BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Town’s top-six form goes up against top-six side Birmingham
WITH one team facing mid-table mediocrity and the other looking for momentum heading into the play-offs, Town fans might be fearing the worst ahead of tonight’s home match with fourth place Birmingham City.
But the Super Blues should be buoyed by their own side’s form since the end of January and also something of a midfield crisis facing Birmingham boss Chris Hughton.
With Guirane N’Daw already out with a hamstring injury, Keith Fahey went off after just 36 minutes at the weekend with a groin problem.
Jordan Mutch (ankle) is also a big doubt meaning renowned 4-4-2 man Hughton is likely to resort to three across the centre of the park to bulk up his midfield.
Wade Elliott, Morgaro Gomis and young talent Nathan Redmond could all start with Marlon King on his own upfront and Nikola Zigic, who scored twice when the teams met in January, dropped to the bench.
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Colin Doyle will continue in goal after Boaz Myhill injured a thumb during the warm-up before Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bristol City. Jack Butland has also been recalled from his loan spell with Cheltenham.
Things are a lot more straightforward Paul Jewell after he yesterday admitted he would be unlikely to blood youngsters until Saturday’s home match with Millwall and the final game of the season at basement club Doncaster Rovers.
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Only Richard Wright and Jimmy Bullard are missing for the Blues and it would be a surprise if Jewell deviated at all from the 16-man squad that took their place against Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Though Jewell yesterday doubted Jason Scotland’s ability to start both Saturday and then midweek games, the striker’s recent form should see him get the nod over Michael Chopra.
Jewell yesterday heaped praise on tonight’s opponents, but knows his own side have shown play-off form, albeit in the last two-and-a-half months only.
He said: “You can see the players have enjoyed their football over the last 15 or 16 games. We are disappointed how this season has panned out but our form recently has been top six.”
Of Birmingham, the Town boss added: “They have a good chance in the play-offs. They have had a great season, they are difficult to beat and have some good players. They had a bit of a traumatic summer after getting relegated but credit to Chris Hughton.”
And his opposite number in tonight’s dugouts was equally praiseworthy.
Hughton said: “Ipswich are in good form – they are passing the ball very well. Some may say they are under no pressure because they can’t make the play-offs, but knowing them and their manager, they will be desperate to win.”
Birmingham are unbeaten in six while Town have lost just three times in the last 16 matches – although they have claimed just one victory in the last half-dozen games.