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Ipswich Town 1 v 3 Bristol City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 30th September 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Town Look to Continue Tuesday's Blistering Form Against Bristol City
Friday, 29th Sep 2017 17:14

Boss Mick McCarthy looks set to name the team which hammered Sunderland 5-2 on Tuesday as Town look to continue their blistering form against Bristol City at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.

McCarthy’s Blues were rampant as they tore the struggling Wearsiders apart on an evening which will live long in fans' memories.

Despite sixth-placed Town playing their third game in eight days the Blues boss seems certain to stick with the same XI against the Robins, who are a point and a place behind his team.

“That’s the dilemma, isn’t it?” McCarthy said. “Change the team, put some fresh legs in, it doesn’t work and I’m a chump.

“Leave the team as it is, which is what everybody would expect me to do after Tuesday night, that doesn’t work and I’ll be asked the question, ‘Do you think you should have put some fresh legs in?’. So, you’ll see at 2pm on Saturday on the teamsheet.

“What’s nice is that the lads who are in the team are playing well and the others are busting a gut to get in, and as we’ve seen, the subs have come on and they’ve all contributed.”

McCarthy bristled when asked whether he has always wanted his team to play the type of high intensity, exhilarating football they played on Tuesday.

“It irks me slightly that I keep being asked this question as if we’ve been hopeless for five years,” he said. “I’ve been here for five years, if we’d been hopeless I wouldn’t have been here that long.

“We had a bad season last season, we lost our star striker at the start of it and it wasn’t good and we ended up having a scrap.

“But pretty much other than that we’ve been, certainly high intensity and certainly got after teams and certainly when we finished in the top six [in 2014/15] we were very good.

“Every club, every manager, every team wants to play football of a high intensity, good quality and everybody enjoyed it the other night and I hope we can do it again. And again and again and again and again. We’ll see won’t we?”

Only 14,907 fans watched Tuesday’s match but the performance and the result are likely to encourage back at least some of this season’s stay-away supporters, although McCarthy is quick to point out that the Sunderland display was no flash in the pan.

“It’s not just happened,” he insisted. “We’ve played well this season, we’re the league’s top scorers [on 19]. My disappointment is that we’ve conceded a few as well and we’ve not got the best goal difference.

“That needs to be sorted out, certainly conceding from corners, I didn’t like that on Tuesday night. But I loved the way the lads played and I thought it was an excellent performance and we could have had more.”

McCarthy admits that his team are unlikely to play like that all the time, certainly not away from home: “Probably not, not every week, I don’t think so.

“I don’t think Newcastle did, I don’t think Brighton did, I don’t think Huddersfield did. Huddersfield came here, and they were one of the best footballing teams last season, and they barely had a shot at our goal because of the way we played.

“And if I could find the answer to home and away football, why you play much better or not, I’m packing this job in and I’ll make zillions and I won’t be speaking to you again only to say how happy I am that I’m in the sun somewhere spending my dosh.

“I saw it against Fulham, against a good team when I had all the strikers on the pitch and it didn’t work. It wasn’t right and they picked a hole in us. But not every team is as good as Fulham and I think there was a bit more balance to us on Tuesday as well.”

But he is confident his front four - Joe Garner playing ahead of Bersant Celina, David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn - are capable of giving any Championship defence a tough afternoon.

“They were very good, they were excellent,” he said, looking back at the Sunderland game. “They are good players. It’s not always that all four good players play well together.

“But they did on Tuesday and have done before, they did when Freddie Sears was in instead of Bersant at Millwall, and a couple of other games.

“But Tuesday night was exceptional, they were very, very good. I can’t do any more, it’s how they play. They turn up, they’ve had the performance on Tuesday night, we’ve trained today, you hope and pray when you set the team up that if that front four are playing that they’re going to be exactly the same again.

“But don't forget, Bristol City will have done their analysis, they’ll have had a look at them and they’ll be thinking, ‘How can we stop them?’.”

McCarthy has been impressed with the way the Robins have started the campaign: “Excellent, a good result against Norwich [last Saturday's 0-0 draw at Carrow Road]. I think they’re unbeaten in eight in the league, they’re a good side. We’ve watched a few of their games.

“They’ve got a good balance to them, they’re 4-4-2 but their wingers will come and play on the inside and they’re lively up front and Bobby Reid’s knocking in the goals. I think the two strikers have got 10 between them, so they’re pretty prolific up front as well.”

Bristol City, who beat Bolton 2-0 on Tuesday, lost last season’s 26-goal top scorer Tammy Abraham when he returned to his parent club Chelsea before joining Swansea on loan ahead of the start of 2017/18, but McCarthy says it’s no surprise to him that they’ve not missed the England U21 international during the opening couple of months of this campaign.

