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McCarthy Hoping Blues Respond to Tough Run
Friday, 27th Jan 2017 21:00

Boss Mick McCarthy hopes the current tough run of games will bring the best out of his players, starting tomorrow afternoon at Preston North End.

The trip to Deepdale to face the 11th-placed Lilywhites is followed by home games against Derby, who are seventh, and Reading in fourth, and then away matches at Aston Villa and Brighton, a visit from Leeds United - although that game will move if the Whites win at Sutton in the FA Cup on Sunday - and the East Anglian derby at Norwich.

“We’ll probably have our best run now because everybody’s looking at us and not expecting us to win, thinking, ‘We’ll not get anything out of that’,” said McCarthy, whose Blues are current 14th in the table nine points from the relegation zone and 11 from the play-offs.

“I’m not saying we are but I think my teams have always responded to the tougher games, to be quite honest, the supposedly tougher games.”

He says his Town teams having been no different to that during his time at Portman Road.

“I’d say so, I think that’s always been the case with the lads,” he added. “I’m hoping that will continue with the run we’ve got.”

McCarthy has a lot of time for his Preston counterpart Simon Grayson: “I think he’s done a good job everywhere he’s been, Simon.

“He gets the best out of them. I think his teams are very hard-working, pretty resolute and tough and hard to play against. That’s just what they are now and they’re on a good run. I like Simon, he’s a good guy.”

One player who is making his mark at Deepdale is winger Daryl Horgan, who joined the Lilywhites on a Bosman from Dundalk earlier in the month having been watched by McCarthy towards the end of last year.

The Town boss says that although he was impressed by the 24-year-old Irishman, the terms which he wanted were beyond what the Blues were willing to offer to someone who probably wouldn’t have been a regular starter this season.

“I spoke to the agents and we were never going to get close to what they were talking about for somebody coming in,” McCarthy said.

“When all’s said and done, you have to analyse it sometimes. He’s a right footer playing on the left wing.

“That would be an interesting one with Tom Lawrence, wouldn’t it? See if he gets in that position.

“He never was going to get in that position. We’ve probably got the best one in the league at the moment in Tom.

“So taking him in and having him on a first-team wage, it just wasn’t doable for us. There are things we can do and things we can’t and that was one that wasn’t going to happen.

“But good luck to Daryl, I quite liked him but he wasn’t going to dislodge Tom Lawrence.”

Another Preston player McCarthy rates is striker Jordan Hugill with a £2 million offer - the Blues’ second bid - understood to have been rebuffed.

“He's a real competitor, he works hard, he’s quick,” the Blues manager said. “He never gives centre-halves a minute’s peace. We’ll be seeing that on Saturday, no doubt.

“And he’s only going to get better. He added his couple of goals at the weekend. He’s somebody who has come into it a little bit later than others, certainly to professional football and he’d be one I like.”

But McCarthy wouldn’t comment on whether he had made an offer or confirm his interest in the ex-Port Vale frontman: “I won’t talk about him other than that. As I say, I like him, he’s a good player.”

The under-fire Town boss says he’s received support from fellow managers and other people in the game during the Blues’ disappointing season.

“I’ve had some nice calls and I make one or two to people who are beneath me,” he continued. “I’ve said ‘I hope your chairman keeps you in a job because your record’s making mine look good!’. I had a bit of fun with one or two of them.

“I’ve had lots of calls. I don’t need pick-me-ups or positive mental attitude lessons because I’m pretty good at that but it’s lovely when you get the call, and from your peers as well because they’ve had it and some of them have been the lads I’ve phoned when they’ve lost their jobs or they’ve been struggling.

“It just reminds you sometimes that it’s a great community, it’s nice to be involved in it and I don’t want to be going anywhere else.”

McCarthy revealed that he has taking part in Dry January but admits he probably didn’t pick the ideal month.

“I’m off it this January, I can’t wait until February 1st,” he laughed. “It’s been testing, I have to be honest.

