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McCarthy Delighted to Have Options
Friday, 14th Aug 2015 16:05

Town boss Mick McCarthy is delighted to have plenty of selection dilemmas as the Blues go into their first home game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday (KO 3pm). Only skipper Luke Chambers started both the 2-2 opening day draw at Brentford and the 2-1 Capital Cup victory over Stevenage in midweek, with several youngsters and new signings handed their debuts over the two games.

With a number of players impressing during those matches, McCarthy has decisions to make in most areas of his team, something he says managers love to have.

“For sure,” he said. “It can only prove to be difficult if the players who are not playing become difficult.

“If there are any better four strikers in the league I’d like to see them and two of them are mainly going to be left out at some stage, so that’s a difficult one. But it has to happen. I won’t [fit people in for the sake of fitting them in].

“But there’s nothing worse than when you keep turning round and looking at the bench hoping that somebody’s face is going to change because you think ‘Can’t put them on’.

“I’ve been there, I’ve been there when Taff [Town scout Ian Evans, McCarthy’s assistant at Sunderland, Ireland and early on at Wolves] came up alongside me and said ‘Don’t even think about it!’ because he knew I was and I wasn’t going to make the team any better. Now when I look around I’ve got some good back-up.”

In front of a crowd expected to be approaching the 21,000 mark, McCarthy looks set to start with Bartosz Bialkowski in goal, despite the Pole having made an error for Brentford’s late, late equaliser last week.

Jonas Knudsen will make his home debut at left-back, despite Myles Kenlock impressing against Stevenage, while Christophe Berra - who served his one-match ban at Brentford - seems certain to be on the left of the centre of the defence.

The Town boss has much to think about elsewhere in his defence with Josh Emmanuel impressing on his debut at right-back last week.

The Blues manager will be considering whether to give the 17-year-old - he’s 18 on Saturday - his home debut, which would probably see Tommy Smith drop to the bench and Chambers join Berra at the heart of the backline, or to continue with his captain at right-back and Smith alongside the Scottish international.

Jonny Parr is now back in training after his thigh problem but seems unlikely to start, although may be on the bench.

In central midfield, with Kevin Bru, Teddy Bishop and Luke Hyam all sidelined with injuries, McCarthy will have to choose between recent additions Giles Coke and Jonathan Douglas to take the role alongside Cole Skuse.

Coke, who was released by Wednesday at the end of last season after five years at Hillsborough, may well get the nod having played more football in pre-season than the former Brentford man.

Ryan Fraser, who has signed a new three-year deal with parent club Bournemouth, will be on the left with Ainsley Maitland-Niles making his home debut for the Blues on the right.

As McCarthy has said, he has big decisions to make up front. Last season’s 27-goal top scorer Daryl Murphy seems likely to start, while Freddie Sears impressed at Griffin Park and David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman were amongst Town’s best performers against Boro on Tuesday.

McGoldrick may well have done enough to come into consideration for his first league start since suffering his troublesome thigh injury at Rotherham in February but Sears would be unlucky to miss out if that's the case. Pitman and whoever else is left out of the XI will play a part from the bench at some stage.

Despite Wednesday bringing in new head coach Carlos Carvalhal over the summer and plenty of money having been spent, McCarthy says the core of their squad is much the same as last year.

“They’re not hugely different because the two centre-halves are probably similar or the same [Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens], the left-back is Jeremy Helan, they’ve got Jack Hunt on loan [at right-back].

“The differences are that Ross Wallace is a left footer on the right and a guy called Marco Matias, Portuguese I believe, and Alex Lopez are in the middle. But other than that it’s Lewis McGugan and Sam Hutchinson, Atdhe Nuhiu up front.

“They’ve a couple of who came on as sub, one a lad called Lucas Joao. They’ve got a Portuguese manager and they’ve added some of the players he knows and he likes, so there’s a slightly different feel to it, they were playing 4-3-3. But, I’d say the nucleus of the team is still the same.”

He added: “Wallace is a good player, Matias is, Nuhiu is because of his size and his physical presence. McGugan certainly, he’s a really good footballer and shoots from anywhere with both feet.

“The couple of lads who came on as subs, they did all right as well, so I think they’ve got a bit of back-up as well.

“And if they do get in front they make it difficult to play against them because they sit back and get really tough.”

He says Wednesday is a big club with ambitions of returning to the Premier League after a long absence: “They always expect to be up there. It’s a big club and expectations are always high there. And if they’re investing money then expectations will be greater.

