|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 Blackburn Rovers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
McCarthy: I Hope Barnsley Stay Up But They'll Get No Favours Tonight
Tuesday, 10th Apr 2018 10:15
Town boss Mick McCarthy says he hopes his hometown club Barnsley will ultimately secure Championship survival this season but insists they won’t get any favours when they visit Portman Road this evening.
The South Yorkshiremen, with whom McCarthy started his playing career, are currently 22nd, two points off Bolton ahead of them but with a better goal difference and a game in hand.
They make the trip to Suffolk having followed a 2-2 home draw with Bristol City with a 3-2 victory over another play-off challenger, Sheffield United, at Oakwell on Saturday.
McCarthy expects this season’s relegation battle to go right to the wire: “I think so. And it could be somebody who just thinks they’ve got out of it and are safe that goes down because at this time there are always some strange results, somebody always pulls one out.
“I remember in our first season here at Easter [in 2013] when we went to Millwall and drew one-all and I was walking off with TC, ‘Good result that, TC. Horrible game but a good result’.
“Everybody else had won and we ended up three points clear of the drop and we had Leicester coming here. And we beat Leicester and suddenly we were six points clear.
“But, wow, there were some crazy results. If we’d won, everybody else had won. You could never seem to get away. And I think it’ll probably will [be the same again].
“And that year I think it went down to the last knockings, was it Peterborough went down at Palace with 50-something points? It was ridiculous. It’s not going to be that number of points, of course, but that was tough.”
Regarding Barnsley having a game in hand, he added: “A nice easy one, Forest away! If you’re the top team and you’ve got games in hand you think you can win them. If you’re the bottom team, it just means it’s another game coming round and it’s going to be tough.
“But it’s funny, all the teams around them will think Barnsley will win that game.”
McCarthy says his friends back in Barnsley will be happy even if the Tykes stay up by the skin of their teeth before rebuilding again in the summer using cash provided by the consortium - which includes Nice owner Chien Lee and baseball pioneer Billy Beane - that took over at the end of last year.
“I’m sure they’ll take fourth bottom, bearing in mind they were taken over and supposedly had a cash injection,” McCarthy said.
“They’ve just got to stay up. I’m not talking to my pals about it, they’ve just got to stay up.
“Fourth bottom will suit them fine, however they do it, by one goal, it doesn’t matter, just stay in the league, and I hope they do. But I won’t be offering them any favours, I can assure you.”
McCarthy has confirmed that he will leave Portman Road at the end of the season but has no plans to retire and said last week he aims to stay in management for many years to come. Would he fancy a return home as Barnsley boss at some point?
“I’m going to leave this job and I’ll wait and see what is offered to me,” he said. “When a job becomes available and somebody asks me to go and be interviewed or speak to them, then I’ll see whether I fancy it, will consider it and will go and talk to them, and if I don’t I won’t.
“Just like they’ll do when they’re looking at managers, they’ll have a look at them. I’ll just do exactly the same. I’ve not got no desires or designs [about] going anywhere [specific], no.”
Bartosz Bialkowski will again be in goal for the Blues, who are 14th and without a win in their last six games anywhere and also their last six at home.
However, McCarthy will be forced into changes in his defence with both skipper Luke Chambers and Adam Webster set to miss out due to injury.
That’s likely to see the Blues switch to a four-man backline with Jonas Knudsen probably joining Cameron Carter-Vickers at the heart of the defence with Myles Kenlock at left-back and Jordan Spence on the right.
If McCarthy opts to stick with the back three which has become familiar in recent months then Barry Cotter, who joined from Limerick in January, will make his Blues debut, but the 19-year-old seems more likely to be among the subs.
Cole Skuse will return to the side and will wear the captain’s armband in Chambers’s absence and McCarthy could opt for a three-man midfield with Callum Connolly and Luke Hyam or Grant Ward joining the vice-captain.
Alternatively, Ward could be on the right of a front three along with Martyn Waghorn, who will play down the middle, and Bersant Celina, Mustapha Carayol or perhaps Ben Folami, who would be making his full league debut, also candidates for the wider roles.
In addition to Cotter and Folami, striker Ben Morris and French defender Chris Goteni were also left out of the U23s squad which lost 4-3 to Hull City yesterday and one or both could be on the bench this evening.
