Returns for Webster and Celina, McGoldrick’s role and pushing Skuse - McCarthy has decisions to make for Burton
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As Ipswich Town prepare to face Burton Albion this weekend, manager Mick McCarthy has a number of decisions to make.
Webster or Carter-Vickers?
The arrival of Cameron Carter-Vickers came at a time when the Blues were desperately short on centre-halves, meaning the Tottenham loanee went straight in from the start when making his debut at Bolton on January 20.
He has since played in the defeat by Wolves and the victory over Sunderland alongside captain Luke Chambers, looking strong on the ground but perhaps suspect in the air against physical Championship opponents. He reads the game well and is excellent with his feet - taking the ball down, moving out of the back four and looking to play forward passes. It must be said, too, that Chambers has been excellent of late.
But Adam Webster is Town’s future and, now recovered from the Achilles injury which kept him out for a month, there will be many who think he should start.
He has shown steady improvement during his two injury-interrupted seasons at Portman Road, with his reading of the game, stature in the air and ability on the ground making him one of the best defenders in the Championship. There is also the argument that a player on a short-term loan deal should yield to a full-time Ipswich Town player.
McCarthy has shown in the past he is reluctant to change a winning side, though, so it should come as no surprise if Carter-Vickers is again named in the Blues’ boss’s starting XI.
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The Celina conundrum
There was much discussion on social media when Bersant Celina appeared only as a substitute on the Blues’ team sheet at Sunderland.
The Kosovan didn’t make it onto the field at the Stadium of Light, but it mattered not as Ipswich ultimately secured a 2-0 victory at the relegation-threatened Black Cats.
They did so with Freddie Sears playing Celina’s usual wide-left role, with McCarthy hoping the former Colchester man’s industry and added defensive qualities would help frustrate a Sunderland side whose heads dipped as soon as they slipped behind.
But surely a home game with the league’s bottom side requires a different approach.
Though he has certainly had quiet games, Celina has regularly been the Ipswich player most likely to make things happen.
Burton’s defence is the most porous in the Championship, with 58 goals conceded, which presents Ipswich with an opportunity to show their attacking intent and put on a show for their home fans.
Where does McGoldrick fit in?
An interesting subplot between now and the end of the campaign concerns just how David McGoldrick fits into the Ipswich Town side.
The striker was subject of late transfer deadline day interest from Bolton Wanderers, while there is the very real possibility his time at Ipswich could come to an end this summer when his contract expires.
Injury ruled him out at Sunderland while he also missed a month after suffering a nasty gash to his groin in November, but when he has played he has been deployed in a wide right role which is far from his best position. He has struggled for form as a result, while he has not found the net since the draw at Hull in November.
On his day we know he is capable of producing match-winning moments, but those days have been rare in recent months. To get the best out of him he surely needs to be deployed in the No. 10 role behind Joe Garner - a position McCarthy prefers to use Martyn Waghorn in.
With Celina, Grant Ward, Sears and new signing Mustapha Carayol all available in the wide positions, it figures McGoldrick faces a real fight for minutes on the pitch during what could prove his final months as an Ipswich player.
How hard to push Skuse?
Cole Skuse is a calming influence on the Ipswich midfield and he has struck up a good relationship with Callum Connolly in the Town engine room, but he didn’t look fully over his ankle injury at Sunderland on Saturday. He has been playing through the problem he originally suffered against Reading in December, without ever looking completely comfortable.
In Stephen Gleeson, McCarthy has a player capable of passing and moving in the middle of the park, meaning Skuse doesn’t need to be raced back to fitness when he’s not quite ready.
When is Muzzy’s moment?
New signing Carayol was an unused substitute at Sunderland, just days after completing his deadline day move to Portman Road.
His attacking flair was not required from the bench at the Stadium of Light, with two goals before the break securing the win against a side worryingly short of fight, but Town fans will be keen to get a glimpse of their new man soon.
Ipswich look so much better with two natural wide players in the wide positions, with Carayol’s addition giving McCarthy an extra trick up his sleeve.