Town Out to Extend Home Run Against Rovers
Friday, 17th Oct 2014 15:40
Town go into Saturday’s game against Blackburn Rovers looking to record their fourth home win on the trot. The Blues will be without top scorer Daryl Murphy and midfielders Luke Hyam and Teddy Bishop, while loanee Jonny Williams will be assessed in the morning.
Murphy suffered an achilles problem with Ireland and Williams an ankle injury when in action for Wales, while Hyam is still suffering with the hip flexor problem which forced him off at Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago and Bishop has been ill since early this week.
Former Ireland manager McCarthy says he’s in no position to have complaints about players picking up injuries while on international duty.
“It would be slightly disingenuous if I had, wouldn’t it, having used and abused everybody’s players for seven years myself,” he laughed.
“I haven’t, it’s one of those things. I spoke to Martin O’Neill, he was apologising, saying we’re doing well and Murph’s doing well and he’s sorry.
“It happens. They go away on international duty. I’ve played myself and I’ve no complaints.”
The absences will force McCarthy - who will be hoping the traditional Manager of the Month curse avoids him - into changes, although his back four and goalkeeper are likely to remain the same.
Skipper Luke Chambers, who has signed a new contract, will be alongside Christophe Berra at the centre of the defence with Championship Player of the Month Tyrone Mings on the left and Jonny Parr on the right.
Dean Gerken is likely to keep his place in goal despite questions having been asked regarding the goals at Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago.
If Williams is fit, then the on-loan Palace man seems likely to take up the withdrawn role in the front three behind David McGoldrick and Conor Sammon.
Cole Skuse will be one of the midfield trio with Jay Tabb, Kevin Bru and Paul Anderson in contention for the other two roles.
McCarthy has confirmed that Cameron Stewart, Darren Ambrose and Jack Collison will all be in the squad with the former West Ham man the least likely to make the final 18 having suffered a minor knock prior to returning to action in Tuesday’s U21s friendly against Southend.
The Town boss says he and his staff have been impressed with what they’ve seen of Blackburn, with ex-Blue Jordan Rhodes inevitably cited as the biggest danger.
“We’ve watched quite a bit of them for our analysis. They’ve got a good squad of players and I think they’ve played well in the games that we’ve watched.
“Rotherham beat Blackburn 2-0 but Blackburn were excellent in the second half when they changed the shape, and yet they’ve been 4-4-2 in every game,” he said.
“They’ve got some good players and, of course, they’ve got the goal machine Jordan Rhodes playing up front for them, so they’re always going to be a threat.”
Having been without eight players due to injury or suspension for the 0-0 draw with Huddersfield a fortnight ago Rovers manager Gary Bowyer felt the international break came at the right moment for his club.
"I think with the number of people that we've had missing it came at a good time for us,” he told the Rovers official site.
"It has enabled them to recover and get ready to go again. We are hoping that this can be a positive run for us with a tough six games before the next international break in November."
However, Blackburn have new injury concerns regarding centre-half Grant Hanley (knee) and striker Josh King, who picked up knocks while on international duty.
Midfielder Corry Evans is back after a ban, while striker Rudy Gestede is back in training after a hamstring problem, as are midfielder Tom Cairney (groin) and Alex Baptiste (calf). One-time England international midfielder David Dunn will come back into the squad after a knee injury.
Rovers will still be without Tommy Spurr (groin), Chris Brown (knee) and Jason Lowe (foot), while the game is likely to come too soon for ex-England keeper Paul Robinson (knee).
Town have had the upper hand on Rovers over the years, winning 17 games (14 in the league), losing 13 (12) and drawing 15 (14).
The Lancastrians, who haven’t won at Portman Road since a 3-1 Premier League victory in November 1994, are currently 12th in the Championship, four points behind sixth-placed Town and have won just once in their last five games. The Blues are unbeaten in their last seven.
Last time the sides met, at Ewood Park in April, Rhodes, inevitably, and Rudy Gestede netted second half goals condemned Town to a 2-0 defeat.
After an evenly-balanced first half, the Blues never looked like getting anything from the game after Rhodes had opened the scoring in the 64th minute, Gestede adding the second with 10 minutes left on the clock.
In December last year at Portman Road, Luke Hyam, Carlos Edwards and Frank Nouble were on target as Town beat Blackburn 3-1.
Hyam netted in the fourth minute but Rhodes equalised on the half hour, however, Edwards scored three minutes after the break and Nouble added the third four minutes from the end.
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.
Midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe joined Blackburn on loan from Fulham last month having spent the first half of last season on loan at Portman Road, making 24 starts and five sub appearances without scoring.
Rovers defender Yann Songo’o had a spell on trial with the Blues in September 2012 but failed to a win a deal.
Saturday’s referee is James Adcock from Nottinghamshire, who has shown 42 yellow cards and one red in 12 games so far this season. Adcock’s most recent Town match was the 2-0 defeat at Wigan in September last year in which he booked only Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Parr, Mings, Berra, Chambers, Smith, Skuse, Anderson, Tabb, Bru, Henshall, Ambrose, Collison, Hunt, Stewart, Williams, McGoldrick, Sammon, Bajner.
Photo: Action Images
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