Big game feel, an old nemesis and early goals - Town travel to Cambridge

Mark Bonner, left, and Paul Cook will square off today as Ipswich Town travel to Cambridge United

Mark Bonner, left, and Paul Cook will square off today as Ipswich Town travel to Cambridge United - Credit: Archant/PA

Ipswich Town travel down the A14 to face Cambridge United in League One this afternoon (3m ko). Mark Heath previews the action....

Big game feel

Although these teams have rarely met competitively - they last played in a 'real' game back in 1993 - there is undoubtedly a sense of occasion attached to this clash between sides level on points in the table.

Some 2,500 travelling Town fans will be packed into the charming old Abbey Stadium, the game's sold out and - while certainly not a derby match - you'd expect a lively, passionate affair with both sides very much up for it.

It's an opportunity for Town to make it three wins on the bounce in all competitions, as they enter a stretch of games which will tell us a lot about the team, starting at Portsmouth on Tuesday night.

Bersant Celina after the defeat at Accrington Stanley.

Bersant Celina is back from international duty, but will he go straight into the starting XI? - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Selection question

Now we're 11 games into the league campaign, it's starting to feel that Town's first XI is becoming more set in stone.

The back five - Hladky, Donacien, Edmundson, Burgess and Penney - will probably only change here if left back Hayden Coulson is fit again after missing five games with a thigh injury. Penney himself went off with a tight hamstring last week, but Paul Cook would not be drawn on the fitness of either yesterday.

Sam Morsy and Lee Evans will surely continue as the deep midfield pairing, and Macauley Bonne and Wes Burns look nailed on starters as the striker and right winger respectively. 

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All of which just leaves the number ten spot and left wing up for discussion. Bersant Celina is back from international duty, but Conor Chaplin has played well in that 10 role, netting in his last two games.

And wide left, you'd think the exhilarating Kyle Edwards stands a good chance of returning to the starting line-up if fully fit after his recent injury problems, with Scott Fraser perhaps getting a rest.

Grimsby Town's Evan Khouri (left) and Cambridge United's Wes Hoolahan battle for the ball during the

Wes Hoolahan continues to star for Cambridge United at the age of 39. - Credit: PA

Familiar faces

This game looked to be the first time former Town youth product Jack Lankester would face  the Blues since departing for the Abbey for an undisclosed fee in the summer.

But he's struggling with injuries - a theme Town fans will recall - and looks set to miss out here.

In his absence, there's still a couple of players that Blues fans will know - former loanee Paul Digby should start in one of the U's deep midfield roles, while a certain Wes Hoolahan will be pulling the strings from the number 10.

Former Norwich City star Hoolahan, now 39, is one of the U's key players - and, of course, has never finished on the losing side against Town.

Starting fast

Cambridge have a knack of conceding early goals - four inside 16 minutes in their last four games.

Town, of course, have scored a few early goals themselves this season, so don't be surprised if the Blues get a quick opener in this one.

And if they do score early, there's only one man you'd back to be the scorer. Which brings us to... 

Macauley Bonne celebrates giving Town a 1-0 lead.

Macauley Bonne has scored in each of his last three matches, and six of his last seven - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Red-hot Bonne 

Macauley Bonne has been a revelation for Town, his boyhood club, netting nine goals to sit joint top of the League One scoring charts so far.

The on-loan QPR striker has fired in 24 shots this season, with a cracking shot accuracy of 67%.

And he's scored in each of his last three games, plus six of his last seven, including a brace in two of those matches.

He is, without doubt, on fire.

You certainly wouldn't bet against him notching again today - and moving onto double figures for the season in mid-October, which would be sensational.

Bonner says

U's boss Mark Bonner has done a great job at Cambridge, getting them promoted last season and boasting a win percentage of almost 50%.

And he's looking forward to testing himself and his charges against Cook's star-studded side.

He said: “Individually, their players have got very good qualities throughout the team, and we have to try and find some areas that we feel we can exploit. We have got to make sure that defensively we are at our best.

“Our responsibility is to be best we can, and we have shown so far that we can be competitive in the league. We are to look forward to the challenge of competing against a superpower of this league this weekend!”


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