Fringe players impress, but Mick McCarthy says it doesn’t change what is his best Ipswich Town team

A NUMBER of his fringe players and new signings impressed at Aston Villa, but Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says it hasn’t altered what he believes is his best side.

The Blues boss was without the services of short-term loanees Stephen Henderson and Bradley Orr, as well as the injured Luke Chambers (broken nose) at Villa Park on Saturday. It was also the first match following striker DJ Campbell’s return to QPR.

In addition, Carlos Edwards and Guirane N’Daw were rested following the gruelling Christmas schedule.

Scott Loach pulled off a series of excellent saves in what was his first appearance under McCarthy, teenage right-back Elliott Hewitt looked unfazed in what was his first start above League Two level, while Michael Chopra did himself no harm with a lively display in Town’s spirited 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup third round.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas did little to force his way into the frame, but new signing Patrick Kisnorbo was solid at centre-back and fellow new arrivals David McGoldrick and Aaron McLean produced encouraging cameos off the bench.

Asked if any of his fringe players had worked their way up his pecking order, McCarthy said: “It gave me a chance to look at them, but I’ve picked the same team for five or six games on the bounce (taking 10 points from a possible 18).

“You have to assume therefore that that’s my best team.

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“What was important today was that a few of my other players had a chance to play at that level. They did well and now I know that if I want to change it then I can.”

Loach had a particularly good match, pulling off three excellent saves, getting his hand to Darren Bent’s equaliser, while he could nothing about Andreas Weimann’s brilliant headed winner.

McCarthy was sparing with his praise for the fans’ favourite though – whose name was chanted constantly by the travelling army of 2,900 fans – simply saying: “I thought he acquitted himself well. He played well.”

On others, he said: “I was very pleased with Patrick (Kisnorbo). He’s not played at that level and intensity for a long time (due to injury), so it speaks volumes for the way he’s kept himself right and fit.

“David (McGoldrick) looked like he was finding his sea legs for a while – it bounced off him a couple of times – but he created a great chance towards the end. Aaron (McLean) looks a real handful too.

“I was also pleased with Elliott Hewitt. The way they were playing, I thought he did particularly well.

“He was up against (Charles) N’Zogbia early on and then they put on (Gabriel) Agbonlahor against him – that’s a handful for anybody.

“I was delighted with him. It was pleasing he got through it.”

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