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Ipswich Town 1 v 1 Sunderland
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 18th December 2021 Kick-off 15:00
McGreal: No Doubt the Guys Will Be Galvanised
Friday, 17th Dec 2021 16:11

Interim boss John McGreal believes the Town squad will be galvanised by new manager Kieran McKenna’s presence among the 29,000-plus crowd at Portman Road on Saturday as they take on Sunderland. McGreal will be in charge of the Blues for his fourth and final match but for the first time at home.

Town go into the match, the first of the successful #PackOutPR campaign, off the back of Wednesday’s embarrassing 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Barrow, but having recorded an impressive 1-1 draw away against League One’s second-placed side Wigan a week ago.

McGreal, like former manager Paul Cook, has highlighted the team's inconsistency and as such wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Blues followed up the dismal display at Holker Street with a victory over the Black Cats, who after a recent resurgence are up to third, behind the Latics on goal difference alone.

“No, I wouldn’t,” he reflected. “I said that at Barrow, the inconsistency levels have been there. There have been a few false dawns.

“I think now it’s a great game to have tomorrow. It’s going to be a brilliant occasion, but most importantly there are three points at stake and we need to get the win.

“I’m not saying anything apart from there’ll be a performance because the inconsistency levels have been there, we’ve been up and down, we were down on Wednesday, we were down at Charlton the other week, then we put in a really good performance at Wigan.

“I’ve got no doubt that the guys will be galvanised, they’ll apply themselves in the right way and put on a strong performance tomorrow. I’ve got no question of that whatsoever.”

As well as new manager McKenna, his assistant Martyn Pent, and in excess of 29,000 supporters, some of the Blues’ US investors will also be at Portman Road giving the players numerous reasons to put on a display.

“I don’t need to add anything on top of that, you’ve literally just wrapped that up in one sentence. You’ve just done my job. Thanks!” McGreal laughed.

Sunderland were very fortunate to beat the Blues 2-0 at the Stadium of Light last month, the Blues having missed a number of chances while preventing the Wearsiders from managing a single shot on target for the first 85 minutes of the match.

Since then, the Black Cats have gone on an unbeaten run of five in League One, three wins and two draws, with manager Lee Johnson’s position previously having come into question after a six-game winless streak which included three successive League One defeats.

“The analysis guys when we’ve gone over it, we had a little look at the game and that seemed to be a little bit of a turning point for Sunderland,” McGreal said.

“I think prior to that they weren’t in the best of form and they ended up nicking that win.

“But that’s four or five weeks ago. Obviously things have changed, a lot’s changed in that time, there’s a new manager now coming in on Monday, a new manager in the stands on Saturday watching.

“So there’s nothing much you can go back on because they’re a different team totally at this moment in time. The results have helped them of late and it’s made them turn a corner, so it’s a totally different team that we will be looking at tomorrow.”

Sunderland’s recent form shows that one result can turn into a run, something the Blues desperately need if they’re to push upwards from their current position of 12th, nine points off the play-offs and 14 away from the top two, with Saturday's match marking the season's halfway point.

“Absolutely,” McGreal concurred. “Every game’s three points. If you can get that win on the board, it makes a helluva difference going into your Christmas period where they do come thick and fast in the league.

“It’s a big game tomorrow, the guys know that with the occasion, but also it’s a big three points as well and we want to try and win the game.”

McGreal was asked whether there were members of the squad who needed lifting after the disappointment at Barrow on Wednesday.

“Not overly because the guys, they’re an experienced group,” he said. “It’s not as if they’re a young group, they’re an experienced group and when you’re not performing, if you’re honest with yourself and you do know that. So there are a lot of boys at this moment in time that we’re trying to pick up and give them game-time.

“But it’s going to be a fresh start. All we’ve tried to do is keep the club moving forward and pick a team to try and get results on the pitch, but also knowing that the new manager is in the background to come in.

