Ipswich Town’s marathon men have the legs and heart, says manager Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich v Doncaster: Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy believes his squad has both the legs and the heart to gatecrash the play-off party.

The Blues boss has used just 28 players this season, has just 19 outfield first team players available at present, with nine of them – Dean Gerken, Luke Chambers, Christophe Berra, Tommy Smith, Aaron Cresswell, Cole Skuse, Luke Hyam, David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy – having made more than 30 starts each.

It’s created a real togetherness among a small group of level-headed personalities, with the spirited Suffolk squad refusing to let their chances of promotion die in recent weeks. Having followed up all five of their last five defeats with victories, Town are just two points adrift of the top six heading into the final five matches of the Championship campaign.

“They are good characters,” said McCarthy, speaking ahead of today’s home game against Doncaster. “They certainly get coached and managed correctly; they’re not just left to stew if they’re not playing. Me and TC (assistant boss Terry Connor) speak to them and make sure they are feeling alright about it.

“It’s vital that everyone pulls in the same direction. You have to have a squad that is supportive of each other; whether they are in the team or out the team. They can be upset, they can be angry, but they have to support the guys that are in the team. That’s not always the case, but I think that’s what we’ve got here.”

Following back-to-back away trips to Blackburn (2-0 defeat) and Huddersfield (2-0 win) last Saturday and Tuesday respectively, Town’s run-in continues with the visit of relegation-fighting Doncaster today before Easter weekend matches against top-six rivals Watford (a) and Bournemouth (h).

The season then concludes with a trip to a Burnley side that could well have sealed automatic promotion by then, followed by a season-finale against mid-table Sheffield Wednesday. And McCarthy doesn’t envisage his players hitting the wall on what just so happens to be London Marathon weekend.

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“I’m a firm believer that they need to rest come this stage of the season,” said the Blues boss. “We make sure that we temper our training sessions accordingly and sometimes let them have days off to spend time with their families and just relax.

“If they’re not fit now then they’ll never ever be fit. I would actually argue that we’re the fittest team in the league, certainly as fit as anybody else.”

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