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Chopra and Stearman Back for Bolton Clash
Friday, 15th Mar 2013 14:46
Michael Chopra and Richard Stearman will be back in the Town side for Saturday’s home game against in-form Bolton Wanderers. Left-back Aaron Cresswell is expected to be fine, despite suffering an ankle problem in training, but right-back Elliott Hewitt and striker Frank Nouble both miss out due to injuries.
Striker Chopra looks set to return to the team for Nouble having missed last week’s 0-0 draw at Peterborough due to a dead leg.
Manager Mick McCarthy confirmed his availability: “He’s all right, he’s trained today and he’s in the squad for tomorrow, along with everybody else who is fit and available.
“Frank Nouble’s out, Cressy didn’t train today but he’ll be all right, he’ll be fine. He’s confident he’ll be OK.
“He rocked his ankle yesterday. I think he’ll be all right, he says he’ll be all right, I’ve just seen him. He’s had treatment, there’s no swelling on it, he’ll be OK.”
The Blues boss says Tyrone Mings, who joined the club from Chippenham Town in December, would have started had Cresswell been unavailable: “Tyrone Mings would have played, he was playing. I told him that if Cressy has any problem then he’ll play.
“There’s no point in putting square pegs in round holes. Unless I give him a chance, you’ll never see him.
“I had that early on in my career when I ended up [without] a right-back and I played a centre-back there and it didn’t work and I wish to this day I’d have given the kid his chance and played him.”
Wales U21 international Elliott Hewitt made his first league start for the Blues at London Road but is unavailable this weekend: “Elliott Hewitt has got a sore hip flexor in his abdominal area which we’ve got to get checked out, so he’s not going to play.
“He wouldn’t have played anyway, I’d would have played Richard Stearman, who is back [from his one-match suspension]. He was excellent beforehand.
“But it’s sad to have him injured because I thought he was excellent last week, he played really well.”
Earlier in the week, midfielder Anthony Wordsworth said that he was ahead of schedule as he recovers from cracking three vertebrae in the 1-0 home victory over Blackpool.
McCarthy confirmed that the former Colchester man could be back for the Leeds game after the international break which follows the weekend: “He’s been out running today and he’s far more optimistic now than he was.
“Let’s hope he is. We’ve got two weeks off after Saturday with no game, so he can get some rehab done and hopefully be OK.”
Winger Lee Martin will serve the second match of his three-game ban for his red card at Nottingham Forest this weekend, while striker Paul Taylor is still recovering from his foot surgery and is currently undergoing rehab at St George's Park, the National Football Centre at Burton.
McCarthy is unlikely to stray too far from the side which drew at Peterborough with Stephen Henderson in goal, Stearman returning for Hewitt at right-back, Cresswell on the left and Luke Chambers and Tommy Smith at the centre of the defence.
In midfield, Jay Tabb is likely to continue on the left, but there is more of a question on the right with skipper Carlos Edwards now over his groin problem and looking likely to replace Andy Drury.
Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw have become fixtures in the centre of the midfield, while up front Chopra is likely to be paired with David McGoldrick.
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman has a lot of time for the Blues and boss Mick McCarthy: “I have full respect for Ipswich Town as a club and I respect their manager hugely in terms of what he does with his team.
“I always go into games regardless if we are off the back of a win or a defeat having prepared the best way we possibly can.
“We have had a good week, the lads are fresh, we have worked on our tactics ahead of the game and we are raring to go.
“I am looking forward to seeing how far we have come since the last time we played Ipswich Town where I thought we played very well for 75 minutes but we fell apart for 15 minutes.
“It will be interesting to see how far we have come, not only with the result but in terms of our performance and our attitude towards playing the game and I am looking forward to the game.”
The former Palace manager is considering whether to switch to a three-man backline against the Blues: “It definitely gives us an option. We have worked very hard on that behind the scenes.
“It is a slightly different way of attacking and defending. It gives one or two people more of a licence to go forward, ie Marcus Alonso, and that’s a big weapon. I will be shocked if we don’t look at that in one or two games.”
Freedman is set to recall Hungarian keeper Adam Bogdan, who is back in training after a groin injury which has kept him out of the last two games, while ex-Blues loanee Keith Andrews will be absent with Achilles’ and thigh problems.
Full-back Tyrone Mears has a blood infection and midfielder Mark Davies is out long-term with a knee injury.
Historically things the Blues just have the edge, having won 14 times (12 in the league), Bolton 13 (nine) and with seven (six) games between the teams ending in draws.
The Trotters sit in eighth in the Championship on 54 points, 12 places and 11 points above the Blues. The have won their last five matches, their best run for seven years.
In December at the Reebok Stadium, Michael Chopra netted his first goal under Mick McCarthy’s management in the final minute as the Blues came from behind to win 2-1.
The home side had gone in front through Mark Davies in the first half, but DJ Campbell equalised from the spot after Daryl Murphy had been fouled, then Chopra completed the job at the death.
The teams’ last meeting at Portman Road was in the FA Cup in 2005, at the third round stage. Henrik Pedersen scored twice for the Trotters and Stylianos Giannakopoulos once as they progressed 3-1, Tommy Miller notching for the Blues.
In the league, the last game between the teams on Suffolk soil came in Town’s 2001/02 relegation campaign and ended 2-1 to the visitors. Gudni Bergsson and Michael Ricketts put the Trotters two goals in front, while Matt Holland scored Town's goal just before half-time.
The most famous meeting between the teams at Portman Road was the Blues’ 5-3 (7-5 aggregate) play-off semi-final victory in 2000.
Jim Magilton scored a hat-trick, Bolton were reduced to nine men, had ten players booked and conceded three penalties. Magilton scored one and missed one and Jamie Clapham netted the other before a fifth goal from Martijn Reuser saw Town to Wembley for the first time since the 1978 Charity Shield.
Keith Andrews spent the first half of last season on loan at Portman Road from Blackburn, scoring nine goals in 19 starts and one sub appearance.
He joined West Brom in January 2012, then moved on to Bolton in the close season. American midfielder Stuart Holden spent time on trial with the Blues in 2005.
Saturday’s referee is former Premier League official Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire, who has shown 96 yellow and two red cards in 35 games so far this season. Attwell’s most recent Town game was Mick McCarthy’s first in charge of the Blues at Birmingham in November when he booked only Bilel Mohsni.
Squad from: Henderson, Loach, Stearman, Cresswell, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Kisnorbo, Brown, N’Daw, Drury, Hyam, Tabb, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Thorsteinsson, McGoldrick, Murphy, Mclean, Chopra.
Photo: Action Images
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