“I should have looked at the fixture list, shouldn’t I really? I actually looked at my social diary, not the fixture list, I was being slightly disingenuous in giving it up for January.”

Reminded that last season’s game at Preston - a 2-1 fourth-match-of-the-season victory in August - took the Blues briefly to the top of the Championship, McCarthy said: “We had some really good positive results at a lot more places last year than we’ve had this season. It would be lovely to replicate that. But they’re going well.”

The Town boss has said Bartosz Bialkowski will return in goal having been ill for last week’s defeat at Huddersfield with Dean Gerken set to drop to the bench, although McCarthy had praise for the ex-Colchester and Bristol City man.

“Either one that’s got in has never let us down, they’re both very good goalkeepers but Bart has been that number one goalkeeper all year and that’s still the case for now.”

The Blues seem likely to stick with three men at the back with Paul Digby again likely to join skipper Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra.

The game will come too soon for new recruit Steven Taylor with international clearance required by midday today as his last club was MLS side the Portland Timbers. The former Newcastle man is also unlikely to be available for Tuesday's home game with Derby.

Jonas Knudsen will be at left wing-back, while McCarthy says he has made up his mind whether to start with recent signing Jordan Spence or youngster Josh Emmanuel on the right with the former West Ham and MK Dons man seeming likely to get the nod.

“I know who is playing already,” the Town boss said. “The decision’s not too hard and, to be fair to them, they have to work hard up and down up and down that side.

“It’s nice that I’ve got a couple of options that I can play and we’re going Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday which is not going to be easy, they’re all tough games.

“Preston are flying, Derby are flying even more and Reading are flying even higher still. I’m going to need all the help I can get over the next week.”

In midfield, new signing Toumani Diagouraga is likely to join Cole Skuse in the centre with Andre Dozzell, Kevin Bru or perhaps Teddy Bishop in the more advanced position of the three.

Bishop is more likely to be a substitute having only played one U23s game since returning from an ankle injury.

Up front, McCarthy has David McGoldrick available again after his hamstring injury but is likely to start with Tom Lawrence and Brett Pitman with the Ireland international coming off the bench at some stage having been out of action since the QPR game on January 2nd.

Preston boss Grayson, after McCarthy the Championship's second-longest-serving manager behind McCarthy, says his Town counterpart will be determined to get the Blues back on the right track.

“People are talking about there being a bit of disharmony,” Grayson told the Lancashire Evening Post.

“If there is, Mick is going to roll his sleeves up and get his players fired up to get a good result.

“We are in for a really tough game, we can’t forget that they have some good players and a really good manager.

“Mick has been someone I have grown close to over the years, when I first started out he was there to offer advice and was always on the end of a call if needed.

“When I left Leeds, Mick was the first on the phone to say I had done a good job and to carry on going.

“It speaks volumes that he is the longest serving manager in the Championship. Where he has worked and what he’s done, I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him.

“I know that Mick will have Ipswich organised and disciplined. Last week at Huddersfield there was nothing in the game, they went there and did a very good job on Huddersfield.

“But then a decent goal from Izzy Brown opened up the opportunity for Huddersfield to win it.”

He added: “We are just above Ipswich in the table, but there are no easy games. People might have talked this way when we played Wolves and Burton a few weeks ago.

“We only picked up two points from those games so we have to make sure we work hard and start properly.

“If we don’t start properly we will find it hard to pick up the three points. We have to be on the front foot, take the game to them.”

Blues target Hugill is a doubt for Preston having missed training this week after being subbed with a knee injury 12 minutes from the end of the Villa game and leaving the ground on crutches.

The Lilywhites hope to have him back in training today and available for Saturday.

Preston have midfielder Ben Pearson available again after suspension but full-back Greg Cunningham remains banned.

Midfielder John Welsh (calf) and defenders Calum Woods (knee) and Alex Baptiste (knee) remain sidelined.

