Ipswich Town boss wary of Leeds United’s former Blues striker, as Lawrence misses out

Chris Wood (right) during his time at Ipswich Town

Chris Wood (right) during his time at Ipswich Town

While Leeds will have their main talisman at their disposal this afternoon, Ipswich Town will have to do without theirs.

Tom Lawrence sits out the first of a two-game ban – a punishment that also sees him miss the Norwich game at Carrow Road, next week.

The inspirational Welsh international has been involved in no fewer than 13 of Town’s 31 goals this season and has had to single-handedly rescue the Blues more times than manager Mick McCarthy would have liked.

His presence will be sorely missed, as will Toumani Diagouraga’s – the Frenchman having formed part of a new three-man midfield, alongside Grant Ward and fellow loanee Emyr Huws, that has offered more attacking threat over the last two and a bit games.

On-loan Leeds man Diagouraga, who is ineligible and is likely to be replaced by the fit-again Cole Skuse, joins Luke Hyam, Giles Coke, Jonny Williams, Dominic Samuel and Tommy Smith on the sidelines.

Fifth-top Leeds, in contrast, have no such problems and will be led by bustling centre-forward Chris Wood, who has enjoyed a stellar season, while influential midfielder Liam Bridcutt is available again a one-match ban.

Smith knows all about fellow New Zealand international Wood, while Diagouraga will have seen the striker at close quarters this season.

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Not that Mick McCarthy will need any introduction to his former loan player, who scored the winner between the teams, at Elland Road, in September.

“Woody was alright for us, but he’d been injured and there is no doubt he was not as fit as he should have been,” said McCarthy, recalling Wood’s loan spell in Suffolk towards the end of the 2014-15 campaign, which saw him fail to score in eight games.

“I look at him now, he is a right lean, mean tough centre-forward and I thought he was excellent against us at Elland Road.

“He scored the winner, but he was the difference (between the sides) with his performance.

“I am seeing him doing what he did three or four years ago when I really liked him and took him.

“His last game was against Wolves, he came on as a sub, and was just getting to the fitness levels we would have liked and Leicester took him back.

“We didn’t see the best of him but he is a very good player.”