Waghorn proves the Blues aren’t stuck in the middle without Garner
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Joe Garner’s absence from Ipswich Town’s trip to Derby County highlighted a different side to Martyn Waghorn.
The two signings from Rangers have both impressed since moving from Scotland in the summer, with the vast majority of Waghorn’s nine goals coming from a wide position with Garner through the middle.
But with Garner absent with a foot injury, Waghorn was afforded a central position and certainly made the most of it at Pride Park.
He was bright from the first minute as he searched out the ball, with his presence meaning the Blues delivered it to him on the ground, rather than in the air.
Chipped balls into the channels were brought down expertly, often plucked out of the air with his instep. Rather than looking to win cheap yet valuable throw-ins, he instead looked to bring his team-mates into play.
He linked particularly well with Grant Ward down the right flank, leaving Bersant Celina alone on the left, with Waghorn and Ward combining time and again in the opening 45 minutes as they looked the Blues’ most likely source of attack.
Waghorn’s set-piece delivery was exceptional in the defeat at Villa Park on Saturday, with another superb, whipped, corner leading to the breakthrough at Derby as Callum Connolly headed home for a goal awarded with the help of video technology.
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His tricky feet looked as though they might earn the Blues a second-half penalty, as he went down under a challenge from Curtis Davies, and although there was nothing doing, he remained the visitors’ best outlet.
With Garner not certain to return for Saturday’s clash with Nottingham Forest, Waghorn could well get another go through the middle at the weekend. If he is as effective as he was last night, then the Blues will be served well.
Positive reviews of Waghorn’s display is no knock on Garner, of course, who has led the line superbly during his opening months in Ipswich blue and occupies defenders superbly with his physical approach.
It’s also important to remember Waghorn has been effective from wide, in the goals column at least.
But the striker showing there are options and decisions to be made will certainly serve McCarthy well, going forward, especially given Garner has been nursing a shoulder injury for some time.
If Garner’s absence continues, Waghorn has proved he is more than up to the job.