Midfielder Ben Pringle joined Preston from Fulham last summer having been on loan with the Blues towards the end of last season, scoring two goals in nine starts and one sub appearance.

The Lilywhites have had the better of the Blues historically, winning 13 games (11 in the league) between the sides while Town have been victorious on 11 (10) occasions and eight (seven) matches have ended in draws.

In August, with striker Daryl Murphy in the process of travelling to Newcastle to complete his £3 million move to the Magpies, Grant Ward’s fourth goal of the season saw Town to a comfortable 1-0 victory over Preston North End at Portman Road. The former Spurs man smashed home from the edge of the box in the 15th minute.

Last time at Deepdale, in August 2016, Brett Pitman and Ryan Fraser netted as the then-top-of-the-table Blues won 2-1 to record their first league win at Preston since January 1966.

Pitman put Town in front with a header against the run of play in the 24th minute but Johnson hit back for the home side before Fraser sealed it with a brilliant strike on 65.

Saturday’s referee is Stephen Martin from Staffordshire, who has shown 59 yellow cards and two red in 23 games so far this season.

Martin’s last Town game was the 1-0 defeat at Leeds in September in which he booked only Christophe Berra and Kevin Bru.

He was also in charge of the 2-0 defeat at Brentford the previous month in which he booked only Adam Webster.

Prior to that, Martin refereed the 1-0 home defeat to Rotherham in March last year, in which he booked Jonas Knudsen and one Miller.

He also took control of the 2-1 home victory over Fulham on the opening day of 2014/15 in which he yellow-carded Tyrone Mings, Berra and Luke Hyam.

Before that he refereed the 2-0 home victory over Brighton in September 2013, when he booked only one visiting player, and the 2-1 loss at Bristol City in the January of that year, in which he showed a single yellow card to one of the home side.

Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Emmanuel, Spence, Berra, Digby, Skuse, Diagouraga, Douglas, Bru, Dozzell, Bishop, Ward, Lawrence, Sears, Best, Pitman, McGoldrick, Moore.

Photo: TWTD

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dirtydingusmagee added 06:42 - Jan 27
dont know if ive become dyslexic or not but I'm finding it harder and harder to understand MMs statements ,I have to go back and read paragraphs again to try and make sense of what he says .

phillev231069 added 06:52 - Jan 27
That's because most of what he Say's nowadays is crap!

stevelincsexile added 07:01 - Jan 27
I do feel sorry for Emmanuel he does not do anything wrong but MM seems determined not to give him a run in the team.

brian_a_mul added 07:07 - Jan 27
Having mcgoldrick, bish and pits back makes a huge difference and really gives us that threat. With Lawrence firing on all cylinders I think we can get a win here :)

Navistog123 added 07:23 - Jan 27
All very well saying that Daryl Horgan was not going to take the place of Tom Lawrence this season but isn't that incredibly short sighted from Mick and ITFC??

Correct me if I'm wrong but unless we have somehow managed to stump up the money to make Tom Lawrence a permanent player in the summer (which I highly doubt considering the Premiership Cubs and other high rolling Championship Clubs interested) surely we need a permanent left winger for next season?! Of course it would make for too much sense for ITFC and Mick to get one in over the January window (On a Free!!!), get him used to the team, the style, the town etc not to menation a full pre-season getting him ready to go next season?

brian_a_mul added 07:28 - Jan 27
As for wing backs, Preston are very strong out wide and we need to deal with that threat. Spence may be better equiped defensively. Stop the wide men and Hugill won't be as effective

muccletonjoe added 07:42 - Jan 27
At ieast no mention of douglas. A real shame we cant play taylor as he really could make a huge difference imo

Mark added 07:43 - Jan 27
“I’m not saying we are but I think my teams have always responded to the tougher games, to be quite honest, the supposedly tougher games.”

Hold on, Mick has been describing most recent opponents in positive terms even calling non-league Lincoln a very good side, I seem to recall.

