be happy to see some of the younger ones given a decent game. This is a typical 'end of season' nothing game and we might as well give some of the youngsters a taste. They will benefit from it and there is little point playing senior players who aren't going to be here next year.

I wouldn't necessarily drop Colback. He has been a great player this year and deserves to play games (that is what he came here for). Depending on the terms of the loan agreement, we may well have to pay more for him if he doesn't play and playing him can only encourage him to come back next year (if at all possible, please let it be so!)

Give Garvan one last chance? Not in my opinion. RK's mind (and Garvan's) will be made up by now, and a player should not be judged on one game (particularly a such as this). I'm not necessarily advocating that it is time for him to go (he does give us a different option) but one meaningless game shouldn't decide his future.

Looking forward to an eventful summer, some strategic signings and a much improved season next year!
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Mark added 20:16 - Apr 16
I agree that Keane's mind is made up on Garvan. For me, it is a real shame if Owen leaves. He is still only 22, has about 160 appearances for Ipswich, and I think he is our most creative midfielder on his day - and there is lots of room for improvement there. I know he has little pace, but I will nonetheless be disappointed to see him leave (no doubt for a pittance) over the summer.
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WadzillaBhoy added 20:57 - Apr 16
robomcbobo - seriously wtf! You are a town fan and you want us to lose? Jokes on you even if we lose 6-0 Keano is staying. Keano Keano's Barmy Army

COYB
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SonOfSpock added 21:50 - Apr 16
Can't see the benefit of playing Colback any more despite his efforts this season and I would say the same for all the other loanees.

Lets get some more youngsters blooded and see how they fair til the end of the season - I can see them being more involved next season as some fat is trimmed from the squad in the summer.
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robomcbobo added 22:14 - Apr 16
Yes, been a Town fan for 30 years and never been so embarrassed. We have always had a tradition for fair play, good fans and being a club run by gentlemen (i.e cobbold etc). Keane is an arrogant egotistical idiot who has no affinity or love for the club. Remember that this is the same a*sehole who tried to delibirately destroy another player's career. If losing 6-0 is what it takes to get rid of him, then yes, sorry, but I would consider the bad taste of the medicine worthy of the cure. My biggest fear is that we win the last few games and he keeps his job, so we spend another season being a bit part in his twisted biography!!
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pottyblue added 22:16 - Apr 16
bye bye richard wright, like all the other posters try out the young lads especially if any have a left foot ,no more square pegs in round holes please
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tom_the_blue added 22:29 - Apr 16
robomcbobo-shut up. You talk absolute rubbish and are not a town fan. How can you want your team to lose? Are you saying you hate Keane more than you love town? And most of what you say about Keane is complete rubbish. Arrogant? Back that up please if you can in any way. No love for the club? Well, yes, everyone who has never played for the club and didn't have any link with the club should love the medium sized championship club that we are at the moment before joining us. Keano give nothing away in terms of passion and drive to succeed with this club, and even if he does I'm sure morons like you will still have a go at him.
You are not a town FAN, you want us to lose. Your feelings are more accosiated with that of Norwich fans which I'm sure you, and several others on this site, are.
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robomcbobo added 22:43 - Apr 16
Hey Tom, less of the abuse! I'm allowed to express an opinion!and am not a f**king budgie!. Why would I love Keane blindly?- he walked out in his country remember, and he will walk away from Town- just after he grows a stupid beard- trust me! The club will still be here long after he is bouncing around in a padded cell!.. examples of arrogance- here's some examples!- http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2006/aug/24/sport.comment

I'd rather be in League 1 with Dave Basset than the Premiership with Keane!





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robomcbobo added 22:48 - Apr 16
and don't get me started on Jonathan Ross!
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fluffy_wool added 23:09 - Apr 16
I just think that robomcombo's was stupid. By far colback has been our best player this season and d.murphy hasn't done to bad since he arrived but let's face it i don't think we will be able to buy them this summer so why don't we play more of the fringe players who yet haven't proven why they are worthy of a place at town. I say either garvan or hyam instead of colback and pablo with wickham. Also now that we know the defence partnership for next season (d.wright mcauley delaney and o'connor) why don't we play the likes of Eastman and smith together. I also agree about the comment another person said about how murphy will be involved in some incident and knowing our luck a sending off. I would then say back to a full strength side next week against Newcastle to see wether we can beat the leaders. I am predicting 3-2 scoreline tomorrow with wickham, hyam and Norris getting the goals. What's the point of trying out martin we all know that he is a useless waste of space on the pitch and when he plays it's like playing with ten men. Come on you blues. Keane to stay next season and get us promoted.
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Mungo added 02:16 - Apr 17
Robomcbobo - Dave Basset? Really? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and chalk that one up to alcohol!

In much the same way that decisions will have been made on certain players, I suspect that ME will have made a decision on Keane by now - that he will either be leaving as soon as an appropriate replacement can be found or that he will be staying for the time being (at least until we are a few games into next season). Time will tell...
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brogansnose added 07:32 - Apr 17
I would be more than happy to see some of the young guns given a taster of first team football and it makes sense to do this when there realy isnt anything to play for. Certainly some of the regulars have appeared to be a bit jaded lately. It would be nice though for us to put up more of a fight than last season when we were given a lesson in ' Town ' football.
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tom_the_blue added 08:51 - Apr 17
robomcbobo

I repeat, you are not a town fan, you want the team to fail.
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brockleyblueboy added 09:22 - Apr 17
Robomcbobo - You are welcome to your opinion but your argument doesn't make any sense what so ever. I wanted to write more but I am flabergasted you are a complete plank and you non-sensical "opinion" is not one for this web site. I am lost for words....I...what..... I'm off to the pub (18:22 here is Sydney, don't think I am an alcoholic)
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