Jewell: Town Can't Feel Sorry for Themselves at Birmingham
Wednesday, 11th Jan 2012 11:37
Ipswich boss Paul Jewell says he and his players can’t afford to go into games feeling sorry for themselves, despite sitting in 20th place in the Championship and on a run which has seen them win only two of their last 13 matches. The Blues, who are still waiting on defensive target Sean St Ledger,are in action at Birmingham tonight in a match rearranged from earlier in the season due to the Midlanders’ Europa League campaign (KO 7.45pm).
Jewell says he and his squad need to have an optimistic outlook if they are to turn things around: “It would be telling lies to say that we’re all doing cartwheels at the moment, we’re not, but if we go into games feeling sorry for ourselves and down on ourselves and negative, we’ll lose.
“We’ve got to try and remain positive and upbeat, it’s not easy, but that’s the way life is, never mind football, there are plenty of ups and downs in life. We’ve all had ups and downs in life and it’s how you bounce back from the lows which make you the person that you are.”
Saturday’s 3-1 FA Cup loss at Hull City left the Blues boss bemoaning more calamitous defending: “We gave the third away with the last kick of the game, but the first two goals we conceded were very poor goals.
“We showed character in the second half and had two good opportunities to equalise but – and I say this every week – we have to stop giving these goals away.
“I’ve never known a season like it where at every half-time team-talk we’re always two or three goals down.”
Jewell is facing selection decisions with Lee Bowyer (groin), Damien Delaney (foot) and Jimmy Bullard (ill) all sidelined, Ívar Ingimarsson’s contract ripped up and Keith Andrews returned to Blackburn, while Andy Drury is available again having been cup-tied and keeper Alex McCarthy has been added on loan from Reading.
Josh Carson, Luke Hyam and Tommy Smith were involved at Hull and all three are likely to be in the 16: “Josh has been in and around the team for most of the season. Luke and Tommy came in in a difficult situation where they haven’t played a lot of first team football.
“I thought Luke did OK and Tommy was steady. It’s not an ideal preparation with illness and injury stretching us at the moment.”
Asked whether the next two games are key to his future, he says it’s a case of approaching each match on its own terms: “We’ve just got to take each game on its own merits. We’ve got a tough game tomorrow and after that we’ll have another tough game on Saturday.”
Jewell has confirmed that new keeper Alex McCarthy will replace Arran Lee-Barrett in goal with Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Edwards unlikely to be moved from their full-back roles.
At the centre of the defence, it seems likely that Tommy Smith will start alongside Ibrahima Sonko. Talks regarding Sean St Ledger’s loan-with-a-view-to-a-permanent-deal recruitment are understood to be still ongoing - almost certainly with other clubs as well as Town - with the Irishman needing to be signed by 4.45pm this evening to be available for tonight’s match.
However, even if he does put pen to paper in time, with the Leicester centre-half yet to train with the squad, he may be only be included on the bench.
In midfield, Jewell is likely to stick with skipper Grant Leadbitter in the centre and Daryl Murphy on the left but needs to decide whether to recall Andy Drury in place of Hyam in the other central role and whether to bring back Lee Martin instead of Josh Carson on the right.
The Town boss will probably go with experience in both cases with Hyam and Carson likely to be on the bench.
Up front, with Jewell feeling that Michael Chopra is short of confidence, Jason Scotland will partner Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton says his team are going into significant period of the season: “If you took the season in blocks of months, the next month is always the most important one.
“If we have a strong month results-wise it puts us in a great position, if we don’t then we’ve got the next month to make up for that.
"There is always that possibility to finish strong in this division. We have seen teams before who have picked up a series of results, notably Blackpool and Burnley, in the past.
“But, of course, if you are in a good position with still a fair amount of time to go then it’s about sustaining and maintaining that position.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any more pressure than usual on us. There is still so much football to play when you think we are only halfway through a season. It seems more, but we’re only halfway through.”
Birmingham captain Stephen Carr is out with a knee problem, while central defender Pablo Ibanez, one of the many centre-halves targeted by Town in the summer, is a big doubt, also with a knee problem.
Defender Liam Ridgewell is over a back spasm and winger Chris Burke returns to the squad after the recent birth of his son.
Loanee midfielder Guirane N'Daw is with Senegal's squad for the African Cup of Nations, while striker Chris Wood, a team-mate of Tommy Smith with New Zealand, has returned to West Brom after his loan ended.
Tonight’s game is the first time the sides have met since Boxing Day 2008 when a James McFadden penalty eight minutes before half-time condemned Town to their second successive home defeat as Birmingham left Portman Road with a 1-0 victory. The spotkick had been awarded for handball by Moritz Volz.
Earlier in the season at St Andrew’s, goals from Liam Ridgewell and Kevin Phillips gave the Midlanders a 2-1 victory over Town, Alex Bruce netting a late goal against his former club.
Historically, the Blues have had the better of Birmingham, winning 30 times (27 in the league), drawing 11 (11) and losing 26 (20). The Midlanders are in 14th in the Championship, six places and seven points ahead of the Blues, having played a game more. Chris Hughton’s men are the only side still undefeated at home in the Championship.
Town midfielder Lee Bowyer, who won't be involved against his old club, spent 18 months with Birmingham, initially on loan before signing on a free transfer from West Ham, prior to joining the Blues in the summer. Other than Bowyer, no one currently in either squad has represented this evening's opposition.
Tonight’s referee is Rob Lewis from Shrewsbury, who has shown 44 yellow cards and three reds in 14 games so far this season. Lewis hasn’t refereed a Town game since March 2007 when he took control of the Blues’ 2-1 home victory over QPR in which he booked Dan Harding and two visiting players.
Squad from: McCarthy, Lee-Barrett, Wright, Edwards, Cresswell, Sonko, Smith, Ainsley, Leadbitter, Drury, Hyam, Murphy, Martin, Carson, Scotland, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra, Ellington.
Photo: Action Images
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