Ipswich Town boss praises ‘great job’ being done by Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett

Gary Rowett

Gary Rowett - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town will be aiming to get back to winning ways tonight and ramp up the pressure on the three teams above them in the Championship.

With Bournemouth and Middlesbrough both losing at the weekend, Town missed the chance to go third and close the gap on the top two – the Blues falling to a 1-0 home defeat against Reading.

On paper, three points against a Birmingham City side positioned just below mid-table seems a manageable task, but the table does not tell the whole story.

When Gary Rowett arrived at St Andrew’s at the end of October to take over from Lee Clark, Birmingham had just suffered their heaviest defeat for 84 years – an 8-0 home humiliation against Bournemouth – and were second from bottom in the table, with just 11 points from 14 games.

City started as they meant to go on under their new boss, drawing 0-0 at Wolves in his first game and, since that stalemate at Molineux, have taken 27 points from a possible 51.

Their recent form has been patchy, with no wins in the last eight league and cup games, but they are proving a tough nut to crack and have conceded just 18 goals in 18 games under Rowett.

“He (Rowett) has done a great job, not good,” said Ipswich boss, Mick McCarthy.

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“They were in the bottom three when he took over, they had just lost 8-0 to Bournemouth, and it’s been a remarkable turnaround.

“He has got a good unit together who, I guess are a bit like we were when I came here. First you have got to stop goals going in and if you do that, you have got a chance.”

With Town struggling, and ultimately failing, to break down Reading at the weekend, City may well provide a similar obstacle to overcome.

With leaders Derby at home to mid-table Charlton and second-placed Middlesbrough entertaining struggling Bolton, you would think Town would need three points tonight to stay in the running.

However, this is the Championship, and it is proving as unpredictable as ever. Victory though would get Town back on track and be the perfect tonic ahead of the East Anglian derby on Sunday.

Norwich could overtake the Blues with a win at Blackburn tonight.