A win tomorrow would be a big boost, and it may even help us sign the new player we want as we would be feeling very safe from relegation in that event.

Swn98 added 07:50 - Jan 27
Seems pretty clear English to me Dirty I think it might be you don't want to understand !

BluePG added 07:53 - Jan 27
“I’ve had some nice calls and I make one or two to people who are beneath me".

Modesty exuding from that comment.

Beckets added 08:38 - Jan 27
I've got a feeling Best won't be in the squad somehow despite him being listed above.

Penguinblue added 08:41 - Jan 27
I am sorry that it is unpleasant to seek someone's removal, but McCarthy is an awful manager for Ipswich Town, Entertaining football ceased long ago and the headless running around, hoofing, stopping the other team (which is a failed strategy) and his pathetic proper blokes spoils every game for me.

McCarthy thinks very highly of himself and never ceases to tell us. There are lot of other second rate people in football on the same gravy train seemingly anxious to tell us how lucky we are to have McCarthy.

Watch his cr@p negative football each week and listen to his constant excuse ridden bullshine and you might think differently.

Win, lose or draw tomorrow please bring your placards and voices Tuesday night to demand: -

McCarthy OUT - the season is over (unless you think we are going down). McCarthy is not the future. The time to change is now.

McCarthy OUT

spanishblue added 08:41 - Jan 27
Strange Hughill has an injury for tomorrow?

DurhamTownFan added 08:42 - Jan 27
Mark: I think he means games against bigger sides, where Mm's favourite tactic of sitting back and soaking up pressure is sometimes the best way to play. Bloody awful to watch though!

I'm not optimistic about this run, especially with MM, Berra and Chambers all with uncertain futures. Could easily just decide to down tools if things go badly in this game and on Tuesday, and if the fans turn again on Tuesday (don't blame anyone f you boo, btw: I probably would!)

BotesdaleBlue added 08:44 - Jan 27
Spot on Navistog123. They are my thoughts exactly.

martin587 added 08:53 - Jan 27
One things for sure,MM has to be positive tomorrow.Anything other will be another disaster.The ability is there so it's up to you MM to get it right.Just hope I won't have another lousy drive home after another disappointing display.
Still disappointed about not getting in a few quality players.Just up the bids if they are that good,stop faffing about and get the job done Mr.Evans.

shakytown added 09:05 - Jan 27
Douggie a certain starter. No hope at all for this game.

Gcon added 09:13 - Jan 27
Navistog. What else is he going to say? He's doing what he can on a relegation budget. Under the circumstances Tom Lawrence has proven to be a great solution, albeit a temporary one. Blame the owner not the manager when it comes down to the lack of financial support.

ClausThomsen added 09:47 - Jan 27
How is McCarthy not sacked yet?

Our chairman is beyond a pussy

TR11BLU added 09:50 - Jan 27
Shut up and get out Dino

brian_a_mul added 09:52 - Jan 27
Maybe the Hugill transfer speculation is a clever ploy by MM to unsettle Preston and Hugill in advance of this game :) Nullify their threat up front and it makes life a bit easier for our defense!

Well done MM on a tactical masterclass

positivity added 09:54 - Jan 27
if we're going 3-5-2, why not play lawrence as the attacking midfielder, with didzy and pitman ahead of him?

PJewellisaGod added 09:54 - Jan 27
My guess is:
Spence, Chambers, Berra, Digby, Knudsen
Douglas , Skuse, Diagorogoa

Notice Best is on the bench.

ClausThomsen added 10:20 - Jan 27
He's "hoping" that the tough run will bring the best out of his players, because he hasn't got a clue how to do that anymore.

runningout added 10:27 - Jan 27
Emmanuel needs games to flourish... All the squad know how hard this league is, but still they fade in games. When the idea is to punish the opposition for 95 minutes. Not get a nose bleed at 1 or 2 up

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