Jewell Waiting on Internationals Ahead of Barnsley Trip
Friday, 11th Feb 2011 12:05
Blues boss Paul Jewell was still waiting to hear whether all his international players had come through their games unscathed at Thursday’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Barnsley. Linchpin defender Gareth McAuley, Darren O’Dea and Connor Wickham were back and OK, but Hungarian pair Tamás Priskin and Márton Fülöp, and Canadian Jaime Peters had not yet returned to Portman Road.
Jewell says club bosses are always concerned when their players are away: “International weeks are the worst weeks for a manager because your players are away and some of your players aren’t back until later this afternoon [Thursday] and some of them aren’t back until tomorrow. There’s always the fear of getting some bad news about someone getting injured.
"As far as training’s gone, it’s been an average week. Hopefully they’ll all be back tomorrow and be ready for Barnsley.”
McAuley was fine, if tired, having played the full 90 minutes for Northern Ireland and Wickham had returned after coming through an hour for the England U19s unscathed, while Darren O’Dea was involved for only five minutes for the Republic of Ireland.
Jewell was still waiting to hear whether Priskin and Fülöp, who each played a half for Hungary in their victory over Azerbaijan in Dubai, and Peters, who played a full 90 for Canada at right-back as they lost 1-0 in Greece, were fine after their matches.
Troy Brown (Wales U21s), Josh Carson (Northern Ireland U21s), Conor Hourihane and Ian McLoughlin (both Republic of Ireland U21s) were also away this week but are unlikely to feature in the first team squad.
Despite the Blues winning their last three league games, manager Jewell wants to avoid any complacency: “There’s an awful lot to improve on, the first half [last week] wasn’t very good. What pleased me about the game on Saturday was that when the conditions are horrible and it's windy and bobbly like that, you just don’t want to lose.
“We weren’t great in the first half, in the second half you could see the confidence and at times we played some really good stuff.
“But it’s all about building blocks, slowly trying to build for the future. Winning games breeds confidence and when you’re winning matches, you look forward to the next one.
“We’re looking forward to the game on Saturday, but we’re not kidding ourselves, there’s still an awful lot of work to be done, however, the players are working hard.”
The Blues boss says he expects a typically tight Championship contest played on what he says is a less than pristine Oakwell surface: “Their home form is very, very good. I was watching a DVD yesterday and their pitch is like the old Baseball Ground.
“It’ll be tough, they’ve had some fine results this year and Mark Robins has done a terrific job. It’s always a place that’s hard to go, like everywhere in the Championship. We won’t approach this game any differently to any we’ve approached so far.”
Márton Fülöp looks set to continue in goal, unless he suffers a recurrence of the back stiffness which kept him out of the trip to Watford earlier in the season after returning from international duty. Fülöp subsequently said he believed that the club’s medical staff had got to the root of the problem and the Hungarian is likely to be OK. Arran Lee-Barrett was rested for the reserve game in midweek just in case.
Jewell probably won't want to make any changes at all if everyone is fit. McAuley and Damien Delaney will continue at centre-half with Carlos Edwards in a right-back role he says he’s enjoying, despite its unfamiliarity. Mark Kennedy will continue on the left.
In midfield, the Blues boss is likely to stick with the central three of skipper David Norris just ahead of Grant Leadbitter and Jimmy Bullard, with Connor Wickham on the left and Lee Martin on the right but swapping flanks periodically. Tamás Priskin will continue up front unless he suffered a knock while with in Dubai.
Swansea target Jason Scotland is likely to be on the bench unless he is required to replace Priskin, while fellow frontman Ronan Murray is a doubt having pulled a thigh muscle after scoring twice for the reserves in the 3-0 win at Oxford on Wednesday.
Shane O’Connor is missing due to his appendicitis, while Brian Murphy is out of plaster after breaking his ankle at Christmas and could be back in action in around six weeks.
Midfielder Alan Quinn underwent his second groin operation of the season a week ago which Jewell says went as planned.
Town have travelled to Barnsley today by coach and will return on Saturday night before flying back up north on Monday for Tuesday's match at Doncaster.
Barnsley, one place and three points ahead of the Blues in 13th having played two games more and with a significantly worse goal difference, are likely to have central-half Stephen Foster back after a gashed shin, but defenders Jay McEveley and Luke Potter aren’t ready to return having been sidelined with medial knee ligament injuries. Star man Adam Hammill left for Wolves during the transfer window.
Tykes manager Mark Robins didn’t feel his team was actually particularly bad at Leicester last week, despite losing 4-1: "I think we played well on Saturday. It's difficult to say that on the back of the scoreline, but we did play well.
“We need to be less shot shy, less naïve, but that's difficult because we have a very young team. It's exciting to watch, sometimes frustrating and sometimes your hearts in your mouth, but it's looking good.
"It's a work in progress. We have young kids who are not necessarily ready yet but we have to put them in there. That's not a bad thing because we can bring them through and see if they can be good enough over a period of time.”
The ex-Canary says his Town counterpart has reinvigorated the Blues since taking over at Portman Road last month: "Paul Jewell has gone into Ipswich and given the players renewed confidence and self-belief.
“They have had a good run of results in the league and will come here in a more confident mood than when we have seen them before.
“It’s another tough game for us, but we played really well when we played Ipswich earlier in the season. It was a good performance at Portman Road. We’ve got 16 games left this season and I really want us to kick on and have a real go at teams.”
Historically, Town have done well against the South Yorkshiremen, winning 19 games between the sides (18 in the league), drawing four (four) and losing 13 (11).
The Blues, who have won three Championship matches on the trot, last won four league games in a row in October and November 2004 - Preston (H), Sheffield United (H), Burnley (A) and Leeds (H).
In November, Barnsley left Portman Road with a comfortable 3-1 victory. The Tykes were 2-0 in front at the break through Goran Lovre and a Márton Fülöp own goal with an angry home support olé-ing Barnsley’s passing. Soon after the restart Garry O’Connor made it three before Tommy Smith pulled a late goal back for the Blues.
At Oakwell last year, former Town loanee Jon Macken’s final minute goal gave Barnsley a 2-1 victory over the Blues, who still hadn’t won a league game at that point in the season.
The Tykes had gone ahead in the first half through Iain Hume, who later smashed a penalty against the bar, Liam Rosenior equalising for the Blues just before the break.
The most famous meeting between the teams came in May 2000 at Wembley when Town won the play-off final 4-2 to reach the Premier League.
Former Blue Danny Haynes joined the Tykes from Bristol City in January and has already scored three goals in five games for his new club. For Town, derby specialist Haynes netted 19 goals in 43 starts and 85 games as a substitute.
Defender Jay McEveley was on loan with Town in the 2005/06 season, scoring one goal in 17 starts and two sub appearances, while Blues midfielder Colin Healy spent 2006/07 at Oakwell but made only two starts and eight appearances from the bench during an injury-hit spell.
Saturday’s referee is Darren Drysdale from Lincolnshire, who has shown 24 yellow cards and one red so far this season. Coincidentally, Drysdale’s most recent Town match was the 4-1 defeat at Barnsley in March 2008.
Squad from: Fülöp, Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Kennedy, McAuley, Delaney, O’Dea, Smith, Norris, Bullard, Leadbitter, Martin, Wickham, Healy, Civelli, Peters, Drury, Priskin, Scotland, Murray.
Photo: Action Images
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