Big squads have their disadvantages, says McCarthy

Ipswich Manager Mick McCarthy at Loftus Road

Ipswich Manager Mick McCarthy at Loftus Road

He may be down to the bare bones, but Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy stands by his philosophy that it’s better to have a close-knit squad than a bloated one.

Town take on Bristol City, at Ashton Gate, this afternoon with seven outfield players sidelined through injury or suspension. The recent setbacks suffered by key duo Ryan Fraser and Cole Skuse has only added fuel to the argument of many supporters – that a promotion-seeking squad should have been strengthened during the January transfer window.

Instead, McCarthy has been left scrambling around for emergency 93-day loan deals. Ben Pringle has been added from Fulham, while a midfielder is still wanted. In the meantime, fringe players such as Paul Digby, Larsen Toure, Kevin Foley and Jay Tabb all come into the reckoning.

“In fairness I have always worked with 18 to 20 players and then we’ve always supplemented things with the odd loan or academy player,” said the Blues boss.

“I actually prefer it that way because I don’t like travelling with 24 players and sitting the ones who can’t be involved up in the stands.


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“It’s a bit monotonous doing the travelling if you’re not playing. And it’s a bit soul-destroying being left at home waving the coach off on a Friday because it seems a long way off before you’re going to get a game.”

Town’s situation is in complete contrast to their promotion rivals Derby County. The Rams, just three points and two places higher than Ipswich in the Championship table, have spent £22m on transfer fees alone this season but ended up sacking boss Paul Clement this week. The east Midlands club are winless in seven league matches, big-earners such as Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann have been left out of the matchday squad at times and owner Mel Morris said the squad had got ‘too big’.

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“In a strange way, having that small compact group, where you can hang your hat on every one of those 18 players and two keepers, it’s a good way to have it,” added McCarthy.

“The fact we are still in the promotion mix is testament to the shift my players put in every week. We’re not the best team in the league, but they don’t half work hard. I think teams always know they’ve been in a game when they’ve played us.

“I think a challenge brings out the best in me. I have to try and get the best out of someone else and cajole different players.

“I’ve managed to do that for a few years now, so long may that continue.”

– Log on from 2pm for team news and live match updates from Ashton Gate.

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