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Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Accrington Stanley
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 22nd January 2022 Kick-off 15:00
McKenna Considering Changes as Accrington Visit
Friday, 21st Jan 2022 16:59

Town boss Kieran McKenna has hinted that there may be changes to the Blues side which faces Accrington Stanley at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.

So far, McKenna has started the same outfield 10 players in all three of his games as Town manager with keeper Christian Walton, who joined the club on a permanent basis from Brighton earlier in the week, having been replaced for the 1-0 home victory over Wycombe by Vaclav Hladky as he had been suffering with Covid.

McKenna won his first two matches in charge before last week’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Bolton, however, he says that that result isn’t why the XI which lines up against Stanley might see some changes of personnel.

“Not necessarily off of the defeat, to be honest,” he said. “More off the fact that we have a big squad and we’re going to need everybody who is here, everybody who is on the bus is going to be important for us until the end of the season.

“The team has been consistent over the last few games, obviously the team has been performing well, but it was never going to be the case that we’re going to select the same team for 10, 11 or 12 games in a row.

“We have good players here who are hungry, who are training well who want a chance to impress. It’s very important that we keep that pot bubbling. It’s important that players know that if they train well, there will be opportunities, and we have different assets in the squad as well.

“So we’re looking at the balance of the team, obviously looking at Accrington, looking at where we think we can hurt them and the balance of how we want to play.

“We’re in a good position and we have a good squad, good options and we look to those options not just on Saturday but Tuesday and the games coming up.

“It’s important that we don’t just have an XI, that we have a squad that’s competing and feel like they have a chance to play and that can all add something to the team and contribute to the end of the season.”

McKenna says it’s been a good week at the club’s Playford Road training ground since the loss to the Trotters.

“Training’s been good, the reaction’s been where you would want it to be,” he said. “Obviously everyone in the building was disappointed with the result last weekend, but we have to take it on the chin, we’re not going to win every game.

“We looked at the game in the early parts of the week, we’ve looked at where we can improve and things that we didn’t do as well as we could have.

“The work then on the pitch has been really good - good intensity, everyone’s been getting on with it, again really good competition for places, everyone fighting to get in the team.

“I’m as confident as I can be in terms of the players’ attitude going into this game. They know, I think, what a challenge it’s going to be and that we’re going to have to be at our best.

“It’s been a good week, we’re really keen to get back to a home game. It was December 29th when we played Wycombe at home and that seems a long time ago.

“The boys loved that game and they loved the atmosphere and are really looking forward to getting back to Portman Road in front of again, I’m sure, a good crowd and a good support, getting back on our home pitch and looking to show what we’ve been working on, showing what we’re trying to be about as a team and how we want to be going forward.

“It’s going to be a challenge against Accrington but it’s about us being positive going into the game, playing at home trying to make the stadium a difficult place to come to and making it a really good place for us to play in and a good place for people to come and watch football.”

At Bolton, Town dominated possession and controlled the game but without being able to create too many clear-cut opportunities.

“I think that’s been a theme throughout the season, to be honest,” he reflected. “I think penetration and creating chances hasn’t been a strong point for the team.

“We feel like over the last few games we have created well, but at Bolton certainly we felt like we lacked penetration. We didn’t get behind them enough and we didn’t get around the sides enough.

“We’ve looked at that, we’ve worked on it in training and we feel like it was one of the big missing links from the game.

“We thought we did a lot of things well and we didn’t have the ball because Bolton gave us the ball. I thought we had the ball because for a lot of the game we pressed well.

“We built up well, we did a lot of good things in the game and in the second half we had 71 per cent of the ball against Bolton, who are a good footballing team and want to have the ball as well.

“I don’t think it was a case that they gave us it, I thought we did some things well to have that much control, but we didn’t penetrate enough for sure. We’ve looked at it, we’ve watched the video and we’ve worked on it in training.

“Accrington is a different game and a completely different type of team, but adding penetration to our game is massive. We don’t just want to control, we want to have penetration, we want to create chances and we hope to do that tomorrow.”

McKenna has a lot of time for Accrington boss John Coleman, who has been in charge at the Wham Stadium since 2014, his second spell at the club following a stint between 1999 and 2012, and is getting close to his 1,000th game with Stanley.

“He’s done a fantastic job, I have to say,” McKenna said. “I hadn’t seen as much of them until the last couple of weeks but the way he’s got them working, the attitude of the team, the hunger of the team, the way they play and fight for each other on the pitch, they’re a credit to him.

“You can see in their recent results. They’ve played some big teams in the division over the last five games and have been undefeated in those games, have even gone down to 10 men and still been competitive in the games, which shows a lot about their spirit and stubbornness as a team.

