BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Can Jimmy help end Town’s torrid time?
A BREATHLESS week in the life of Ipswich Town could end with Paul Jewell’s three new signings all making their debut today.
Jewell could have been forgiven for making wholesale changes in the wake of two successive thrashings at the hands of Southampton and Peterborugh.
But the manager doesn’t have the luxury of real squad depth so he will look to tinker rather than wield the axe.
Lee Martin and Tommy Smith are both suspended, Ivar Ingimarsson is out and there is a huge doubt over former Leeds favourite Lee Bowyer.
Jewell must decide whether to revert back to the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation and most fans inside Portman Road today will be happy to see a more defensive unit from the outset.
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That will start with new signing Ibrahima Sonko who should line up alongside Damien Delaney.
One upfront is likely with Michael Chopra supported by Daryl Murphy, in his second Town debut, on the left, and probably Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on the right.
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The identity of the midfield three will be dependant on Jimmy Bullard’s fitness and form in training since he completed a two-year deal with Town on Wednesday. Grant Leadbitter, Keith Andrews and Mark Kennedy are the others in contention.
Although results on the pitch have improved significantly, Simon Grayson still has injury concerns off it.
Leigh Bromby and Ben Parker are both hamstring victims while full-backs Tom Lees and Aidan White picked up minor knocks in the last week.
Both are expected to be fit though and Leeds should line up with the same 11 that did so well in front of the Sky cameras at Upton Park on Sunday.
Former Town defender Alex Bruce appears to have fallen out of favour at Elland Road and could be moving on.
Former Pompey midfielder Michael Brown is again missing but striker Billy Paynter is likely to return to the squad after shaking off a thigh strain.
After his match-winning heroics in the Carling Cup, a competition where he has now scored four times this season, Honduran international Ramon Nunez will be hoping to get the nod.
Grayson said: ”You have to forget about their last two results and look at their squad – they have one of the best in the division.
“Paul will be bitterly disappointed with how things have panned out over the last couple of games because they started the season really well.
“We know they could be a wounded animal and come out fighting because that is what Paul Jewell is all about. “On the other side of that, their results must have had some effect on them and we have to show the same sort of attitude and quality that we showed against West Ham.”
Ipswich Town: Stockdale, Edwards, Sonko, Delaney, Cresswell, Emmanuel-Thomas, Bullard, Andrews, Leadbitter, Murphy, Chopra, Lee-Barrett, Ainsley, Kennedy, Carson, Bowyer, Scotland, Ellington, Healy, Hyam, Drury
Leeds United: Andy Lonergan, Lees, Kisnorbo, O’Dea, White, Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Gradel, McCormack, Keogh, Rachubka, O’Brien, Connolly, Nunez, Paynter, Sam, Bruce