A homecoming, friends reunited and a Portman Road debut - talking points as Town and Coventry battle until a winner is declared
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town and Coventry City go head-to-head once again this evening. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the third installment of the battle between the sides.
Third time lucky
Three hours of football has yet to produce a winner between Ipswich Town and Coventry City, but that has to change this evening.
We head into the deciding rubber of this mini-series following two 1-1 draws, firstly in the initial staging of this cup tie and then in the league, with the same again at Portman Road tonight taking the game to extra-time and then the lottery of penalties.
While there are likely to be changes again on either side, these two teams know each other well and there shouldn't be any surprises.
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This will be the first time Ipswich have held home advantage, though, so it's up to them to make it count.
Time to make a mark
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Luke Chambers is set to miss out once again with a troublesome neck injury, meaning Luke Woolfenden and James Wilson are likely to continue in the middle of defence.
There's potential for a return for Toto Nsiala, though, with the big centre-half back in training after a spell out with a hamstring injury.
It's been a funny old season for the former Shrewsbury man, who appeared to be a certain starter on opening day before a summer hamstring injury kept him out for two months and prompted Ipswich to bring Wilson in as a free agent.
That's limited Nsiala to just five games this season and just 45 minutes of league football - which didn't go particularly well.
He'll be looking to take his chance tonight if he's fit to play, while the likes of Myles Kenlock and Jordan Roberts will also be hungry for further opportunities to show what they can do.
James Norwood and Kayden Jackson could potentially be reunited this evening - that's what Coventry boss Mark Robins is expecting, anyway.
Will Keane's got two in two against the Sky Blues but, as the club continue to manage his return from injury, they may feel two games in quick succession is still beyond the former Manchester United youngster.
Norwood was suspended for the weekend league game while Jackson was only used from the bench, with the two playing together just twice during the last 44 days.
Neither found the net during November but continue to lead Ipswich's scoring charts on seven.
It's time to get the band back together.
Barry Cotter certainly celebrated his 21st birthday in style.
The young Irishman was back on the pitch for Ipswich Town for the first time in 585 days in the EFL Trophy win at Peterborough, performing well during the 90 minutes before ultimately slotting home the winning spot kick.
It was only his third Ipswich appearance and it came, remarkably, under his third different manager (Mick McCarthy, Bryan Klug and Paul Lambert).
His debut, of course, came the night McCarthy ultimately left Ipswich Town and, despite putting in an excellent display that night, he hasn't played for the first team at Portman Road since.
But could that be about to change?
With Janoi Donacien's good form making him the first choice right-back while Kane Vincent-Young is sidelined, the deputy position is left vacant.
The Irishman wasn't involved for the Under 23s in their 4-1 loss at Millwall yesterday, perhaps pointing to at least a place on the bench when Ipswich look to progress in the cup tonight.
Last time Cotter played at Portman Road for the first team he passionately saluted the North Stand at the final whistle, seemingly taking on the regular ritual of captain Chambers while he was out injured.
Hopefully he will be able to do the same under the lights tonight as part of the now customary group celebration.
A home debut
Another young man not involved for the Under 23s yesterday was Brett McGavin.
The midfielder has made quite the impression during his three Ipswich appearances of late, growing in stature in each game.
He started Ipswich's last FA Cup replay, against Lincoln at the end of November, before then putting in his best display yet during the EFL Trophy win at Peterborough.
He's calm, confident in possession and, when called upon, can have bite in the tackle. He put a pair of beautiful passes into the channels for Roberts to run onto during the first half at London Road, as he once again showed Lambert he can be replied upon.
All three of his previous games (the first of which came at Colchester in the Trophy) have been away from home, so making his Portman Road bow would be a big next step.
It may have to come from the bench, but it feels like it will arrive sooner rather than later.
As well as the £54,000 in prize money, on offer for the two teams this evening is the chance to visit either Plymouth Argyle or Bristol Rovers in round three.
That would represent a winnable tie and a realistic route to round four for either Coventry or Ipswich, of course, with that game played over the weekend of January 4 and 5.
It would also complete a two-game tour of the south west, given Lambert's men are in EFL Trophy action at Exeter the following midweek.
They're certainly racking up the miles this season.