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Town Set to Be Unchanged Against Middlesbrough
Town Set to Be Unchanged Against Middlesbrough
Saturday, 11th Feb 2012 08:55

Boss Paul Jewell looks set to name the same side for the third game running when the Blues take on Middlesbrough at Portman Road on Saturday. Two wins in two games have seen Town move 10 points clear of the relegation zone but while remaining in 19th in the table.

Jewell has been pleased not just with the victories and the six points but for the most part with the way his team has played: “It’s been a terrific two results for us and the performances, certainly against West Ham and for large parts against Coventry, were very good.

“But we’re not getting too excited or too carried away as there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us and a lot of improvement that we need to do. Just as we try to keep a lid on things when they aren’t going well, we’re just trying to get the balance right.”

The Blues manager admits that he wasn’t too disappointed to see Boro’s FA Cup fourth round replay at home to Sunderland went into extra-time, the Wearsiders eventually running out 2-1 winners: “We were watching the game and it was a tough game for them because it was a derby and there was a lot at stake.

“I thought they played exceptionally well at times, Middlesbrough, and they were a bit unlucky not to at least get a draw and take it to penalties. But I was sitting there delighted when they equalised.

“I think last year they came down and everyone expected them to go straight back up but it didn’t quite work for them.

“They had a strong finish for the season, from February onwards they had really good form. They took that into the start of the season and they’re going to be somewhere close at the end of the season.

“They’ve got a very decent defence, they’ve brought Lukas Jutkiewicz in from Coventry and paid a million for him and they’ve got Marvin Emnes up front, so they’re a threat. Like every game in this league, it’ll be difficult.”

He says former Town skipper, coach and caretaker-manager Tony Mowbray is not someone he is close to but is aware he has a lot of time for his old club: “I don’t know him very well. I played against him when he was at Middlesbrough, him and Gary Pallister. They had a good team and they went through a lot when the gates got locked at Ayresome Park and all that.

“He loves Ipswich Town. He used to live in the Dedham area and I spoke to him when they played here last year and he speaks very highly about the club. He’s a deep thinker about the game and he’s done really well at Middlesbrough this year.”

Arran Lee-Barrett looks set to keep his place in goal ahead of loanee Alex McCarthy with Carlos Edwards and Aaron Cresswell the full-backs and Tommy Smith and Ibrahima Sonko the centre-halves.

In central midfield, Luke Hyam and Andy Drury are likely to keep Jimmy Bullard and Grant Leadbitter on the bench with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on the right and Daryl Murphy on the left. Lee Bowyer is back in training after his groin injury and is around a week away from being considered for selection. Recent signing Ryan Stevenson is probably not ready for first team involvement at this stage despite featuring for the reserves in midweek.

Lee Martin will continue in his role behind lone striker Michael Chopra, who will be looking to continue his run of three goals in two games.

Belgian international midfielder Faris Haroun, who was linked with the Blues before joining Boro in the summer, hasn't travelled due to a hamstring problem, while Barry Robson has also stayed in the North-East due to a hand injury.

Keeper Danny Coyne misses out with a calf problem, midfielder Merouane Zemmama having undergone hernia surgery, ex-Charlton and Southend man Nicky Bailey due to a knee ligament problem and Australian striker Scott McDonald after suffering a medial ligament injury.

Teessiders boss Mowbray admits that he’s short on senior players due to those injuries with youngsters such as striker Andy Halliday, 20, midfielder Adam Reach, 18, and another frontman Curtis Main, 19, all drafted into the squad: "We're getting close to having a strong group to choose from but at this moment we're still a little bit stretched and you'll see by the team there will be one or two surprises, one or two omissions that you maybe don't see coming.

“But as against Sunderland, we'll have a team competing and playing with pride for the shirt."

Boro skipper Matthew Bates spent time on loan with Town in the 2006/07 season, making two appearances before a cruciate knee ligament injury saw him return home.

Mowbray is a former Town skipper, coach and caretaker-manager. His assistant manager is Mark Venus, who was also part of George Burley’s Blues side. No current member of the Town squad has played for Boro.

The Blues have had the better of Middlesbrough over the years, winning 27 games (25 in the league), drawing 13 (13) and losing 16 (15). Boro are currently without a win in six matches in all competitions and also in their last six league games.

In September, Town recorded their first draw of the season as their visit to the Riverside ended scoreless.

Jason Scotland went nearest to breaking the deadlock with a shot against the post in the second half, while Michael Chopra and Ibrahima Sonko both went close in the first period.

