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McCarthy Looking for Blues to Build on Birmingham Win at Luton
Monday, 7th Aug 2017 17:37
Boss Mick McCarthy is looking for his Blues side to build on Saturday’s 1-0 opening-day victory over Birmingham City at Portman Road when they take on League Two Luton in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday evening (KO 7.45pm).
Town have a dismal record in cup competitions under McCarthy - they were beaten 1-0 at home by another League Two side, Stevenage, this time last season - but the Blues manager dismissed suggestions that he saw the tie as a hindrance.
“Not really, I want to go and win it because we had a really awful week, not an awful week, we had an awful result at Charlton, the week was all right, it was the usual,” he reflected.
“But we had a really good performance on Saturday and an excellent result. But it’s only the start, it’s nice to get off with three points in your first home game.
“It wasn’t perfect but it was near-on what you could have wished for, a 1-0 win at home on the first day of the season.”
That result and the performance went some way towards building bridges with fans, who made their frustrations regarding last season’s struggles and the 6-1 friendly defeat at Charlton very clear. McCarthy wants to add to that positivity and take some momentum into Saturday’s first Championship away game at his hometown club Barnsley.
“That is important to me and it’s certainly relevant because we’ve not really done well in the Carabao Cup but we’re going to have to play well up there, they’ve played great,” he said.
“Nathan Jones was the U21s manager at Charlton and I’ve always admired the way his teams play, they play a diamond. He gets them playing well, he was at Brighton with Chris Hughton for a while.
“He had a good season last season and they narrowly missed out in the play-offs and they’ve started great, so it'll be a really tough game for us that one. But it would be nice to have back-to-back wins.”
He has watched the Hatters’ weekend 8-2 hammering of Yeovil, who he didn’t realisetook the lead early on.
“They were brilliant,” he said. “I started to watch the game, Gerard Nash went to watch it live, our U23s coach, and Yeovil went in front. I said, ‘I didn’t know they scored first!’.
“Against the run of play, by the way, it was like the Alamo and then Yeovil scored and they were excellent, Luton. They were very, very good. And if we don’t get about them and stop them playing, they’ll be a difficult team to stop.”
The prospect of a second round tie later in the month has an added bonus of potentially giving some of the players who have been ill and injured a competitive match as they continue their recoveries.
“Absolutely, if they’re coming back and they start training, that will be a game that [they could play in],” he said.
“I really need to get Emyr Huws back and to see Tom Adeyemi. I think they’re two good signings for the club.
“Certainly Emyr we’ve seen him, he was arguably our best player along with Tom Lawrence, and it would be great to have him back and to see Tom and we need a fully fit squad.”
McCarthy admits he doesn’t have too many fond memories of Luton from time as a player: “Horrible my days playing there. I remember playing against Brian Horton and those boys when they’d won the league [the 1981/82 Second Division title] and we had to give them a guard of honour onto the pitch.
“I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to give anybody a guard of honour when I was 18. I hated everybody then. It’s only certain people now. We had to stand and clap them onto pitch, it was just not me at all. So that was one.
“I played on the plastic pitch, I came back from Lyon and made my debut for Millwall on that plastic pitch. That wasn't good either.
“I’ve had a mixed bag there, to be fair. I've had results as a manager there. With Wolves we went down there and won.
“But it’s a tough place to play. Just the nature of the stadium, the fans are right on top of you.
“It’s a great football stadium. I don’t know what crowd it holds, not that many, but you always get an unbelievable atmosphere there.
“And it will be tomorrow night having won 8-2 at the weekend, I would have thought they’ll be selling tickets by the handful.”
McCarthy gave little away regarding his starting line-up at his press conference aside from confirming that David McGoldrick would start up front and Bersant Celina would make his debut in midfield.
Dean Gerken is almost certain to be in goal with Myles Kenlock perhaps replacing Jonas Knudsen at left-back in what seems likely to be a return to a back four.
Dominic Iorfa looks set to be at right-back with Jordan Spence a big doubt with a knee injury, while Adam Webster will make his first start since January alongside skipper Luke Chambers at the centre of the defence with Tommy Smith expected to be rested after complaining of a stiff back following Saturday's match.
In midfield, Celina is likely to start on the left with Flynn Downes perhaps handed his full debut in the middle, probably alongside Cole Skuse.
McCarthy may want to hand Tristan Nydam his senior bow, however, the Blues boss won’t start with 18-year-old Downes partnering the similarly inexperienced Nydam if he opts to go with a central two. Nydam, 17, may well be given his debut as a sub if he doesn't start.
Danny Rowe could be in the running for the right-sided role if he is over the illness which was hampering him last week with Grant Ward set to miss out having taken a kick to the calf at the weekend.
Up front, new signing Martyn Waghorn looks likely to partner McGoldrick if his international clearance has come through in time.
