BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Defensive dilemmas dominate as Delaney faces late test
DEFENSIVE problems continue to occupy manager and fans alike as Ipswich look to build on their excellent start to the league season with the visit of Hull City.
Damien Delaney could be forced to play through the pain barrier as Paul Jewell’s defensive nightmares threaten to derail the Blues early promise.
While there are no concerns over the attacking options that so handsomely despatched of Bristol City last weekend, Jewell’s headaches at the other end go on.
Ivar Ingimarsson is definitely ruled out with a thigh injury while Delaney’s ankle remains an issue after he limped out of the action in the second half at Ashton Gate.
But rarely a game goes by when Delaney doesn’t seem to have some kind of injury and everything will be done to ensure his experienced head forms part of the back four.
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Then Jewell will have a choice over his defensive partner with Tommy Smith edging Jack Ainsley in terms of experience but the latter performing better against Northampton.
If Delaney isn’t passed fit, Jewell might decide to restore veteran Mark Kennedy to left-back but that would be harsh on Aaron Cresswell.
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The manager also faces a choice over new signing Keith Andrews who completed his protracted loan signing from Blackburn late on Thursday night.
It seems likely that the 30-year-old might have to be content with a place on the bench after a disrupted pre-season.
Jewell said: “Hull are a decent team. They’ve got a good manager and good players, they’re a club that was in the Premier League two years ago and they’ll have aspirations of getting back there.
“They’ve got strikers like Fryatt, McClean, who they paid a lot of money for, and Simpson who scored a worldy against us last year here. It is going to be a tough game.”
While Jewell has problems in defence, Hull boss Nigel Pearson conversely has concerns over his misfiring frontline.
In addition to not scoring a goal in their first two matches, despite an impressive pre-season, the Tigers have doubts over strikers Dele Adebola and Aaron McClean.
Adebola, a summer signing from Notingham Forest, seems the likeliest of the two to make the trip, but Pearson might still decide to pair Jay Simpson with last season’s top scorer Matt Fryatt.
Former Town right-back Liam Rosenior is expected to return after missing the Carling Cup exit at Macclesfield – a defeat which saw Pearson put out his strongest side available.
Pearson said: “In the space of a few days we’ve lost two games at home and not scored any goals. The longer it goes on, the more pressure it puts on ourselves so we’ve got to overcome that.
“It’ll be up to us to get our performance right. Ipswich will be a tough game for us but we’ve got to get our season up and running.”
Ipswich Town: Stockdale, Edwards, Ainsley, Delaney, Cresswell, Emmanuel-Thomas, Bowyer, Kennedy, Leadbitter, Martin, Chopra, Lee-Barrett, Smith, Andrews, Carson, Ellington, Drury, Healy, Hyam, Scotland, Priskin.
Hull City: Gulacsi, Rosenior, Chester, Hobbs, Dudgeon, Koren, McKenna, Cairney, Brady, Fryatt, Simpson, Basso, Dawson, C Evans, Pusic, Devitt, Barmby, Adebola.