“It’s going to be a fresh start from everyone and what we’ve tried to do is brighten up training in a way, brighten it up around the training ground, give game-time to certain players that haven’t played, so then when the new gaffer comes in he can look across the board and see what he’s got.”

Eleven-goal top scorer Macauley Bonne will be looking to end his eight-match goal drought in front of the new boss.

“That was part and parcel of what happened the other night,” McGreal said referring to the eight changes made at Barrow.

“He’s played a lot of games, scored a lot of goals early on. We’ve had a lot of niggling injuries in and around that top area.

“Macauley’s ready to go, he’s trained really well today, if selected because there are a lot of players that we can choose from, but he seems to be in a good place, to be fair.”

Bonne seems certain to start up front, probably again in a pairing alongside James Norwood, assuming neither of them are the players who have had to pull out of the squad due to close contact with those with Covid.

In midfield, skipper Sam Morsy and Lee Evans look set to return in the centre with Sone Aluko and Conor Chaplin perhaps taking up narrow roles ahead of them. Bersant Celina is another possibility for inclusion if he is over his injury, McGreal having kept his cards close to his chest on the fitness situation.

At the back, assuming they’re available, George Edmundson and Cameron Burgess look set to be the centre-halves with McGreal again likely to use Janoi Donacien and Kane Vincent-Young as the full-backs with Christian Walton in goal.

Sunderland left-back Denver Hume is in contention for a return to the squad having been out of action since October with an ankle injury.

Another full-back, Dennis Cirkin, and midfielder Corry Evans aren’t yet ready to be involved following a double hernia operation and a quad injury respectively, while midfielder Lynden Gooch is set for a late fitness test having come off at half-time in last week’s 2-1 home victory over Plymouth with a groin problem.

Head coach Lee Johnson says Town’s management situation has made his pre-match preparation more difficult.

“It can be harder to prepare to face a team in a changeover period as Ipswich are at the moment,” he told the Black Cats official website.

“The best judgement for the future is often the past, which is why we do so much analysis, so what we’ll have to focus on is the individual players’ strengths and weaknesses, rather than so much the team unity part.

“I’ve mentioned to the players that Ipswich are billing it as a big game – their capacity is around 28,000 which they’ve been looking to sell out. Our players are used to big games, but away from home it’s a different dynamic. We want to maximise this key festive period.”

Johnson, who was born in Suffolk during his father Gary's time as a player with Newmarket Town and was Bristol City boss under Town CEO Mark Ashton, says he was happy with his side’s defending against the Blues at the Stadium of Light and says they have played more football since then.

“I was really pleased with our defensive structure when we played Ipswich at home recently. We have been more fluid on the ball lately than we were in that particular game, but the result was so important in the end,” he said.

“Ipswich have some really good players – as I called them, the ‘galacticos’ of the division. They’ve traded well and brought some players back into League One from heavy Championship experience.”

Historically, Sunderland just have the edge with Town having won 23 of the games between the teams (23 in the league) and the Wearsiders 24 (22) with eight (eight) having ended in draws.

Last month at the Stadium of Light, Town were left rueing missed chances as Sunderland struck twice late on to claim a wholly unlikely 2-0 victory.

The Blues had a number of opportunities before the Black Cats netted via Luke O’Nien on 85 and an Aiden McGeady penalty in injury time, their only shots on target, to claim the three points.

At Portman Road in January, Charlie Wyke’s goal in first-half injury time saw Sunderland to a 1-0 victory over 10-man Town, the Blues having been reduced in number early on after Kayden Jackson was red-carded.

Jackson caught Bailey Wright with a studs-high challenge in the 10th minute before Wyke’s goal from Max Power’s cross from the right won the three points for the visitors, while full debutant loanee Luke Thomas spurned Town’s best chance in the second half.

Saturday’s referee is Thomas Bramall from Sheffield, who has shown 56 yellow cards and two red in 18 games so far this season.

Bramall’s last Town game was the 2-0 home defeat to Portsmouth in December last year in which he booked Mark McGuinness, Jack Lankester and Brett McGavin as well as three of the visitors.

