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Town v Hull preview: General atmosphere and poor pitch not helping Town at home, says Chambers

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 March 2018

Luke Chambers consoles Bersant Celina after the 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff City last month. Photo: Steve Waller

Luke Chambers consoles Bersant Celina after the 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff City last month. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers says Portman Road is a difficult place to play at present, but knows the players need to do more to entertain the fans.

Joe Garner could return to the Town starting line-up tonight after a sore knee restricted him to a late cameo in Saturday's 0-0 home draw with Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller Joe Garner could return to the Town starting line-up tonight after a sore knee restricted him to a late cameo in Saturday's 0-0 home draw with Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller

The Blues host relegation-fighting Hull City tonight having scored just twice in their last eight matches on Suffolk soil.

Saturday’s drab goalless draw with Sheffield United reignited criticism about a general lack of entertainment value being dished up be Mick McCarthy’s men over the last two years, with Chambers saying: “I think the lads have got to take a bit more responsibility and put their foot on the ball and offer a few more angles for each other a bit more.

“We work very, very hard without the ball, that’s one of our strengths, but I feel we can do a lot more with the ball.

“You can be given all the instructions in the world, but you have to make the decision on the pitch whether to control it, pass it short or play it long.

MORE: Chambers speaks openly about Evans, McCarthy, budget and more - read the full transcript

“We play to our strengths at times, yes. If you have the ball in the bottom right-hand corner and you hit a diagonal pass to your team-mate and you’re then in a position in the attacking third in one pass, as supposed to 50 passes around the back, then you are still getting the same end result. Yes, it might not be as pleasing on the eye, but we play to our strengths.

“But like I say, people do have to relax a little bit more and not get sucked into the environment we are playing in at the moment.”

He continued: “Our pitch is an issue. I can’t understand how we’re talking about a football pitch in the Championship being like that and that is a frustration for me. And it’s a difficult thing playing at home at the moment with the general atmosphere.

Jonas Knudsen is available again after a tight hamstring sidelined him at the weekend. Photo: Steve Waller Jonas Knudsen is available again after a tight hamstring sidelined him at the weekend. Photo: Steve Waller

MORE: ‘I’m sick of talking about me and the fans’ – what McCarthy had to say yesterday

“Obviously people are frustrated with what’s happening top to bottom at the club. You can feel that as a player when you’re getting booed off at half-time if it’s 0-0. It’s difficult to play in.

“But at the end of the day people are paying a lot of money to be entertained and we have to take the responsibility to be a bit braver, to want the ball and make the right decisions when the ball is up in the air. To see if you can bring it down and make a couple of passes the break the lines and get in behind the opposition.

MORE: ‘It’s all for him’ – Bialkowski delivers on promise to his late father

“Against Cardiff recently all the boys seemed to be playing with a bit more freedom. If I could put my finger on why that doesn’t happen game-in, game-out then I would probably be working as a manager somewhere.”

With league attendances at Portman Road having recently dipped to a near 20-year low, the Blues skipper said: “Yes entertainment is an issue in football, but I remember when Milton Keynes Dons came up and played good football and they went straight back down.

“We’re getting results, we’re not conceding many goals, but at the end of the day people are paying their money to come and be entertained and if they are not being entertained then they are not going to come. It’s a Catch 22 scenario and I haven’t got the answers.”

MORE: Stuart Watson’s verdict - ‘McCarthy badly misjudges mood as judgement day looms

He added: “The last few weeks have definitely been more encouraging. We’ve definitely put in better performances, both individually and collectively, and the away form has been good. There are positives, but you understand people’s frustrations at the weekend.

“We’ve got 10 games left and we will fight in every single one of them. We had a crap finish to last season which affected our league position and I will be doing everything I can personally to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We need to be finishing in the top half.

“Until the play-offs are mathematically out of our hands I won’t be giving up on that. This is now a must-win game if we want to achieve something. We’ve got to take that pressure in the dressing room.”

Opposition lowdown

Manager: Nigel Adkins (Dec’ 17: P19 W6 D5 L8)

Position: 12th

Last five finishes: 18th (Prem), 4th (Champ), 18th, 16th (both Prem), 2nd (Champ)

Form: WLDWL LWLDW

Last game: W 4-3 Norwich (h)

Most starts: Aina (36), McGregor (35), Dawson (34), Bowen (33)

Most assists: Grosicki and Larsson (4)

Top-scorers: Bowen (12), Grosicki and Hernandez (6)

Margins of victory: 1 (x6), 2 (x1), 3+ (x3)

Margins of defeat: 1 (x12), 2 (x3), 3+ (x3)

Stat attack

5 – Clean sheets in the last 10 games for Town

383 – Minutes since Town last scored at home

3 – Away league wins in the last 36 for Hull (1 in Prem Lg, 2 in the Championship)

Last meeting

Hull City 2 Ipswich Town 2

Date: Saturday, November 18, 2017

Jordan Spence poked home a late leveller (88) in a topsy-turvy affair.

David McGoldrick put Town in front (6), before goals from Jarrod Bowen (34) and Nouha Dicko (51) turned the game on its head.

McGoldrick then had a penalty saved by Allan McGregor before Town rescued a deserved point.

Town team news

• Dominic Iorfa has been ruled out with the groin injury that forced him off at half-time in Saturday’s draw with Sheffield United. Jordan Spence will take his place.

• Jonas Knudsen is set to return after missing the Blades clash with a tight hamstring. He trained with the squad yesterday and is set to come in for Myles Kenlock.

• Joe Garner will be in the squad again despite carrying a number of knocks, including a knee injury, with manager Mick McCarthy expecting the striker to continue to be involved until the upcoming international break.

• David McGoldrick, Andre Dozzell, Tom Adeyemi, Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop remain long-term absentees

Hull team news

• Allan McGregor could return in goal in place of David Marshall after missing the 4-3 victory over Norwich with a knock.

• Uruguayan international Abel Hernandez made his first start since August against Norwich at the weekend after rupturing his Achilles in August. It’s unlikely he will be ready to start two games in just four days, with Nouha Dicko a likely replacement if he is rested ahead of a game with Birmingham at the weekend.

Opposition key man

Jarrod Bowen

The youngster leads the Tigers’ Championship scoring charts with 12 goals this season, cutting in from the right on his left foot and providing the strugglers with an outlet in attack.

Odds

Ipswich Town 19/10

Hull City 19/10

Draw 23/10

Referee

Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)

Games: 34, Yellows: 143, Reds: 6

Stu’s prediction

Ipswich Town 1 Hull City 1

Hull fighting for their lives. Town have plenty of spirit, but lacking creative spark.

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