“Whether they can live up to all those expectations we'll find out. We’ll all be the same this year, there’s a big prize at the end of the year for getting promoted, everybody wants to do it.”

The Owls, who have also fielded essentially two different sides in their two games so far this season, will be without defender Claude Dielna (toe) and midfielder Filipe Melo (knee)

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal says travelling to take on the Blues will be a different challenge to Bristol City, who they beat 2-0 at Hillsborough in their opening Championship fixture, prior to a 4-1 Capital One Cup victory at home to Mansfield on Tuesday.

“I will choose the 18 squad players that in my opinion will be the best to try and win the match,” he told

“Our principles will remain the same. Playing against Bristol City at home will be very different from playing against Ipswich away but we need to keep our identity and principles that we’ve had since day one.

“We must provide the right answers to the questions that Ipswich ask and it will be very different from Bristol.

“That’s not saying one team is better than the other, it’s a different type of football, it’s a different game with different challenges and we must provide the answers. This is how it will be with every game we face this season.”

He added: “We see what the players do in the previous matches, what they do in training and the opponent that we will play, looking at their strong points and weak points.

“After that, we will select our XI. Our identity will always be the same, home and away and this is important.

“Teams will ask us different questions all season but we can’t respond with the same answers, we need different answers for each game depending on the opponents.”

Historically, the record is very evenly balanced, both sides having won 17 games (16 in the league) with 11 (10) matches between them having ended in draws.

Last time the teams met, at Portman Road in February, Daryl Murphy and Luke Chambers netted second-half headers as the Blues came from a goal down at half-time to win 2-1.

A defensive mix-up between Bartosz Bialkowski and Christophe Berra led to Kieran Lee putting the Owls in front on 20 but the Blues were always on top and Murphy flicked home a Freddie Sears cross on 52, his 19th goal of the season, and Chambers powered in the winner 15 minutes later from Kevin Bru’s ball in from the left.

In September last year at Hillsborough, returning loanee Jonny Williams struck four minutes after coming off the bench to claim a 1-1 draw.

The Crystal Palace man, who was making his second Town debut, half-volleyed home in the 63rd minute, Atdhe Nuhiu having put the Owls ahead in the fifth minute.

Recent Blues signing Giles Coke spent five years with Wednesday having signed from Motherwell in July 2010, making 77 starts and 24 sub appearances and scoring seven goals.

Both Town’s front two have had loan spells with the Owls. David McGoldrick spent a month there during the early part of 2011/12, scoring once in three starts and one sub appearance, while Daryl Murphy was at Hillsborough for a month in 2005 while a Sunderland player, making four appearances but failing to find the net.

Former Town keeper Lewis Price, 31, joined Wednesday this summer following his release by Crystal Palace. After joining the Town as an academy scholar from Southampton, Price went on to make 74 starts and one sub appearance for the Blues between 2004 and 2007.

Canadian-born striker Caolan Lavery, a Northern Ireland U21 international, joined the Owls in the summer of 2012 having turned down a professional contract with the Blues during the previous season after coming through the Town Academy.

Saturday’s referee is James Linington from Newport, Isle of Wight, who has shown just the one yellow card in his two games so far this season.

Linington’s most recent Town match was the 3-2 home win against Blackpool last season in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.

Earlier last season he was in charge of the 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest, when he booked only one home player, and the 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Portman Road in which he yellow-carded David McGoldrick and three Teessiders.

Town squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Emmanuel, Knudsen, Kenlock, Parr, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Yorwerth, Skuse, Douglas, Tabb, Coke, McDonnell, Benyu, Maitland-Niles, Fraser, Touré, Murphy, McGoldrick, Sears, Pitman.

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itfchorry added 16:50 - Aug 14
Sears would be very unlucky if he was
Left out - played well at Brentford

samsonblue added 17:00 - Aug 14
would very much like to see

Murphy Sears
ANM McG Fraser
Knudsen Emmanuel
Berra Chambers

Think that team could take on all the championship sides!!

muccletonjoe added 17:42 - Aug 14
An interesting read. Would be very surprised if Smith is left on the bench, coke or Douglas is the other big question mark. It could be either.

Geoff added 18:06 - Aug 14
A winning team picks itself.