“Not really, they went and spent how many million quid [£5.3 million] on the centre forward that they brought in, Famara Diedhiou? Bobby Reid’s a very good player that’s come through their academy.

“And Diedhiou is very, very good, he’s scoring goals. They’ve done a fair bit of recruitment and spent a few quid.”

The Blues boss was pleased to see City stick with young manager Lee Johnson, despite a tough spell last season and sees parallels with his own recent history at Town.

“They finished quite well, but they had a tough time earlier in the season,” he recalled. “Maybe people are thinking that about me, an old fart, not a young promising manager.

“You’d have all got shot of me last year, and that would have been a wrong decision looking at that now, so maybe Lee and I are in the same boat.”

McCarthy believes clubs across the Championship will have taken notice of Tuesday’s result and performance, although earlier displays won’t have been overlooked.

“I would think so, of course,” he said. “We go to Leeds and we know they’ve been playing well, they were top of the league and if anybody’s going to play Cardiff at the minute they’ll all be going, ‘Oo, it’s Cardiff’.

“And we’ve got Bristol City, who are unbeaten, they’re the same. They’re only a point behind us in the league, they’re having a good season.

“I don’t think the fact that it was 5-2 suddenly starts ringing all these alarm bells, I think we’ve played well all season and anybody knows coming here that it’s going to be a tough game anyway.”

McCarthy says Saturday’s match will be a different one from Tuesday’s: “It’s a test for us to play the same and play as well again against a team that’s having a better season than the last team that we played.

“It’s a test for us to replicate that. Nothing to do with them, it’s how we play, can we have the same energy and intensity and same quality.”

He added: “It always matters about the opposition. While we would still respect the opposition, we’ve done the analysis on them, we’ll still want to stop them playing, but it’s about whether we can do it again.

“And that’s what we want to try and do, play as well again. Without worrying about the opposition, concentrate on us playing as well as we’ve done.”

At the start of the season the likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough were the bookies’ favourites but none of them are currently in the top six.

However, McCarthy believes that’s likely to change the longer the season progresses: “Are you going to start backing against them? Villa have just won three on the bounce.

“Everybody knows they’re playing against really good teams, I think. I’ve said in the past that it inspires us. We had a month last year when we had a tough time here and then we were playing Villa away, Brighton, Leeds and I said, ‘Don’t worry about that month, that’ll be fine’. And it was, it was probably the best month we had.

“Sometimes it’s hard for the better teams when everybody is wound up to play against them and they’re saying, ‘Right, we’ve got Middlesbrough, Derby or Norwich’ or whoever it might be that’s got parachute payments. They’re all ready for them and it can be tough.

“But as the season goes on over 46 games, they start to find their form, they start to find their shape, their balance and they become better. So I won’t be thinking that all of a sudden those teams won’t be in the mix, because I think they will.”

The second international break of the season follows Saturday’s game and McCarthy wants to go into the two-week hiatus having recorded what would be the Blues' seventh win in 10 Championship matches.

“Obviously it would be nice to put this result to bed, but it’s going to be a tough one for us,” he continued. “It’s always nice to go into an international break of a couple of weeks with a win, you don’t want to be festering on it.

“But Bristol City will be thinking the same, of course. There are a few internationals who are going away but we’ll have a break.”

McCarthy is again set to start with Bartosz Bialkowski in goal, Dominic Iorfa at right-back, Jonas Knudsen at left-back and skipper Luke Chambers and Jordan Spence at the heart of the defence.

In midfield, Cole Skuse and Tom Adeyemi will play the anchor roles with Celina, McGoldrick and Waghorn ahead of them and Garner the lone out-and-out striker.

Adam Webster, who has been out since the Carabao Cup match at Luton with an ankle injury, and Dean Gerken, who missed out on Tuesday with a hip problem, will be back among the subs.

Bristol City have gone 12 games at Portman Road since their last win which came back in September 1978.

Manager Johnson recalls their heaviest defeat in that time, a 6-0 hammering in 2007/08, during his time as a player with the Robins.

“It was my job to provide the music in the dressing room and the pre-match inspiration,” he told Bristol City’s official website.

“I decided to go a bit leftfield at Ipswich and play Nessun Dorma. We got thumped 6-0, Bradley Orr got a red card and we were playing in slow motion. I was quite swiftly moved from music duties!”

City travelled to East Anglia earlier than is usually the case, Johnson revealed: “We decided we would travel on the Thursday evening. We’ve got full use of Colchester United’s training ground on Friday, while they use Failand [the Robins’ training ground] ahead of their match with Yeovil.”

Reflecting on Town, he added: “Ipswich are a good side in good form, just like ourselves. Mick is a wily old cat who has recruited well over the summer to add to the quality already in his squad.”

