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Big match preview: Ipswich Town v Leeds United – Everything you need to know

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 January 2018

Dean Gerken (left) will replace Bartosz Bialkowski (calf strain) in goal today, while Tommy Smith (right) again misses out through illness. Photo: Steve Waller

Dean Gerken (left) will replace Bartosz Bialkowski (calf strain) in goal today, while Tommy Smith (right) again misses out through illness. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town host Leeds United in a Championship match this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits today’s Championship clash with Leeds United at Portman Road is ‘a big game for us’.

The Blues were just two points off the play-off places after beating Derby, Nottingham Forest and Reading in late November/early December, but a miserable spell of form over the busy turn of the year has seen the mood sour.

A drab goalless home draw with QPR on Boxing Day is all there is to show from a gruelling five games in 15 days, with defeats against Wolves, Derby and Fulham seeing an injury-hit team slip to 12th in the table.

Resounding boos then greeted the final whistle after last weekend’s limp 1-0 home loss to Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round – the eighth straight season Town have fallen at the first hurdle.

Jonas Knudsen is likely to deputise at centre-back again in the absence of the injured Adam Webster. Photo: Steve Waller Jonas Knudsen is likely to deputise at centre-back again in the absence of the injured Adam Webster. Photo: Steve Waller

Victory today would calm everything down ahead of next weekend’s trip to struggling Bolton. On the flip side, there is a scenario where Town could end the day nearer the relegation zone then the top-six.

“We need one win,” said McCarthy. “This is a big game for us. They have just got in the top six, are bringing a big, big crowd, it will be a good atmosphere and we need to win. We need to get back to winning ways.”

Hundreds of Town fans have been told to move seats to accommodate a travelling army of 3,500 Leeds fans. It’s been done to avoid the controversial ‘all-ticket’ matchday rules from last season which were in place to prevent away fans attempting to buy tickets in the home end on the day.

It will provide extra revenue and a better overall atmosphere, but is also likely to give the visiting players a lift. Leeds certainly need that after losing at Birmingham, drawing 0-0 at home to Nottingham Forest and then exiting the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-1 defeat at mid-table League Two side Newport County last weekend.

“They have been in good form and they are a good team,” said McCarthy. “There was nothing in the game up there (3-2 Leeds win last September) and I thought we were the better side. I will settle for the same performance but with a better result.”

With keeper Bartosz Bialkowski (calf strain) joining a lengthy injury list, the Blues boss added: “We’ve got 18 players, 16 outfield players, that’s it – and that includes Chris Smith and Adam McDonnell back from loan deals (at Chelmsford and Aldershot respectively).

“I’m confident we can get wins with them. Those that didn’t play last week (notably Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and Cole Skuse) should be better for it.”

Joe Garner should return up front after being rested for last weekend's FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United. Photo: Pagepix Joe Garner should return up front after being rested for last weekend's FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United. Photo: Pagepix

Stat attack

– Leeds are division’s only side without an away draw: W7 L6

– Town have scored as many league goals as they’ve conceded (39)

– The Blues have lost just once to Leeds at Portman Road since relegation in 01/02: P10 W7 D2 L1

Opposition lowdown

Team name: Leeds United

Manager: Thomas Christiansen (June ‘17: P31 W15 D5 L11)

Shawn McCoulsky scores the crucial goal in Leeds United's 2-1 FA Cup defeat at League Two side Newport County last weekend. Photo: PA Shawn McCoulsky scores the crucial goal in Leeds United's 2-1 FA Cup defeat at League Two side Newport County last weekend. Photo: PA

Last game: L 2-1 Newport County (a) - FA Cup

Form: LDLWWWWDWL

Last three finishes: 7th, 13th, 15th, 15th, 13th (all Championship)

Away form: P13 W7 D0 L6 F20 A19

Leeds United's manager Thomas Christiansen. Photo: PA Leeds United's manager Thomas Christiansen. Photo: PA

Top-scorers: Roofe (10), Saiz (9), Hernandez (6), Lassoga, Phillips, Alioski (5)

Most assists: Saiz (5), Alioski (4)

Biggest win 17/18: 5-0 v Burton (h)

Biggest defeat 17/18: 4-1 v Wolves (a)

Last meeting

Leeds Utd 3 Ipswich Town 2

Date: September 23, 2017

Pierre-Michel Lasogga broke the deadlock (13), David McGoldrick headed in an equaliser (30), then Kalvin Phillips restored the hosts’ lead (32). Bartosz Bialkowski fumbled a corner over the line (67), before Joe Garner’s goal (71) set up an exciting end to an exciting game.

Ipswich Town team news

• Blues boss Mick McCarthy says keeper Bartosz Bialkowski is ruled out with a calf strain. Dean Gerken, who has not been on the bench for the last seven games due to a hip problem, will start in goal.

• Defenders Jordan Spence (suspended), Tommy Smith (ill, pictured right) and Adam Webster (Achilles) remain sidelined, meaning Jonas Knudsen will again fill in at centre-back.

• Midfielders Emyr Huws (knee), Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Teddy Bishop (hamstring), Andre Dozzell (knee), Flynn Downes (fatigue/calf) remain sidelined, while Tristan Nydam (hip/groin) will make his return for the U23s on Monday.

• Grant Ward (groin) is still out, but Cole Skuse, Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner should all return to the team after being rested for last weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United.

Leeds United team news

• Right-back Luke Ayling has been ruled out for the season after ankle surgery.

• Spanish winger Samuel Saiz, who has contributed nine goals and five assists, starts a six-game ban following his dismissal for spitting at the end of last weekend’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Newport County.

• Ronaldo Vieira (knee), Caleb Ekuban (foot), Matthew Pennington (ill) and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (ankle) are all out, while new left-back signing Lauren De Bock is yet to train with his new team-mates.

• Stuart Dallas (ankle) returns to the squad.

Key opposition man

Pablo Hernandez

The silky Spanish attacker bears all of the creative responsibility now while Saiz sits out for his abhorrent actions.

Betting

Ipswich Town 11/5

Draw 23/10

Leeds United 8/5

Stu’s prediction

Ipswich Town 1 Leeds Utd 1

Neither side in great form. Both have lengthy injury lists. Fear of defeat may make for cagey affair.

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