Prior to that his only previous Town match was the 2-0 opening day of the 2020/21 League One season victory over Wigan at Portman Road in which he booked skipper Luke Chambers and one Latic.

Squad from: Walton, Hladky, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Clements, Penney, Edmundson, Nsiala, Burgess, Woolfenden, Morsy, Evans, Harper, El Mizouni, Carroll, Fraser, Humphreys, Chaplin, Celina, Edwards, Siziba, Bonne, Pigott, Norwood, Jackson.

Photo: Pagepix

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BossMan added 16:22 - Dec 17
I reckon that crowd will push the boys on to the win that would be a such a nice way for JM to sign off. Thanks for helping out John and with any luck the blue action boys will have everyone singing your name

Bazza8564 added 16:29 - Dec 17
Desperately need three points tomorrow with the gap above having widened, and hopefully the atmosphere will gives the guys that lift

Saxonblue74 added 16:31 - Dec 17
Let's pray for a decent show. If they don't turn up for 29k, new owners, new manager and coach then they never will!

RobITFC added 16:33 - Dec 17
Sadly there won't be 29000 as many people won't be going due to Omnicron , too risky a week before Christmas and ruining that for their families.

pistolknight added 16:58 - Dec 17
Play 4-1-3-2 or 3-5-2✅
Play 2 up front Bonne & Norwood ✅
Don’t play 4-2-3-1 ❌
Don’t play Nsiala ❌
Don’t let Fraser anywhere near the Squad❌

If Fraser plays put your mortgage on Sunderland🥴

inghamspur added 17:23 - Dec 17
Can't we put McKenna in charge now? Not exactly filled with confidence with the interim arrangement when seeing the formation he put out against Barrow. 4-2-2-1-1? Does he think we're Barcelona, Man City, Bayern or something for God's sake?

BurleysGloryDays added 17:31 - Dec 17
I hope EVERYONE can breathe confidence back into the players.

We were playing the best football at the club for a decade and thrashing some teams, other teams were getting off lightly (and being rewarded for clanging individual errors).

That has all dissipated - so two things need to happen:

1) Players need us fans to get behind them, free them of fear, NOT GET ON THEIR BACKS.
2) Manager needs to get them cooking, believing in themselves again, and fighting for each other, the badge, and the fans that are SUPPORTING them.

A Bonne brace at the weekend and the fire will return. Come on Macauley, write yourself into our history.

Billysherlockblue added 17:35 - Dec 17
NO DOUBT THE LADS WILL BE GALVANISED! They should be GALVANISED for every game giving 100 per cent. Win .lose or draw. Im sick of this spin. Get off ere asses and put in some graft and guile and show us why ye became football ers. Morsy get the lads going and dont take any crap you are the skipper. COYB FOREVER

bluelodgeblue added 17:37 - Dec 17
Galvanised just like Barrow!

therein61 added 18:01 - Dec 17
In front of a full house with their new boss watching from the stand some of those so called pro's had better show what they are made of and show they want to be here and help the club progress there's still time to get in the mix but it gets shorter by the day thanks to some of them having a take the money and couldn't give a toss attitude

Gforce added 19:09 - Dec 17
We haven't won in front of a 21000 + crowd in donkeys years.But by law of averages hopefully we're due one.Fingers crossed 😀

BeethorpeAndy added 19:22 - Dec 17
I should imagine the new manager has had words on how he wants the team set up! Will he have communication with mcgreal? Tough game tomorrow and we must not lose at all cost. Come on Ipswich, show some pride and make us smile! COYB

rfretwell added 20:02 - Dec 17
Cant see us winning this one without Celina and Burns turning out. Miserable home performances largely other than v Donny.

rfretwell added 20:02 - Dec 17
Cant see us winning this one without Celina and Burns turning out. Miserable home performances largely other than v Donny.