Bristol City, who are unbeaten in 10 in all competitions - eight in the league - and have lost only once in the Championship this season, will be without midfielder Marlon Pack, who is suspended having already amassed five bookings, as well as the injured Milan Djuric (groin), Eros Pisano and Gary O’Neil (both knee).

Historically, Town have the edge, winning 29 (27 in the league), losing 20 (20) and drawing 13 (13).

At Portman Road in December last year, a brilliant Brett Pitman overhead kick four minutes from time against his old club saw Town to a 2-1 victory over the Robins.

Kevin Bru gave the Blues a 1-0 half-time lead, but the visitors hit back through on-loan striker Abraham seven minutes after the restart before Pitman’s superb strike sealed what was a much-needed home win for Town.

At Ashton Gate earlier in the same month a Lee Tomlin penalty and a goal of the season contender from Luke Freeman saw Bristol City to a 2-0 victory.

Tomlin converted from the spot after Bialkowski had been adjudged to have fouled Abraham in the 31st minute, then Freeman smashed home a volley on 72 to seal the three points with McGoldrick having come closest for Town when he hit the post earlier in the second half.

Skuse moved to the Blues from his hometown club, who he had joined as a schoolboy, following their relegation in the summer of 2013 after making 245 starts and 62 sub appearances, and scoring nine times.

Keeper Dean Gerken also left Ashton Gate the same summer, joining the Blues after a trial during pre-season ahead of 2013/14, having made 60 appearances for the Robins after signing from Colchester in July 2009.

Blues defender Jordan Spence spent two spells on loan with the Robins, a two-month stint at the end of the 2010/11 season and then the whole of the following campaign at Ashton Gate. In total he made 21 starts and one sub appearance without scoring. Town assistant manager Terry Connor played for the Robins between 1991 and 1993.

City boss Johnson, a close friend of Skuse from their playing days together at Ashton Gate, was born in Suffolk during his father Gary’s time as a player with Newmarket Town.

Saturday’s referee is Simon Hooper from Wiltshire, who has shown 26 yellow cards and one red in 10 games so far this season.

Hooper’s most recent Town game was the 1-1 draw at home to Preston in January 2016 when he showed yellow cards to Brett Pitman and three Lilywhites.

In the preceding September he took charge of the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United i in which he booked only Jonny Parr.

Prior to that he refereed the Blues’ 2-0 home victory over Burnley at Portman Road in August in which he yellow-carded visitors’ winger Michael Kightly and no one else.

Hooper also officiated in the 1-0 defeat at Reading in August last season in which he booked Tyrone Mings, Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra and two home players.

He also took control of the 1-0 win at Yeovil the previous season and the 3-0 home win against Crystal Palace in April 2013.

Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Iorfa, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Spence, Chambers, Webster, Skuse, Adeyemi, Bru, Nydam, Ward, Celina, Garner, Sears, McGoldrick, Waghorn.

Photo: TWTD

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carlo88 added 17:29 - Sep 29
I like Mick. I liked him for the first few years, didn't like him so much last season but like him again now. I think what I thought two years ago, with our current owner we're lucky to have him.

Just a shame he doesn't seem to like us so much anymore.

irishtim added 17:31 - Sep 29
For all who slate MM. Think. Came into a club in turmoil. Saved us. Fair enough footie poor but resources not great either. Best thing he did was bringing Bryan Klug back. Now we are seeing how great a judgement that was. Now this season with some youth and a little investement maybe just maybe we can challenge for promotion.

Mark added 17:50 - Sep 29
The bookies have Bristol City as clear favourites to win tomorrow, which feels very odd given how confident we are but perhaps is a measure of how tough the match may be. It would be brilliant to win it, especially going into the international break. October will be a tough month with the only home fixture being Norwich, so 3 points tomorrow would be most welcome. COYB!

dirtydingusmagee added 17:51 - Sep 29
hope he does stick to the team that beat Sunderland, we are at home with players that can and are scoring goals,we should be positive and go for it . coyb

dingus added 18:08 - Sep 29
Why isn't Nydam listed in the squad?

Lathers added 18:08 - Sep 29
We are 2/1 to win tomorrow... crazy really. Underdog mentality isn't a bad thing to have.

carlo88 added 18:25 - Sep 29
I really cannot understand why Bristol City are 7/5 to win tomorrow and we're 11/5 at most bookies.

muccletonjoe added 18:26 - Sep 29
Some of the comments from their supporters should be all our lads need before the game

ITFCGloryDays added 18:58 - Sep 29
“Maybe people are thinking that about me, an old fart, not a young promising manager. You’d have all got shot of me last year, and that would have been a wrong decision looking at that now, so maybe Lee and I are in the same boat.”