Tractorboy1985 added 18:21 - Aug 14
The front 4 really is a massive headache for mick.. I wouldn't like to pick! Freddie was sensational when brought in in January.. Lively.. Creative.. A super little player! I am one who would like to see if mcgoldrick could play behind 2 of them but surely that was for pre season and we haven't seen it! Pitman will score goals if given the service which he will from the classy Fraser and AMN! Bru 2morro is a big miss in my opinion.. This season he really could make a statement! Won't sleep properly 2nite.. 9.54 train for me gets me in to Ipswich at 11.30.. Few round the town then let's make some noise in the drum! COYB!!

JimInGreensboro added 19:02 - Aug 14
Erm kay. How about we play 4-3-3 when we wear the Barca unis, then?

oddball added 19:07 - Aug 14
Sears must play imo..

MB26 added 19:26 - Aug 14
I'd roll with Bart, Emmanuel, Chambers, Berra, Knudsen, Fraser, Skuse, Douglas, Maitland-Niles, Murphy and McGoldrick. Sears hasn't done anything particularly wrong (finishing needs to be better but that comes back when the season gets into full swing) and McGoldrick is playing superbly the threat he was before his injury. Sears can be more dangerous from the bench than from the start.

battyblue added 19:51 - Aug 14
Simple play 433 and i don't think Murphy has booked his place this season as yet.Sears is a massive handful whether he scores or not with his pace should be first attacker on the team sheet.

Seasider added 21:20 - Aug 14
Not sure whether Murph should be automatic choice purely on last seasons feat.Hasn't looked as good as Pitman so far to me but appreciate started training later;but so did McGoldrick and thought he had super game on Tuesday as did Kenlock the lb.

Think it would be a brave man however to drop Murph;but think Didsy should play in midfield just behind strikers as we have lost two of our classy playmakers in Bru and Bishop.

Keep the same widemen and fullbacks as played at Brentford,and play the same on the floor footy,with the odd long ball to keep their defence guessing and hopefully we will get a win tomorrow.

TomJamesLW added 21:55 - Aug 14
For me McG has to be the first name on the team sheet.
He does what he wants! Could win us a game at any moment.

itfc1981 added 23:34 - Aug 14
Sadly no debate. Smith will start.

Mick will change some things but he will not drop Smith.

batram92 added 07:16 - Aug 15
Start with Sears and Murphy up top. They've earned it. Never thought we'd have the problem where we've got such a strong set of strikers to choose from! Honestly can't see a combination of Sears/ McGoldrick, Sears/ Pittman or Pittman/McGoldrick working. All will thrive off a big guy like Murph. Hope I'm proved wrong!
Can't see anything but 3 points for Town today. Hopefully with Berra back we will be more solid when closing the game out. Emmanuel deserves to keep his place too!

paulcooperisgod added 07:50 - Aug 15
There is no way MM is going to drop SMITH and play a natural right back and push CHAMBERS back into the centre and whose going to partner SKUSE in midfield? Why TABB of course he's different class our tabby

TimmyH added 10:39 - Aug 15
Not sure we have quite as many options as Mick makes out..injuries in midfield and quite scarce cover at the back, hope this is not a sign that Mick feels we have enough personnel in our squad and hence the cheque book goes into the drawer. Still like to see us sign McGhee at least, how much have we spent of Mings £8M?...the answer not a lot.

gippeswyk added 11:42 - Aug 15
You cant leave out last seasons top scorer, and the best in a town shirt for donkey's years. He needs a few games under his belt to get back into the swing of things. Leaving him on the bench will be counterproductive. McG was superb v stevenage. I'd like to see him and Murph start and Sears to make an impact from the bench. Tough for Pittman to be left out tho. He and Frazer linked up well on Tuesday as you'd expect. Mind you Frazer was picking out everybody with his crosses and corners. Exciting times!

carsey added 12:31 - Aug 15
Got to leave Smith on the bench and keep Josh at RB. Up front Murphy and Pitman not sure about D McGoldrick in the midfield as he is not industrious when we are not in possession

gippeswyk added 12:42 - Aug 15
Carsey, were you at the stevenage game? McG was very industrious and was seen coming right back to get the ball and make things happen many times. In fact, people were calling for him to get forward more.

carsey added 13:24 - Aug 15
gippeswyk I wasn't at the game and I stand to be corrected my opinion is based solely on what he has been like over the past 2 seasons. If he has added defensive qualities to his repertoire great and I will be pleased to see him there. I don't question his ability just his habit of going walk about on occasion.

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