Jewell Will Field Strongest Side Against Bristol Rovers
Tuesday, 14th Aug 2012 11:30
Town boss Paul Jewell says he will field his strongest possible team in tonight’s season-opening Capital One Cup first round tie against Bristol Rovers at Portman Road (KO 7.45pm). The Blues manager’s options are somewhat limited by international calls and a couple of injuries, while he admits his squad is three players short.
Defender Damien Delaney is away with the Republic of Ireland for a friendly against Serbia in Belgrade tomorrow, while striker Ronan Murray’s Irish U21s face Turkey in a European Championships qualifier in Sligo this evening and midfielder Josh Carson is with the Northern Ireland full squad for their friendly with Finland, also on Wednesday.
Andy Drury is still suffering with his calf injury and summer signing Elliott Hewitt isn’t going to be ready for action until September due to the hip impingement operations he underwent while still with Macclesfield.
Jewell, who would have preferred to have played the game on Saturday, which wasn't feasible due to the Olympics and its effect on the transport system, says he’ll name as near to his first XI as he is able: “We are playing our strongest available team.
“It’s not at an ideal time but it’s a game and we’re looking forward to the game. We would like to have played the game on Saturday but that wasn’t possible, so we’ve got to deal with it.
“It’s not going to be a team that’s rested, we can’t afford to do that. We want to win the match, we want to progress and take the winning mentality into the game on Saturday if we can do that.”
The Blues boss feels he has a decent enough XI but a squad which lacks depth, something which will be illustrated by the youthful bench he expects to name tonight with the likes of Cormac Burke and Gunnar Thorsteinsson set to be handed squad numbers.
Jewell said: “In the last couple of games we’ve looked really good in the first half when we’ve kept that team together. Then when we’ve made changes we’ve not got quite the strength in depth that’s needed.
“I’m not unhappy with my first XI,” he continued. “I just think that underneath, if we get a couple of injuries, we’re going to be unbelievably stretched, which we are [against Bristol Rovers].
“We’ve got three international call-ups. I’m hoping the game doesn’t go into extra-time as I’m not sure some of them will be able to keep awake. For the young players it’ll be past their bedtime.”
Keeper Scott Loach, central defender Luke Chambers and central midfielder Massimo Luongo are set to make their Town debuts.
Tommy Smith will start alongside Chambers with Aaron Cresswell probably on the left and skipper Carlos Edwards on the right of the defence.
With Drury absent, Luke Hyam will play alongside Luongo with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas – who has said he is planning a Usain Bolt-style goal celebration – on the right.
In Carson’s absence, Jewell faces a decision on the left of midfield. He could move Lee Martin from his central role or alternatively he could hand a first start to 16-year-old Byron Lawrence.
A further option is pushing Cresswell forward and Joe Whight making his debut at left-back with the youngster hinting at some involvement on Twitter: "Big night tonight."
If Martin moves wide, Ryan Stevenson – or perhaps Lawrence – could come into his position just behind lone striker Michael Chopra, or Jason Scotland could start alongside the Blues’ pre-season top scorer in a 4-4-2.
Jewell has confirmed that Nathan Ellington will be in the 18-man squad and is likely to be amongst the more senior players on the seven-man bench.
Rovers boss Mark McGhee, who was a member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen side which beat then-holders Town in the UEFA Cup in 1981/82, is looking forward to the match: “It is very unusual to start the season on a Tuesday night, but I do not think it is a bad thing, I think it is a very exciting game for us.
“Ipswich is always great place to go to, the playing surface is always fantastic and we know the sort of team they will put out, so we are well prepared. It is a game we are up for and have looked at as the focus of our pre-season programme.
“We will do everything we possibly can to make progress in the competition, but if we don’t then we will live with that. We are playing a Championship side away from home, and we certainly won’t be favourites. If we come away with a result it will be a tremendous achievement.
“We then have an important game at home against Oxford on Saturday, and that would be the one I would choose to win. But we might win them both.”
Rovers are waiting on international clearance for German midfield addition Fabian Broghammer, while a move for Oxford United striker Jamie Constable may not go through in time for tonight’s match.
The Pirates have signed Chelsea keeper Sam Walker, 20, on loan and he is expected to make his debut at Portman Road this evening. Former Forest keeper Paul Smith was thought likely to have signed in time to play but that deal is yet to be completed. Faroese defender Rogvi Baldvinsson has left the club two weeks after agreeing to join.
Experienced centre-half Garry Kenneth is expected to miss out with a hamstring injury, defender Danny Woodards has a broken leg, keeper Scott Bevan a wrist problem and striker Eliot Richards is on international duty with the Wales U21s, who are coached by ex-Town and Pirates man Geraint Williams. Midfielder Matthew Lund has an Achilles’ problem and may also be unavailable.
The Blues last met the League Two side in the third round of the FA Cup in January 1998 when Town won 1-0 in a replay at Portman Road with David Johnson scoring the goal. The first tie had been played in icy conditions at the Memorial Ground and had ended 1-1 with Mick Stockwell netting for the Blues.
The most famous meeting between the clubs also came in the FA Cup on the way to Wembley in 1978. The first game at Eastville ended 2-2 with Robin Turner scoring twice, again in wintry weather, before the Blues won the replay 3-0 at Portman Road with Clive Woods, Mick Mills and Paul Mariner on the scoresheet.
The clubs have never met in the League Cup, while Rovers have had the better of the games between the clubs overall, winning 15 (15 in the league), drawing nine (seven) and with Town victorious on 13 (nine) occasions. The visitors' last win at Portman Road was on Boxing Day 1958 when they beat the Blues 2-0.
Town striker Nathan Ellington was with the Pirates between 1999 and 2002 before Paul Jewell paid £150,000 to take him to Wigan. Academy U18s coach Russell Osman had a short spell as caretaker-manager at Rovers in 2004.
Legendary Blues striker Marcus Stewart recently rejoined the club where he started his playing career as a development coach.
Prices are much reduced for the game with adult seats at £14, concessions at £10 and children’s tickets at £3, full details on the club site.
Tonight’s referee is Fred Graham from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, who showed 89 yellow and four red cards in 38 games last season. His most recent Town match was the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in April in which he booked Tommy Smith, Damien Delaney and Lee Martin as well as two Eagles players.
Squad from: Loach, Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Ainsley, Cresswell, Whight, Chambers, Smith, Thorsteinsson, Luongo, Hyam, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin, Stevenson, Lawrence, Burke, Chopra, Scotland, Ellington.
Photo: Action Images
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