Where would Ipswich Town be this season without key injuries?
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy likes to think his team would be higher in the Championship table had it not been for key injuries this season and believes the core of a ‘pretty good squad’ is in place.
Following last weekend’s 1-0 win at Preston North End, the Blues are 13th in the standings – six points adrift of the play-off places with 12 games to go – heading into this Saturday’s visit of relegation-fighting Hull City.
It’s tempting to imagine how things would have looked had four points not been squandered by conceding naive late equalisers against Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich, but that ignores the fact that five points have been gained from the late goals scored against Millwall, Burton and Hull.
These things, as the old cliche goes, tend to even themselves out and, analysing the whole piece, the Blues are probably where they deserve to be.
The bigger question is how much better would Town have been had McCarthy had a fully-fit squad to select from on a regular basis? That was certainly the case when the Blues finished sixth in 2014/15 but has rarely been so ever since.
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It’s central midfield where they’ve been hit hardest. Emyr Huws and Tom Adeyemi, both recruited very much as regular starters last summer, have managed just seven senior starts between them due to injury set-backs.
Adam Webster, Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell and Luke Hyam have also had long-term injuries, with youngsters Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam both picking up niggles after their exciting breakthroughs.
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McCarthy, who has suggested he will extend his five-year stay at Portman Road if offered a new deal by owner Marcus Evans, said: “I would like to get Tom Adeyemi back, Emyr Huws back fully fit, to keep Webbo (Adam Webster) fully fit because he’s missed a lot of football, plus Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell, who was the best player on the pitch in the first game of the season.
“That would help a lot of things. Then with Flynn and Tristan, and Ben Morris ,who we hope will come to the fore and is doing really well, we have a pretty good squad.
“I’d like to think we would have been better this season with all of them, but what about the players who have come in and done so well? You always bemoan your luck with injuries but the players who have come in have been excellent.”
Town’s players were given Sunday and Monday off following a busy schedule of three games in seven days, with McCarthy explaining: “I think they’ve all earned that and they can spend a bit of time with their families. They can have a rest because it’s taking its toll.
“Some of the injuries, I’m sure, have come through some of the games and the training and the fact we’ve not used that many players.”
TOWN’S MAJOR INJURIES 2017/18
Rising teenage star was pulling the strings against Birmingham at Portman Road on the opening day of the season, but he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury just after half-time and was cruelly ruled out for the season before it had barely got started.
Appearances 17/18: 1 start, 0 sub appearances
Following an impressive end-of-season loan spell, Town moved to sign the Welsh international for £1m – and on a four-year contract – from Cardiff City last summer. He was seen as a key piece in the jigsaw, but a troublesome Achilles problem in the early weeks of the campaign followed by knee surgery in December has sadly restricted him to just 227 minutes of senior football.
Appearances 17/18: 3 starts, 2 sub apps
Was laid low by a mystery virus soon after signing last summer then picked up a calf strain when playing catch-up on his missed pre-season. Finally made his debut in mid-September, but soon hurt his hamstring in the warm-up ahead of Bristol City’s game at Portman Road. Not played since.
Appearances 17/18: 4 starts, 1 sub app
Missed the second half of the 2016/17 season with an ankle injury, then suffered a set-back to the same injury in the early Carabao Cup win at Luton. Returned to action in October, but was then ruled out for several more weeks with an Achilles issue.
Appearances 17/18: 18 starts, 3 sub apps
Since playing a key role in the 2014/15 campaign, the talented young midfielder has been restricted to just 10 league starts over three seasons due to a string of muscle injuries. Was really catching the eye on Boxing Day against QPR only to limp off in tears after rupturing his hamstring.
Appearances 17/18: 1 start, 3 sub apps