‘He owes it to the supporters to pick his strongest side,’ says Town legend Osman

Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor are yet to oversee an FA Cup win in charge of Ipswich Town (three dra

Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor are yet to oversee an FA Cup win in charge of Ipswich Town (three draws, four defeats). Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town legend Russell Osman believes Mick McCarthy owes it to supporters to pick his strongest possible team for Saturday’s FA Cup Third Round visit of Championship rivals Sheffield United.

The Blues have slipped to 12th in the table after claiming just one point from four festive games, with a 17th successive season in the second-tier looking increasingly likely.

Town haven’t made it past the first hurdle of the FA Cup since 2010, with McCarthy having fielded much-changed sides for replay defeats against lower league sides Preston, Portsmouth and Lincoln in recent years. His options, however, are limited tomorrow due to no fewer than 17 players being injured, suspended, cup-tied or out on loan.

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“I’d play my strongest XI at every possibility. I think he owes it to the supporters to give them something to cheer about,” said Osman, who was part of the Town’s FA Cup and UEFA Cup winning squads in ‘78 and ‘81.

“Never mind ‘demeaning the competition’, resting players would be demeaning to the Ipswich supporters. It’s looking like mid-table mediocrity again and they’ve had enough of that.

“I don’t get all this resting, rotating stuff. In ‘81 I played 66 games, 70 if you include internationals. Players are too mollycoddled these days.”

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The former centre-half turned pundit, continued: “We’re playing a team from the same division at home. It’s a great chance to progress to the next round. Why play a weakened side?

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“A win or two in the cup could kick-start the second half of the season. A win on Saturday sets you up nicely for a home game against Leeds the following weekend. With added confidence we could beat them and suddenly everyone is thinking ‘aye, aye, here we go’.

“I live in Bristol and I’ve seen how much excitement Bristol City fans have got from getting to the League Cup semis. Ipswich fans need something to look forward to.”

Osman added: “It’s not the same competition it was and that’s a real shame. It used to mean something getting to Wembley, but now you play there if you make the semi-finals or draw Tottenham away.

“The massive prestige has diminished for one reason or another and most clubs put out lesser sides to concentrate on the league sadly.”