“We faced them earlier in the season as a club and know how difficult the game was, so we’re under no illusions about the challenge tomorrow and we’re making sure that the players are as ready for that as they can be.”

Walton will continue in goal with McKenna unlikely to make a change to his back three, which again is likely to see Janoi Donacien on the right, Luke Woolfenden in the centre and George Edmundson on the left.

Wes Burns again looks set to be the right wing-back but McKenna may look at bringing in Kane Vincent-Young on the left for Matt Penney, the former Colchester man having replaced the summer signing from Sheffield Wednesday from the bench against Wanderers last week.

In midfield, skipper Samy Morsy could again be partnered by Lee Evans, however, McKenna praised Tom Carroll in his pre-match press conference and the former Tottenham and QPR man could be in contention.

New signing Tyreeq Bakinson will not be involved having only met his new team-mates on Friday morning.

McKenna has options in the number 10 role with Sone Aluko having been impressive in recent weeks but with Bersant Celina back from injury and Conor Chaplin perhaps unfortunate to have dropped away from the starting XI.

The Blues boss may look to start two of those number 10s over the course of the next couple of games with Town at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday evening.

Macauley Bonne and James Norwood again look set to be the front pairing.

Stanley manager John Coleman says he was disappointed to see his friend Paul Cook lose his job at Portman Road.

“I have a good relationship with Paul Cook with him being there this season and unfortunately getting dismissed, but I was party to when he was making signings as I was speaking to him three or four times a week and I have seen the squad he put together,” he told his club’s official site.

“If I am honest, I still think that is the best squad in the league and everyone is waiting for them to get going. Eventually they will get going and will go on a run and that will be down to Paul’s recruitment.

“The new manager has come in and, by all accounts, he has been really good with the players and got them firing and that club will eventually get it right.

“I hope he [McKenna] has a good career but I hope we don’t enhance that on Saturday, I hope we can put a spanner in the works.”

Accrington, who are 10th, one place and one point ahead of the Blues, have midfielder Liam Coyle and centre-half Ross Sykes unavailable due to suspension, while striker Jovan Malcolm has been recalled from his loan spell by West Brom.

Midfielder Joe Pritchard is out with a hamstring injury, while club captain Seamus Conneely has been out with a knock for the last month and Joel Mumbongo is sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury.

As McKenna said, Stanley are unbeaten in five, a run which includes 1-0 home victories over Bolton and Rotherham before draws in their last three, most recently a 1-1 stalemate at home to Sunderland last week, achieved despite Sykes having been red-carded, Coyle having been dismissed in the first half of the previous week's 1-1 draw at home to the MK Dons.

Coleman says that given that run of form his side will go into Saturday’s game in good heart.

“There is a feel-good factor, it’s a good place to be,” he added. “The best way to foster team spirit is win games, or don’t get beat, or perform well in adversity and we have done all them over the last five weeks.

“The lads are starting to believe in each other, it takes a lot of hard work, and we have got a strong enough squad.

“I was pleased with our performance against Sunderland. They are one of the top teams and if we are slugging it out with one of the top teams and not looking out of place it shows we belong in League One.”

The teams have only previously met six times in their history, all in the last four seasons with each side winning three times, all in the league aside from the Lancastrians' 1-0 FA Cup third round win at the Wham Stadium in January 2019.

Stanley are yet to take a point from a visit to Portman Road with Saturday their third visit. Away from home this season, Accrington have won three, drawn three and lost six.

In October, Stanley came from a goal down at half-time to beat under-par Town 2-1 at the Wham Stadium.

Bonne gave the Blues the lead in the 38th minute with his eighth goal of the season but the home side netted through Colby Bishop and Harry Pell on 50 and 79 to deservedly claim the points.

The teams last met at Portman Road in October 2020 when second-half goals from Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears saw then-top-of-the-table Town to a 2-0 victory.

The Blues, who started without an out-and-out central striker, were disappointing in the first half but improved after the break with Edwards opening the scoring in the 54th minute and Sears sealing a third successive 2-0 League One home win on 71.

Centre-half Cameron Burgess joined the Blues from Accrington for £750,000 in August last year having spent one season with Stanley, making 50 starts and two sub appearances, scoring six times.

Defender Donacien moved to Town for £750,000 in the summer of 2018, while striker Kayden Jackson joined the Blues from Accrington for £1.6 million during the same close season. Both were members of Stanley’s 2017/18 League Two title-winning side.

Saturday’s referee is Geoff Eltringham, who has shown 76 yellow cards and two red in 19 games so far this season.

The County Durham-based official’s last Town match was the 2-1 loss at Reading in March 2019 in which he booked Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala, Gwion Edwards and four Royals.