Linkboy13 added 20:15 - Dec 17
Havn't seen the team play with any pride and passion this season apart from Wycombe thanks to the amazing support of the fans. Systems don't mean a thing unless the players are prepared to put the work in. We played two up front on Wednesday and didn't look like scoring . We still need four or five players before we can think about getting out of this league. Unfortunately most of the players we've signed hard work dosent come naturally to them. Player recruitment still isn't good enough with far too many lightweight players signed Chaplin, Celina, Edwards. Fraser, Aluko, Coulson not bad players but just too many of them. When i watch a player first thing i look for is attitude and work rate is his attitude still the same when things are not going so well. Some of the players we've signed over the last few years have been appalling especially on loan there's been some good ones as well but not very many.

dirtydingusmagee added 20:39 - Dec 17
nothing galvanised them so far , but we can hope. We got no sign of a new manager bounce when Cook came in , will this squad do it ? if they don't at least put on a good performance i hope those just coasting will be brought down to Earth by the new manager . Sadly im not optimistic, but fingers crossed .

Chondzoresk added 20:42 - Dec 17
Let’s stick 5 past Sunderland….then not lose any more games this season…..we can do it!

Phil1969 added 21:01 - Dec 17
The thing with consistency is quite simple really, why didn’t we start with the second half team in the Wigan game Wed and again this Sat, just saying.

Carberry added 21:23 - Dec 17
A terrible defeat at Barrow and the talk is about lifting the players and making training fun. Isn't that part of our problem - don't worry it's going to be fine, you're all earning more than you should be, you're at a big club, we flew you to the North West and back, pampered and cossetted you and we are going to make training fun so you don't get too depressed.
I think we've gone soft and that shows on the pitch. It's all too comfortable.

shakytown added 21:30 - Dec 17
I honestly thought better of Mcgreal than to come out with the same idiotic rubbish of the past few managers (galvanised is that not an old form of gelling?????). Try telling these lazy lumps of dung that they need to make an effort for the first time in months and at least show the new manager they give a toss. How about fighting for possession or moving into space so someone has an option to pass the ball forward rather than all the way back to Nsiala. Most of all how about playing people in their correct positions a right back is not a left back and will be lost if put there. EVERYONE JUST NEEDS TO DO THE BASIC THINGS FIRST AND STOP BEING PONCY SHOWPONIES.

masetheace added 21:52 - Dec 17
Good to have appointed someone different from the usual group on the managerial roundabout !

BcarefulwhatUWish4 added 23:04 - Dec 17
Hope we can win this one. Even if it's a lucky result, I'd like to see McGreal win 1 of the 4 games he was in charge of (in 10 years time all we have is the stats, little knowledge or time to find out what was going on). Win this one for a good guy who has always given his all for the club.

I'm happy with the appointment even though I know little about McKenna. I think time and effort has been put into making this decision and it's a good one. Need now to have little expectation and let him get on with running the team until the end of the season. We won't be able to tell for some time if things are going in the right or wrong direction. A few players do need to be moved on In Jan and we do need strengthening in a few key positions. Good luck to the new management team and hope your time here will bring us some success.

DifferentGravy added 08:36 - Dec 18
Agree with Linkboy13 - Need to win the battle first with players prepared to put in the hard work and desire.... which then enables the flair players to get on the ball and create. We have too many lightweight on the pitch and we simply dont compete. As a consequence our shape and confidence get shot to pieces. The Charlton, Wigan(first half) and Barrow(first half) games are prime examples. Its about the contributions made by the individuals to the team......but also about the manager recognizing those facts and selecting the appropriate players.

braveblue added 09:08 - Dec 18
If you are vaccinated and boosted you don’t need to isolate. So presume these players haven’t bothered. Ridiculous.

Kickingblock added 09:31 - Dec 18
I got pinged at the last home game with a small crowd.
I'm not going to take the risk attending, covid is on the rise and nobody wears a mask. I'd like to swap my ticket for an ifollow pass which won't happen. I'll take it on the chin as my seat will be empty. Good luck and stay safe.

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