McCarthy Taking it One Game at a Time
Tuesday, 3rd Dec 2013 06:00
Town boss Mick McCarthy is taking the traditional one game at a time approach as Blackburn visit Portman Road tonight in the first of two back to back home games, with Huddersfield following them to Suffolk on Saturday.
McCarthy, whose side won 1-0 at Charlton at the weekend, feels that successive home games can sometimes lead to an element of complacency: “I think Charlton possibly felt that way.
“Their fans had seen them beat Doncaster and they’ll have seen that they’ve got Ipswich coming; ‘Nice six points’. But it doesn’t work that way.
“Blackburn are a good side with good players. I’m not trying to put a dampener on it. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have nine points from nine? We’ll see.
“Let’s try and get three from three on Tuesday night and worry about Saturday then. This will be a really hard game. They played well on Saturday and beat Leeds.”
Looking at the league table, McCarthy says there’s little between the Blues and most of the sides they meet in their upcoming fixtures: “The next two opponents and ourselves are all on 23 points and then [after the trip to Nottingham Forest] Watford come here, so we’re all very much even.
“I would say that home and away there’s not a great deal in us. They certainly have the goalscorer of last year [Jordan Rhodes].
“They’ve got a good squad of players, Blackburn, and I think Gary Bowyer has settled things down, he’s calmed things down, there seems to be a little bit more consistency about the place. When you can get that, that certainly enhances the performances on the pitch.”
He says three matches in a week is a test of his squad but he believes his players will be up the challenge: “It does make it tough because there were one or two bumps and bruises from Saturday.
“We’ve got Tuesday night to contend with then it comes around very quickly again. And then we’ve got the bonkers Christmas fixture list, which is crazy. But they’re a fit bunch of lads, we’ll be fine.”
McCarthy was typically tight-lipped about his team selection at his pre-match press conference, but may well stick with the team which started at the Valley.
Dean Gerken will be in goal with Aaron Cresswell at left-back and Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra the centre-halves. Luke Chambers suffered a broken nose and a knock to his knee at Charlton but McCarthy expects him to be fit to take up his usual right-back role.
In midfield, Jay Tabb is likely to stay on the left, Paul Anderson on the right and Ryan Tunnicliffe and Cole Skuse in the middle.
If Chambers does fail to make it, Skuse would seem likely to go to right-back with Luke Hyam, who is over the back problem which saw him miss the trip to South London, coming back into the midfield.
Up front, David McGoldrick is again likely to be partnered by Daryl Murphy with Frank Nouble and – if he is OK after his shoulder injury – Paul Taylor likely to play a part from the bench. New loanee Jordan Graham will be hoping to make his Town debut.
On-loan Cardiff striker Rudy Gestede could make his debut for Blackburn having recovered from a minor niggle which forced him out of the Leeds match.
Midfielder Lee Williamson missed Saturday’s 1-0 home victory over the Whites due to a migraine but is back in the squad.
Former England keeper Paul Robinson (back) is in training but not yet ready for a return to action, while midfielders Dickson Etuhu and Corry Evans are also currently sidelined, both due to ankle injuries.
Town have had the upper hand on Rovers over the years, winning 16 games (13 in the league), losing 12 (11) and drawing 15 (14). However, the Blues are without a win in nine league games against Rovers, stretching back to a 1-0 home victory in November 1993, although Town did win an FA Cup third round replay 1-0 at Ewood Park in January 1996.
No one in the current Town squad has played for Rovers, but three current Blackburn players have featured for the Blues.
Jordan Rhodes, the son of former Town keeper-coach Andy, came through the academy ranks at Playford Road.
The striker made 10 sub appearances and scored one goal for the Blues first team before being controversially sold to Huddersfield by then-manager Roy Keane in the summer of 2009 for a fee which, after top-ups and a sell-on following his £8 million move to Rovers in August 2012, climbed to just over £1 million.
Former Town loanee DJ Campbell joined the Lancashire club on a permanent basis in the summer having been on loan there during the second half of last season.
Another ex-Blues loan player Bradley Orr is also still a Blackburn player but is currently on loan at Blackpool. Rovers' Cameroonian defender Yann Songo’o had a trial at Portman Road in the summer of 2012.
Last time the sides met, at Ewood Park in February, perhaps inevitably, Rhodes netted just after the hour to see Town to a 1-0 defeat in a scrappy affair.
There was little between the teams in a poor game with the only goal somewhat fortunate, Aaron Cresswell clearing off the line from Grant Hanley and Rhodes stabbing it over the line off Blues keeper Stephen Henderson.
Rovers were last at Portman Road on the opening day of last season when an own goal by Blackburn defender Jason Lowe seven minutes from time saw the Blues to a deserved 1-1 draw.
Jason Scotland had laid Luke Hyam’s pass into the six-yard box for Michael Chopra before the Rovers left-back diverted it home. The visitors had gone in front in the first half via debutant Colin Kazim-Richards.
Tonight’s referee is Fred Graham from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, who has shown 44 yellow cards and no red in 13 games so far this season.
Graham’s most recent Town match was the 1-1 draw at Brighton in September 2012, in which he booked three home players and no Blues.
Squad from: Gerken, Loach, Chambers, Veseli, Hammond, Cresswell, Mings, Smith, Berra, Skuse, Hyam, Wordsworth, Tunnicliffe, Edwards, Anderson, Tabb, Hunt, Graham, Murphy, McGoldrick, Nouble, Taylor.
Photo: Action Images
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