|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 AFC Bournemouth|
Monday, 21st April 2014 Kick-off 15:00
McCarthy: It's Still in the Mix
Monday, 21st Apr 2014 06:00
Boss Mick McCarthy says the final play-off place is “still in the mix” as the Blues go into today’s vital home game against fellow challengers AFC Bournemouth in eighth, one point behind Brighton in sixth. The Town manager was pleased with the performance at Watford on Saturday, despite the 3-1 defeat.
“I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not disappointed in how we played at all,” McCarthy said. “But who knows, it could all turn on its head.
“We all fancied Forest at one stage, we all fancied Reading, we all fancied Brighton. Bournemouth were flying, we just suddenly got a chance to get in the play-offs.
"It’s still in the mix, three games to go, see what happens. [There are a number of teams in with a chance] and we’re still one of them, and isn’t it great?”
Having seen the Good Friday results go in Town’s favour, McCarthy was disappointed that his side couldn’t capitalise against the Hornets: “We all thought they were all great results for us but unless we get our result it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.”
The Town boss was pleased with goalscorer Anthony Wordsworth’s performance at Vicarage Road and believes the former Colchester man is capable of getting on the scoresheet regularly, Saturday’s equaliser having been his first of the season and only his second since joining the Blues in January 2013.
“I thought he played well when he got in against Brighton and Derby. I thought he played well today and I do think he’s got goals in him.
“I think he’s got better, he’s pulled his finger out. He trains hard, he plays well in the U21s. We know he’s got ability.”
Turning his attention to today’s game against the Cherries, who he watched lose 4-2 at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday, McCarthy has been impressed with them since their promotion from League One last summer.
“They’re a good side,” he said. “They’ve spent a few quid, by the way, they’re not just cobbled together by begging, stealing and borrowing.
“They’ve spent a few quid on wages, they took Yann Kermorgant for a good fee and a good salary from Charlton in January.
“Fair play to them, they won something like eight out of 10 games, which is a remarkable run. I said last week that they’d go to Yeovil, the bottom team in the league, and they wouldn’t win.
“But they are a good side, they’ve got good players and they get a day’s extra rest [following their Good Friday] as well.”
He says that the few quid the Cherries have spent is why the Dorset club are 10th and challenging for the play-offs, while last season’s other promoted League One teams, Yeovil and Doncaster, are at the other end of the table.
“There’s Bournemouth at one end and there’s Yeovil at the other,” he added. “Yeovil have got no money, poor Gary Johnson has been the loan ranger, just getting loans all the time, keeping taking people in. He did a great job getting them up and he’s had some really good results.
“Bournemouth have spent a few quid. Doncaster, the other ones who came up, have not spent the same amount but haven’t scrimped at it either. Richie Wellens is there, I think he commands a few quid. And they’ve had decent loans, Federico Macheda from Manchester United amongst them.
“But there are two of them in the bottom six and then Bournemouth who are flying. It depends on what investment you get what players you get.”
McCarthy will have to weigh up what changes to make to his team with today’s game coming so soon after Saturday’s match at Watford.
Dean Gerken will continue in goal and the back four is similarly set to be unchanged with skipper Luke Chambers at right-back, Aaron Cresswell on the left and Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith in the middle.
The Blues boss will probably stick with Cole Skuse and Luke Hyam in the centre of midfield but may look at changes elsewhere with Wordsworth and Frank Nouble having been in and out of the side and perhaps not up to playing two matches in such quick succession.
Paul Anderson is an option on the right of midfield, depending on the system employed and whether he is over the hamstring problem which saw him miss the trip to Watford, as is Paul Green, while Stephen Hunt is an alternative on the left.
McCarthy was confident that Jonny Williams would be fit despite picking up a knock late on against the Hornets and if so the on-loan Palace man is a certain starter along with main striker Daryl Murphy.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is unlikely to be OK to be involved having suffered a hamstring injury in training last week, but second-choice keeper Scott Loach could be back in the 18 having missed the weekend trip to his former club having woken up with a back problem on Saturday morning.
Bournemouth will have midfielder Harry Arter available again after a three-match suspension following a red card in the recent 2-1 home victory over QPR, while striker Lewis Grabban faces a fitness test.
Arter made a couple of appearances for the Town reserves in 2009 while on trial at Portman Road, while David McGoldrick spent three months on loan with the Cherries at the end of the 2006/07 season, scoring six goals in 12 games.
At Dean Court in December, Town stretched their unbeaten record to seven games as the sides drew 1-1. Daryl Murphy put the Blues in front in the 59th minute but Brett Pitman equalised for the Cherries on 74.
Prior to this season the teams last met in the League Cup first round back in the 1996/97 season when Town ran out 2-1 victors in the home first leg via goals from Paul Mason and Ian Marshall, Steve Fletcher scoring for the Cherries, and 3-0 winners at Dean Court when Alex Mathie, James Scowcroft and Mick Stockwell were on the scoresheet.
The last league game between the sides at Portman Road was back in the old Division Two during John Duncan’s time in charge in the 1989/90 season with Jason Dozzell scoring for the Blues and Peter Shearer for the Cherries as the game ended 1-1.
Overall, Town have won 14 (10 in the league), the Cherries 11 (11), while 10 (eight) games have been draws.
Prior to kick-off the club are holding a Family Fun Day on the Field Turf behind the East of England Co-op Stand, while there were still some free tickets for under-16s available over the weekend.
Today’s referee is Portman Road anti-hero Andy D’Urso, who has shown 98 yellow cards and nine red in 33 games so far this season.
The Billericay-based official’s most recent Blues match was the 1-1 home draw with Barnsley in November when Aaron Cresswell was shown a red card – the only one at a Town game this season – after the final whistle for continuing his protests following a late unsuccessful penalty claim.
Squad from: Gerken, Loach, Crowe, Chambers, Richardson, Cresswell, Mings, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Hyam, Wordsworth, Anderson, Green, Hunt, Tabb, Henshall, Williams, Nouble, Murphy, Taylor, Marriott.
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