Big match preview: Ipswich Town v Bristol City – everything you need to know
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Ipswich Town host fellow in-form side Bristol City in a Championship clash at Portman Road this afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the action.
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy believes striker Joe Garner has played a major role in his side’s turnaround this season.
The 29-year-old former Preston man has proved an instant hit with Blues fans following a £750k switch from Scottish club Rangers, scoring four goals, fighting for every ball and producing endless energy and aggression.
“I didn’t have that infectious enthusiasm up front last season, that’s for sure. Not like what he brings to the table,” said McCarthy, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s Championship clash with Bristol City at Portman Road. “I always thought he was a good player, but I have to be honest and say he’s an even better than I thought.”
Martyn Waghorn also arrived from Ibrox in a cut-price £250k deal as Portuguese boss Pedro Caixinha shuffled his pack this summer. The 27-year-old has also hit the ground running, scoring five and producing a stunning individual display (goal and three assists) in Tuesday night’s 5-2 thrashing of Sunderland.
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“I remember going to Leicester (in 2012), they murdered us by six and he was outstanding,” says McCarthy. “When I heard he was available I thought ‘that can’t be right’. We checked it out, he was and we got it done.
“Why they didn’t want to keep him I don’t know, but we’ve been the very fortunate beneficiaries of that one.”
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And with silky forward David McGoldrick fully fit and firing again (six goals), Town have a strike force to fear.
“He’s enjoying himself so much with the way he’s playing and the team is playing,” said McCarthy. “He’s really pulling the strings. We’re certainly getting the best out of Didzy at the minute.”
Town may be the division’s leading scorers (19 in nine) with a game in hand on most, but McCarthy is not wholly satisfied.
“My disappointment is we’ve conceded a few as well (13) and we’ve not got the best goal difference. That needs to be sorted out. Certainly conceding from corners – I didn’t like that on Tuesday night.
“I loved the way the lads played though. It was an excellent performance and we could have had more.”
He added: “It would be nice to go into the international break on a high, but Bristol City are only a point behind us and will be thinking the same.”
Team name: Bristol City
Nickname: The Robins
Manager: Lee Johnson (Feb ‘16: P82 W33 D18 L31)
Position last season: 17th in Championship
Key summer signings: Famara Diedhiou (Angers, £5.3m), Nathan Baker (Villa, £4m), Jonathan Leko (West Brom, loan), Niclas Eliasson (Norrkoping, £1.8m).
Top-scorers: Bobby Reid (7), Diedhiou (5)
Last game: Tues: W 2-0 (h) Bolton
Started all 10 league games: Fielding, Bryan, Smith, Reid
Ipswich Town 2 Bristol City 1
Date: Friday, December 30, 2016
Brett Pitman’s acrobatic 86th minute goal secured a gutsy victory. Kevin Bru’s near post finish (39) had been cancelled out by Tammy Abraham (52) after Bartosz Bialkowski and Christophe Berra collided. Town lost the earlier reverse fixture 2-0 at Ashton Gate.
• Bristol City are unbeaten in 10. They’ve have beaten Premier League duo Watford and Stoke to reach the last 16 of the Carabao Cup (home to Crystal Palace).
• It took Town 21 league games to score 19 goals last season.
• Town are four points ahead of their nine-tame tally in 14/15.
Ipswich Town team news
• Mick McCarthy is likely to name an unchanged side following Tuesday night’s 5-2 thrashing of Sunderland at Portman Road. He said: “Change the team, put some fresh legs in, it doesn’t work and I’m a chump. Leave the team as it is, that doesn’t work then the question would be do you think you should have put fresh legs in’. You’ll find out at what I do when the team sheet comes out!” • Centre-back Adam Webster is back in the squad after missing nine games with an ankle injury, while keeper Dean Gerken (hip) will be back on the bench. • Emyr Huws (Achilles), Flynn Downes (thigh), Tommy Smith (hamstring) and Teddy Bishop (groin) could be back in contention after next weekend’s international break. Luke Hyam is out until Christmas after knee surgery, with Andre Dozzell (knee) out for the season.
Bristol City team news
• Midfielder Marlon Pack will serve a one-game suspension. Josh Brownhill could move inside as a result, with either West Brom loanee Jonathan Leko or Callum O’Dowda coming into the side.
• This game has come too early for right-back Eros Pisano (knee), but Lee Johnson otherwise has a fully fit squad to select from.
Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Iorfa, Spence, Chambers, Knudsen; Skuse, Adeyemi; Waghorn, McGoldrick, Celina; Garner.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Fielding; Wright, Flint, Baker, Bryan; Leko, Brownhill, Smith, Paterson; Reid, Diedhiou.
Opposition key man
Bobby Reid Converting the midfielder into a forward has proved a masterstroke. He was in-and-out the side last season and scored four. Already, partnering strong Senegalese striker Famara Diedhiou, he’s netted seven.
Ipswich (11/5) Draw (5/2)
Bristol City (19/13)
Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) Games: 10, Yellows: 26, Reds: 1
Ipswich Town 2 Bristol City 1
Tougher test this, but momentum is a powerful thing.