FA Cup tie against Preston earmarked as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s Ipswich Town debut
- Credit: Archant
The FA Cup tie against Preston North End on January 4 has been earmarked as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s first game for Ipswich Town, according to manager Mick McCarthy.
The 27-year-old striker broke his leg and suffered ankle ligament damage on April 1 and has been without a club since being released by Wolves in the summer.
He has trained with the Blues’ fist team at full intensity this week though, the two-times Championship Golden Boot winner signing until the end of the season on Thursday.
“He’s not ready to play,” said McCarthy, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Watford to Portman Road. “I’ve earmarked the Cup tie on the fourth of January for him to play. He may be fit before, let’s hope he is, it might be that it’s after that. I don’t know.
“He’s joined in his first full week’s training at the intensity of the first team and got through it fine. We can’t microwave fitness tests though, we can’t get him fit in three days when it might take three weeks.”
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Ebanks-Blake – who was brought to Molineux by McCarthy and scored 25 goals in the season Wolves won the Championship – is understood to have had offers from high-flying duo Leicester and Burnley before choosing Ipswich this week.
He said: “The move has been speculated about for a while. Obviously the manager has kept in touch with me throughout my rehab and I’m just delighted to get it done now.
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“It just shows the relationship that we’ve built up through the years at Wolves. I’ve got great respect for him, he’s a great man.
“I’ve worked with both him and TC (Terry Connor) in the past, we’ve had success in the past and I’m hoping we can replicate that here.
“Mick’s just a very honest man. As players that’s all you want, honesty. You just want to know why you’re not in the team or what you need to do to get in it. You’d rather be told the truth than not.
“There was bits and pieces of other interest but that’s not something I want to focus on. I’m an Ipswich player and I’m delighted that it’s all signed and sealed.”
Reflecting on the nine months that have passed since he sustained that bad injury, he said: “It’s been tough, but I’m a positive person and I’ve just remained positive the whole time. I knew I’d get back to playing.
“Wolves looked after me. They aided my rehab from start to finish and I’ve got a lot of respect for them for that.
“I feel good. I’m training fine and am back fit now. Am I ready to play? You’d have to the manager that!
“You can never walk into Mick’s teams. Everyone knows that. You have to work hard to get in there and stay in there.
“It’s going to be difficult but I know the challenge that’s ahead of me. That’s why I’ve taken this on.”
Asked if he can refind the form which has seen him score 75 goals in four seasons at second tier level, he said: “Why not? I scored quite a few goals in this league last season (14) so I don’t see why not.” And asked whether he feels the Blues can finish in the top six this season he said: “Again, why not? It’s a very good squad, a very tight-knit squad and they’re all good lads. We’ve got all the ingredients for success.
“We’re just on the cusp of the top six at the moment. There will be a few teams in the mix and don’t see why Ipswich can’t be one of them.”
McCarthy added: “I’m delighted, it’s a great bit of business. There were plenty of other takers for him with his goalscoring record. He’d be a prize asset for anybody in this division so we’re delighted to have got him.
“If it had been only about money maybe somebody would have thrown a bit more at him, but I think it’s where he feels comfortable. He knows me, the relationship wasn’t always smooth, I left him out in the past and gave it out to him, but he knows that.
“He had a good relationship with me and he enjoys the striker work he does with TC (Terry Connor). I think he knows that it’s a symbiotic deal – I get the best out of him and he gets the best out of me.
“I wasn’t surprised that I got him because I have that relationship. I have no idea what other people offered him, but he wanted to come here and it only took him two days to make his mind up.”
The Blues boss added: “You can never have enough goals. We’re one of the highest goalscorers in the league, bizarrely enough, having been one of the poorest last season. If you score more goals than the opposition you win games.”
– See tomorrow’s EADT for more on the Blues’ latest signing.