Youngsters such as Adam McDonnell, Monty Patterson, Pat Webber, Conor McKendry, Shane McLoughlin and George Fowler will probably be drafted into the squad to cover for the absence of Spence, Smith, Ward and Andre Dozzell, who will find out the extent of his knee injury this evening.
Luton boss Nathan Jones was delighted with the weekend thrashing of Yeovil, the Hatters’ biggest ever opening-day victory, but says they’re not going to let the result go to their heads.
“It’s a pleasing result on the weekend,” he told Luton’s official website. “It’s important we don’t get carried away with anything.
“We are very focused on what we have to do. We knew we played very well, we knew we were stronger than we were last year and it showed. But it’s one result and we move on.
“It’s a freakish result in terms of scoring eight. You don’t envisage doing that. We’ve created a similar amount of chances in other games and drew the game, so I think we showed a real clinical edge.
“We won’t get carried away and we aren’t under-playing it either. It was a fantastic performance and it was a clinical display of finishing, and we are pleased with that.
“But we realise that all games are different, we’ve got an even sterner test tomorrow night and what we can’t do is start believing the hype.”
Jones, whose side beat Aston Villa 3-1 at the same stage at Kenilworth Road last year, before a narrow 1-0 exit to Leeds at home in the second round, says he’ll make changes to his team for the game against the Blues: “We’ve got a run of games coming up where we’ll use the squad and everyone will get game time.
“Everyone has to stay focused, the problem for me at the minute is, one, keeping everyone’s feet on the ground and, two, keeping everyone happy.
“With the competition we have here, it’s about making sure everyone’s focused, that’s my first concern and then we come up against a very good Championship side run by a very experienced manager [Mick McCarthy], so we know it will be a very tough test.
“I doubt it will be exactly the same side, we might be forced in one or two things, but we’ll be very strong.
“We’re treating this with the utmost respect, we had a wonderful result last year, two fantastic games in the competition against Championship sides and we’re looking forward to testing ourselves again.”
Midfielder Lawson D’Ath, striker Danny Hylton and defender James Justin are Luton’s only injury absentees.
Keeper Marek Stech will be available for the Hatters despite taking a blow to the face during the Yeovil game in which he saved a penalty.
Town have been given an allocation of 1,500 allocation tickets for Tuesday’s game, which is all-ticket for Blues supporters.
The Blues and the League Two Hatters have previously been drawn together in the League Cup on two occasions.
In November 1987 John Duncan's Town were beaten 1-0 at Portman Road in the fourth round of what was then known as the Littlewoods Cup with Brian Stein on target. The Hatters went on to win the trophy that season.
Luton were also victorious in a two-legged second round tie between the sides in September 1998, winning the Kenilworth Road match 4-2 - David Johnson and home defender Sol Davis netting for Town and Andrew Fotiadis, Stuart Douglas, Davis at the right end and Marvin Johnson for the Hatters - after George Burley's Town had won 2-1 at Portman Road when Manu Thetis and James Scowcroft were on the scoresheet for the Blues.
Overall, Town have won 11 games (eight in the league) between the sides, Luton 12 (nine) with five (three) having ended in draws.
The teams most recently met in a pre-season friendly in July 2012 at Kenilworth Road when then-Conference Luton ran out 2-0 winners, defender Janos Kovacs heading a goal in each half.
The last competitive game between the teams was back in March 2007 when goals from Alan Lee and Matt Richards saw the Blues to a 2-0 win at Kenilworth Road.
Earlier that season Lee had grabbed his only Town hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of the Hatters at Portman Road, Sylvain Legwinski and Jaime Peters having netted earlier goals.
Luton keeper Stech, who had a trial with the Blues early in the 2011/12 campaign, but no one who has featured in a first-team game for the Blues, while no current Town players has been with the Hatters.
Last year Town were beaten 1-0 at home in the first round by League Two Stevenage, who they faced in the opening round in three of the previous four seasons.
If the game is level after 90 minutes it will go to extra-time with penalties - using the newly introduced ABBA format - following if the scores remain tied.
Tuesday’s referee is Andy Haines from Tyne and Wear, who showed 113 yellow cards and five red in 37 games last season. On Saturday he took charge of Swindon’s 2-1 win at Carlisle in League One and booked four players.
His last Town match was the 2-0 win at Blackpool in October 2014 in which he cautioned only Luke Hyam.
Haines also reffed the after-extra-time 1-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Crawley Town two months previously in which he yellow-carded three home players as well as Elliott Hewitt, Matt Clarke, Kevin Bru and Alex Henshall.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in October 2013 when he booked Tommy Smith and one Owl.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Iorfa, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers, Webster, Fowler, Webber, Skuse, Downes, Nydam, Celina, Rowe, McDonnell, McKendry, Garner, Waghorn, Sears, McGoldrick, Patterson, McLoughlin.
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