He can’t resist can he.

PhilTWTD added 20:16 - Sep 29

Oversight on my part. Added.

blueboy1981 added 22:06 - Sep 29
....... dream on some of you - MM will never have any feeling for this Club, or Supporters.

He is only interested in what's in it for him - in fact I would suggest he has complete contempt for every single one of us. He never misses an opportunity to have a 'pop' - which is all the proof most should want.

So - please don't see him as some messiah. Let's just keep attacking - and winning.

StirlingArcher added 22:33 - Sep 29
When we're doing well, he's telling the TRUTH... and you're still slating him.

wonder why he comes across as not liking you?

TimmyH added 23:17 - Sep 29
Yeah strange the bookies have Bristol as favourites (by a small margin) - like to know the reasoning behind that?...fancy it will be a different game tomorrow than Tuesday's and fancy it might end up in our first draw of the season.

On the McCarthy reign other than this season it has been downhill ever since New Year 2015 and the first half of the play-off season we were playing some good stuff but the 2nd half of that season was mixed and then in my view the management and board got lazy until the disgruntlement of the supporters last season which hopefully gave everybody a wake up call...hopefully we'll reap the dividends from that, and looks like MM has bought astutely over this summer.

SheptonMalletBlue added 00:02 - Sep 30
Just go for it you Dino, attack attack attack attack attack!!!!!!!

Sospiri added 00:10 - Sep 30
I can hardly bear to watch these press conferences. Mick gets grumpy, defensive, offended, self-righteous. He reminds me of David Brent sometimes. He might be an experienced manager, but it would be great to have someone young and positive and open to difficult questions as our leader.

Rensham added 03:28 - Sep 30
The reason we're not favourites is because we only beat Sunderland. And we haven't beaten anyone in the top half of the table yet. Please stop the press conferences, he hasn't anything interesting to say.

Swn98 added 08:54 - Sep 30
Rendham don't watch them then, why deny people that enjoy watching them the opportunity.
Blueboy I would imagine we are roughly the same age do you really think Mm doesn't want the fans on side he wants to win as much as we the fans do.
Drag yourself into the new century and stop comparing everything to the seventies early eighties that we were lucky enough to witness.

chrishants added 09:07 - Sep 30
I see no reason for town not to win this game. However Captain Chambers & his defenders must not go AWOL as far as Flint is concerned

BuckieBlue added 09:38 - Sep 30
League's top scorers, second least points dropped so far- who's this new manager!

Dissboyitfc added 09:47 - Sep 30
SWN98... if he thinks having a snipe gets people on side, he is very much mistaken!

We all remember the 70' and 80' and we dont expect that, what we want is to be entertained with attacking football. That is something that over 5 years in the main has sadly been missing, big time. How many times has he put a team out to attack attack attack ? he hasn't he goes for defend defend defend. Its boring mind numbing expensive rubbish. Even in cup games against against lower league opposition in cups he hasn't done it and we lose being cautious. It needs a lot more games like Tuesday for people to forget the defensive long ball rubbish he has served up and is famous for!

And dont forget the lofty positions achieved were down to Murphy getting a load of goals in a style that was and only can be described as hoofball. Just because we win it doesn't make great entertainment. As i have said before if entertainment doesn't matter people will stay at home listen to the radio and watch highlights. For MM to claim he always sets up to win is bull, he hasnt, far from it. MM would accept a draw in 9 out 10 games.

Lets give it a little longer before declaring him the Messiah, shall we!

keighleyblue added 09:54 - Sep 30
well said Swn98

Rensham added 10:03 - Sep 30
Well said SWN98, lets stop free speech. Only pro-messiah comments and let MM rubbish the paying public week in, week out.

bobble added 10:18 - Sep 30
“I saw it against Fulham, against a good team when I had all the strikers on the pitch and it didn’t work. It wasn’t right and they picked a hole in us. But not every team is as good as Fulham and I think there was a bit more balance to us on Tuesday as well.”........................but fulham are 4 places behind us and have played 2 more games than us ! what the hell is mick on about ?....

bobble added 10:18 - Sep 30
“I saw it against Fulham, against a good team when I had all the strikers on the pitch and it didn’t work. It wasn’t right and they picked a hole in us. But not every team is as good as Fulham and I think there was a bit more balance to us on Tuesday as well.”........................but fulham are 4 places behind us and have played 2 more games than us ! what the hell is mick on about ?....

Swn98 added 10:37 - Sep 30
Rensham you miss the point you quiet clearly stated the press conference coverage should stop i suppose because you dont like what you hear well dont listen then there are plenty of people who enjoy them and like to discuss them.

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