Ipswich Town have focussed on defending ahead of Ewood Park trip

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town have spent all week trying to tighten up at the back ahead of this afternoon’s Championship match against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

The hallmark of the Blues’ initial turnaround under Mick McCarthy’s management was being stubborn, spirited, organised and hard to beat.

However, since Tommy Smith misjudged a long ball to allow Derby County to register a 1-0 win at Portman Road back on January 10, the team has not looked as difficult to score against.

Town may pose a greater attacking threat these days – they have not drawn a blank in the league for 23 matches – but they have conceded more (58) than they have scored (55) in all competitions this calendar year.

“We’ve worked on defending this week,” said McCarthy, the Blues boss’ side having slipped to eighth in the table following frustrating home draws with Birmingham (1-1) and Bristol City (2-2).

“It’s been difficult to do previously because we’ve had a game schedule consisting of Friday-Tuesday-Friday-Wednesday-Saturday.

“You can work on a bit of shape in those short gaps between games, but when you work on defending properly it needs to be done at full-tilt and aggressively and we’ve not been able to do that.

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“This is the first week that we’ve had for a while to do a bit of coaching.”

He continued: “We carry a far greater threat going forwards now, I think. We look a threat every time we go forwards, but unfortunately we look threatened when defending as well.

“Some of the goals we’ve conceded have been down to glaring individual errors, others have been down to little mistakes – a 20% mistake here, another 20% mistake there – that add up as a whole mistake and the ball in your net.

“It’s not like us at all, but we’re still where we are, we’re still in good shape, and we’ll still be competing for those top places.”