‘I’ve got no reason to make wholesale changes’ – Hurst is up for the cup
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst says he will name a strong team for tonight’s Carabao Cup first round match at Exeter City.
The Blues have exited the competition early to lower league opposition in five of the last seven campaigns, while the wait for an FA Cup victory stretches back to 2010.
Former boss Mick McCarthy often made sweeping changes to his team when it comes to knockout football, but Hurst is keen to get his first win as Blues boss on the board following a home draw against Blackburn and defeat at Rotherham at the start of the new Championship season.
“The team that I put out tomorrow night, I’d have no qualms about playing in a Championship game,” said Hurst, speaking ahead of the long trip west to face an Exeter side that top the League Two table after two wins from two.
“That’s where I’m at. We’re not suddenly throwing any youth team players in or taking this game lightly – I want to win it.
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“Whether we do or not, we’ll see. The team, I certainly believe, will be good enough to win the game. That’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“We’ve only just started the seasons so I’m not going to start complaining about the schedule and things like that. I want to win games of football. “We’ve played two games and haven’t won one yet. Let’s try and get that first win on the board, no matter what competition it is, and get that feeling that everyone associated with Ipswich Town will be wanting.”
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Hurst led Shrewsbury to the final of the Checkatrdae Trophy last season and took West Ham to an FA Cup third round replay. Prior to that he took Grimsby to the final of the FA Trophy and won two cup competitions at Boston United.
He added: “I did a radio interview and a question came in from a fan ‘will you take the cup competitions seriously?’ My answer was ‘yes’.
“When you look at my record as a manager, and some of the success we’ve had in the cups, I have treated them seriously. Always we respect them and want to do well.
“I’ve changed the team around one or two times, but more often than not that has resulted in us still winning the games. I’ve never put a team out that I don’t believe can win a game of football.
“I’ve just spoken about the health of the squad, so I’ve got no reason to suddenly be making wholesale changes. It will be a strong team and hopefully we can get the result we want.”
He continued: “We’re a good club and a big club. Tomorrow night Exeter, I’m sure, will be looking forward to us coming there. They’ve started the season extremely well and will be looking to cause something of an upset.
“But, if you can progress, you could be on the other side of that and facing a Premier League side. That’s what we’d all like to do if we can get through.
“Exeter have missed out on promotion to League One twice in the Play-Off Finals and have started the season extremely well. They’ve got a new manager who they have promoted from within after many years under Paul Tisdale’s management.
“They’ve got off to a great start with two victories and look a very good team, I have to say. The message from me to the players will be not to take the opposition lightly and be ready for another tough game.”
The format for the Carabao Cup has changed this season, with extra-time scraped and any draws going straight to a penalty shoot-out.
Asked if his players would practise spot-kicks, Hurst said: “No, I haven’t been a massive believer in that in the past. I’ve done it and not done it. I had my own experience with penalties as a player which wasn’t great.
“It’s slightly different in that there’s no extra-time. I think we’ll trust ourselves on the night if we get to that point, but clearly I would prefer we won the game in normal time.”
Town host Aston Villa at Portman Road on Saturday, then travel to Derby County next Tuesday.
“There is always a lot of debate around cup football and whether it’s worth taking seriously,” said Hurst.
“I’ve had a couple of clubs who have got to finals and still been involved in promotion challenges. Some people have the view that slightly hindered us, but I’m not a massive big believer in that.
“In some of the earlier games you get chance to change the team around, but I think with, the League Cup, it’s the third game in.
“We’ve just had a journey to Rotherham, now we’ve got this, then a home game against Aston Villa and then a trip to Derby. So it’s quite a busy start.
“But at the same time I’m not going to use that as any kind of excuse to think ‘let’s change the team around, we’re going to be tired’ or anything like that.
“I want us all to get better on the fitness side of things. We had three lads in the starting line-up at the weekend who didn’t have our pre-season.
“I think there is room for improvement. We are not in bad shape, realistically, on that, but I do expect us to get better.
“I have no concerns about it affecting Saturday’s game or anything like that.”