For Barnsley, defender Matt Mills is out with an ankle problem, and forward Mamadou Thiam and full-back Dani Pinillos remain sidelined after suffering knocks in training, along with goalkeeper Nick Townsend, who is out for the season with a broken hand.
The Tykes' Portuguese boss Jose Morais says his side are now the masters of their own destiny after the victory over the Blades.
“I believe that everything is in our hands and it depends on the way we think,” he told the Barnsley official website.
“I want the players to have this belief because this is the reality. I really believe we can win and that this is a massive opportunity for us to be remarkable.
“Last week we had seven games to play with 21 points to do; now we have six games to play with 18 points to achieve and I really believe we can win 18 points in six games. We will play the next game and the goal is to win.
“I understand that their [Ipswich’s] goals in the league are probably achieved in terms of staying in the league and they can’t reach the play-offs.
“Our focus isn’t in what they have to play, but in what we want to play and achieve. What we want is higher than any desire of anyone else.”
Historically, Town have done well against the South Yorkshiremen, winning 23 games between the sides (22 in the league), drawing 10 (10) and losing 13 (11).
When the teams met at Oakwell in August, half-time subs David McGoldrick and Waghorn scored the goals which saw Town come from a goal behind to win 2-1.
Tom Bradshaw put the Tykes in front in the 15th minute but after a reshuffle at the break, McGoldrick volleyed home an equaliser on 53 and league debutant Waghorn sealed the three points in the 70th minute as Town recorded three wins in their opening three games of a season for the first time since 2002/03.
The sides moste recently met at Portman Road on the opening day of last season when half-time sub Ward became the first Town player to score a hat-trick on his debut since Colin Viljoen in March 1967 as the Blues beat the Tykes 4-2.
The then-recent signing from Spurs netted with his first touch seconds after coming on at the break, made it 2-1 after ex-Blue Conor Hourihane had equalised for the visitors, then added the fourth to seal it after McGoldrick had converted a penalty and Marley Watkins had added a second for the South Yorkshiremen.
Blues boss McCarthy came through the ranks at Oakwell, making his senior debut in 1977 and went on to make 314 appearances, scoring 10 goals, before leaving for Manchester City in 1983, having been part of a side which had climbed from the Fourth to the Second Division.
Keeper Bialkowski spent on month on loan at Barnsley from Southampton in September and October 2009, making two appearances.
Town fitness coach Andy Liddell was a Barnsley player between 1991 and 1998, also having come through the Tykes’ youth system. Town scout Ian 'Taff' Evans played alongside McCarthy at Oakwell from 1979 until 1983.
Striker Kieffer Moore left Portman Road to join Barnsley for a fee understood to be £750,000 in January after a successful loan spell at Rotherham, where he scored 13 times, in the first half of the season.
Moore, who had joined the Blues from Forest Green Rovers for £20,000 in January 2017, had made 11 sub appearances without scoring for Town during the second half of last season. He has scored three times in 11 starts and three sub appearances for the Tykes.
Barnsley signed former Blues loanee Zeki Fryers last summer, the former Crystal Palace full-back having made two starts and one sub appearance for Town during a loan spell late in the 2014/15 season.
Tonight’s referee is James Linington from Newport Isle-of-Wight, who has shown 127 yellow cards and five red in 36 games so far this season.
Linington’s most recent Town match was the 4-3 win at Millwall in August in which he booked Dominic Iorfa, Luke Chambers, Grant Ward and Joe Garner as well as two home players.
He was also in charge during the 3-1 defeat at Cardiff in March last year in which he booked only Christophe Berra and Brett Pitman.
Prior to that he was the referee in the 3-2 home victory over Blackburn two months earlier in which he booked Andre Dozzell and Tom Lawrence and awarded Rovers a penalty when Adam Webster tangled with Hope Akpan which was converted by Danny Graham.
Linington refereed the 2-1 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday in August 2015 in which he booked Jonathan Douglas and Ryan Fraser and two of the visitors.
Before that he officiated in the 3-2 home win against Blackpool April 2015 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Earlier in the 2014/15 season he was the man in the middle for 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.
Squad from: Bialkowski, M Crowe, Spence, Kenlock, Knudsen, Carter-Vickers, Cotter, Goteni, Skuse (c), Connolly, Hyam, Bru, Gleeson, Nydam, Ward, Celina, Carayol, Waghorn, Sears, Folami, Morris.
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