In the preceding December he had taken charge of the 2-0 defeat at Stoke in which he again cautioned Edwards as well as one Potter.

A couple of months before that, he was the man in the middle for the 2-0 home defeat to QPR in which he booked just one visiting player.

Prior to that he took the whistle for the second half of the 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in December 2017 when he replaced Robert Jones at the break and booked Celina and one Teessider.

Eltringham refereed the 3-2 defeat at Leeds in September of the same year when he booked Jonas Knudsen, Cole Skuse, Jordan Spence and one home player, and was also in charge of the 2-1 win at Barnsley the previous month in which he booked Dominic Iorfa, Knudsen and one Tyke.

Prior to that he was the referee for the 3-1 loss at Fulham in April last year in which he booked three home players and Blues captain Luke Chambers.

He also took control of the 2-2 draw with Reading at Portman Road two months earlier in which he cautioned Knudsen and two of the visitors and the 0-0 draw at Blackburn in October 2016 in which he booked only one home player.

Eltringham also refereed the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in April 2013 when he kept his cards in his pockets throughout.

His first Blues match was against Leeds at Elland Road in January 2012, which ended 3-1, in which he red-carded on-loan Town keeper Alex McCarthy for handling outside the area thereby denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity and booked Luke Hyam and one Whites player.

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

Photo: Matchday Images

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Tractorboy58 added 18:03 - Jan 21
This manager speaks with so much more intelligence and confidence on how to move forward than Paul Cook !

Linkboy13 added 18:46 - Jan 21
I think the manager will give the same players a chance to redeem themselves and prove if they've got the character longterm to get results. Good manager's are not frightened to make changes early if it's not working. This was one of the problems with Cook he tended to wait when it was too late before he changed anything. It will be interesting to see how McKenna handles it tomorrow but it's a game we must win otherwise the doom and gloom merchant's will be out in force. I think the start of next season we'll see a much different lineup and only then will i be judging McKenna's potential to get us promoted. I think its been proved this squad is highly unlikely to go on a long winning run hope im proved wrong though COYB.

IpswichT62OldBoy added 20:48 - Jan 21
It's a 6 pointer.

dirtydingusmagee added 21:11 - Jan 21
i like that KM is looking sensibly flexible and not suffering from tunnel vision.

Saxonblue74 added 08:19 - Jan 22
Hope he doesn't do anything too dramatic, I'm liking the settled look to the starting lineup. We're still in it this season. The concensus seems to be that 2 points per game would put us there or there abouts, 3 points today would give us 10 points from the last 5 games!

Bazza8564 added 08:36 - Jan 22
With Donacien Playing well, I think its quite possible to rotate Celina and Chaplin in for Burns and Aluko. Equally, Piggot for Bonne is an Option, and with Norwood playing in that left role mainly rather than as an out and out striker, you could use Chaplin or Celina in there too.
One name that's gone missing from that list is Fraser, did he leave whilst I was on holiday, is he injured or did Phil just miss him out? :)

Saxonblue74 added 08:57 - Jan 22
Bazza, Fraser has picked up a slight injury. Afraid I can't agree with switching Burns for anyone, nailed on starter every game for me, such a big miss when he was unavailable.

TimmyH added 11:00 - Jan 22
As much as I want us to win I feel this has a draw written all over it!

C_Jam_Blue added 12:00 - Jan 22
Need to find a way to get a bit more creativity up top. Gillingham aside, 2 shots on target last week, 1 against Wycombe and 2 against Sunderland. Celina for Norwood and poss. KVY for Penney.

gosblue added 12:25 - Jan 22
Burns plays better when Donacien plays right-back in a four. Maybe it’s time to mix it up a bit I think Chaplin deserves a chance at 10. Evans will be desperate to put in a performance with Caroll and Bakinson looking over his shoulder. I think Bonne is trying too hard and could do with a spot on the bench to recharge the batteries. Norwood is Norwood but the gaffer should do a deal with him in that as soon as he gets booked for dissent or a stupid foul, he gets the hook. I don’t think Celina is ready for a start but he always looks good from the bench. Fairly confident today whoever the gaffer picks. I wonder if Jackson will be on the Accrington team bus after the game. I think it would be a move that would suit all concerned. COYB

blueboy1981 added 13:52 - Jan 22
Time will Tell - as it always does … !!!

blueboy1981 added 13:57 - Jan 22
Let’s not ‘fudge around’ these are games with Clubs we should be ‘coasting all over’ !!!
Nothing should be comparable, and isn’t, other than that what is produced on the pitch - and with that non comparability - on the pitch shouldn’t be either … !!!

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