Mick McCarthy faces his own fitness battle ahead of Middlesbrough visit
15:40 01 February 2013
Ipswich v Middlesbrough: IPSWICH Town manager Mick McCarthy faces his own fitness battle ahead of tomorrow’s Championship visit of Middlesbrough.
The Blues boss has not been at the training ground since Tuesday due to a virus, with assistant Terry Connor taking today’s press conference and on stand-by to take charge at Portman Road tomorrow.
“He wasn’t great on Monday, but he felt worse on Tuesday, went home and hasn’t reported for work since,” said Connor.
“He was desperate to come in today but still didn’t feel able to come in, so he’s hoping that all the drugs and everything kick in by tomorrow and he’s able to do his stuff on a matchday.”
Middlesbrough arrive at Portman Road in sixth-place, but having lost three games in succession and six of their last seven away matches.
There are plenty of Town links at the Teeside club, with manager Tony Mowbray and assistant Mark Venus both former Blues players, midfielder Grant Leadbitter having spent three years at Portman Road, while two-times Town winger Kieron Dyer has just signed for the club and could make his debut on Suffolk soil.
The could be two debuts for the Blues. Richard Stearman – who has joined the club on loan from Wolves until the end of the season – is set to replace Bradley Orr at right-back following his return to Blackburn.
Left-footed playmaker Anthony Wordsworth – signed from Colchester – is more likely to be on the bench. The 24-year-old midfielder’s last competitive match came over three weeks ago due to a two-game suspension coming during a period in which many League One games were victims to the cold snap.
“It’s been a bit heavy out on the pitches this week, so we’ve had to try and temper the training to make sure we don’t overdo it and leave too much on the training pitch,” said Connor. “With a bit of luck, the gaffer will have everyone to select from for tomorrow.”
Town have slipped to within four points of the relegation zone since last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at previously rock-bottom Bristol City. Like Middlesbrough, the Blues are yet to register a league win in 2013.
– See tomorrow’s EADT for full match preview.