When the sides last met at Portman Road in April, they drew 3-3 in a game which boss Paul Jewell said at the time could have ended 7-7.

Grant Leadbitter put the Blues in front early on, but two goals in a minute just before the break from Andy Halliday and Scott McDonald saw the visitors into a surprise lead.

The Teessiders extended their lead after the restart via Andrew Taylor but Connor Wickham and then Leadbitter from the spot levelled with both teams having opportunities to win it late on.

The club have cut prices for the game by 25% in what they describe as “a major ticketing trial”. To take advantage of the offer, you must order tickets before Saturday.

This weekend's match programme is available in an online electronic version here as well as in its traditional format at the game.

Prior to kick-off, the Supporters Trust will be collecting signatures for their petition calling on the club to commit to Category One Academy status by Sir Alf.

Town are confident the game will go ahead despite the snowy recent conditions but it’s worth keeping an eye out for developments if the weather deteriorates between now and Saturday afternoon.

The match is now one of the main games on Saturday night's Football League Show (BBC1 11.55pm).

Saturday’s referee is Dean Whitestone from Northampton, who has shown 73 yellow cards and four red in 25 games so far this season. Whitestone’s most recent Town match was the 2-2 draw at Cardiff in October, in which he awarded the Bluebirds a highly contentious penalty for handball against Carlos Edwards and booked two players from each side.

Squad from: Lee-Barrett, McCarthy, Edwards, Cresswell, Ainsley, Smith, Sonko, Delaney, Drury, Hyam, Bullard, Leadbitter, Emmanuel-Thomas, Murphy, Carson, Martin, Chopra, Scotland, Ellington.

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SitfcB added 15:00 - Feb 10
Haroun and Robson haven't traveled :D

PJewellisaGod added 15:02 - Feb 10
Like to see a solid 1-0 win (no defensive disasters please).
Still feel we are VERY light in CD. Smith looks really shaky at times and Sonko's form is unpredictable.

PhilTWTD added 15:05 - Feb 10
Good spot Sitters. Read the article which was unclear but not the tweet from the club. Amended.

Garv added 15:53 - Feb 10
To be fair we have read this headline very often under Jewell. You can slate him all you want but you can't deny that generally his selections have been consistent when possible, at the very least much more than the previous manager.

Boro fans regard Robson as their best player so the fact that he hasn't travelled is comforting. I fancy Smith and Sonko to take care of Jutkiewicz, Emnes is more of a worry for me although I'm not sure he's fully fit?

arc added 15:55 - Feb 10
A clean sheet would be nice for a change. And a win, obviously...

village_blue added 16:05 - Feb 10
If it ain't broke you don't have to fix it.Same 11 to start the match but can we please have Carson on the bench PJ.

glm86 added 16:17 - Feb 10
Village_blue: Ditto

jas0999 added 16:22 - Feb 10
Carson will hopefully be on the bench.

Should be an easy win. Boro will still be knacked! 3-0.

JayITFC added 16:31 - Feb 10
I will be signing that petition. I'd rather us pump money in to our academy than splash out on transfer fees (Priskin) and excessive wages (Bullard).

stinkiusminkius added 17:53 - Feb 10
Easy win jas???? Are you mad? I presume you are just saying this to give yourself more ammo to have a go at PJ if it is anything other than an easy win.

s6blue added 18:22 - Feb 10
come on town, they are there for the taking after their midweek adventure

righty added 19:04 - Feb 10
Bring in Bullard and Leadbetter and McCarthy JEWELL OUT

BlueArmy12 added 19:31 - Feb 10
No way why the hell would you bring then 3 in when we had them we lost alot of games.And jewell in

camblue added 19:33 - Feb 10
righty, get back to Carrow Road.

jeera added 19:33 - Feb 10
Righty - What are you on about who the hell is Leadbetter?

And Phil, I can't see Leadbitter in the squad.

PhilTWTD added 20:47 - Feb 10

Meant Leadbitter, typed Bowyer for some reason. Amended.

walberswick added 21:11 - Feb 10
The Tinkerman can't help himself.

Ipswich 3 Boro 1 (HT 0-1).

singtown added 07:35 - Feb 11
Close game 3-2 to town because we can't stop conceding but the positives recently show that we can score a little more now than before!

If we can get consistent victories for next 6-8 games we'll be back in contention for playoff. Going strongly into the Playoffs shall strike fear into other contenders!

Call us late bloomers if you like! Go for it boys!


alexsmith111 added 09:02 - Feb 11
Drop mcarthy, put the young prem interesting keeper on bench, Carson on bench instead of lead boots, same 11 to start, finally some consistency.

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