Big match preview: Ipswich Town v Derby County – Everything you need to know
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Ipswich Town will be looking to end 2017 on a high when they welcome Derby County to Portman Road this afternoon.
The Blues sit 10th in the Championship table heading into the final game of the year, with performances, results and entertainment value vastly increased during the first half of this season, when compared to the second half of last which saw the club record their worst finish in 58 years.
The final challenge of a tough year sees them face a Derby side they met just a month ago, when McCarthy’s side left Pride Park with three points following a 1-0 victory over the Rams.
Since then, though, Derby have dropped just two points from five games, have not conceded a goal in that time and include former Town loanee Tom Lawrence and Ipswich nemesis David Nugent - who has scored 15 goals in 16 games against the Blues.
McCarthy has been impressed by what he’s seen from Gary Rowett and his Rams and believes the Blues today face a side which will be in the thick of the promotion mix come May.
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“It was a fabulous win for us up there because it was just at a time when we had a bit of a dip and had some big games coming up,” McCarthy said.
“In Gary Rowett they have a manager, a really good manager who sets his teams up very well. They play good football, Derby, they have good players.
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“When he was at Birmingham 12 months ago he was sacked having beaten us the night before and his staff were talking about the money they were going to spend. “It looked like they were going places because Gary had got them playing well, they were just outside the top six.
“Since we’ve beaten them they haven’t lost and haven’t conceded a goal so you can see the level of team they are and how well we’re going to have to play to beat them.
“Derby are on the up so I’ve no doubt they will be at least a play-off contender come the end of the season.”
McCarthy is without a string of midfield options, with Teddy Bishop, Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell out for the season and Cole Skuse, Tom Adeyemi, Luke Hyam and Tristan Nydam not yet available.
“I’ve not had many as bad as this and certainly not all in one position, that’s for certain,” McCarthy said of his run of bad injury luck.
“I don’t think the (physicality of the) Championship has impacted on seven or eight midfield players being injured. Ted’s been injured for a while, Emyr has done his knee but is a big physical specimen as is Tom Adeyemi.
“I could level that a little at Tristan and Flynn because they’ve come out the youth team and bypassed the Under 23s, but even that is nothing like training and playing with the first team.
“The physicality has not impacted on Bish, Luke Hyam, Emyr and Tom.”
Ipswich Town team news
- Teddy Bishop has become the latest Blues midfielder on the injury list, with the devastating news that the youngster has been ruled out for the rest of the season after requiring an operation on the hamstring injury he suffered against Queens Park Rangers on Boxing Day.
- Cole Skuse is absent again, with the midfielder not being risked as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. He could return at Fulham.
- Tom Adeyemi is still not training as he battles back from hamstring trouble.
- Flynn Downes has returned to training after a calf problem.
Derby County team news
- Former Blues loanee Tom Lawrence could start against his former club this afternoon. The Wales international returned to the Rams squad for the Boxing Day draw at Hull, having previously struggled with an ankle problem. Manager Gary Rowett said: “Tom has started most of the games for us this season and has been a really important player.”
- Bradley Johnson, formerly of Norwich City, is a doubt due to a back problem suffered on Boxing Day. “I think he jarred his back and that can be quite debilitating, if it’s stiff and lacking mobility,” Rowett said.
Key opposition man
Tom Lawrence: Ipswich will need no introduction to the Derby playmaker, given his stunning loan spell at Portman Road.
He netted 11 times for the Blues but has so far only managed to score twice for his new side.
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midland) Games: 23. Yellows: 76, Reds: 3
Ipswich Town: 12/5
Derby County: 7/5
Manager: Gary Rowett
(March ‘17: W18 D9 L8)
Ground: Pride Park (33,597)
Last five finishes: 9th, 5th, 8th, 3rd, 10th (all Championship)
Current position: 4th (W13 D6 L5)
Recent form: DWWWWLWWDL
Away form: DWWDWWDDLL
Last game: D 0-0 (a) Hull City
Top scorers: Vydra (14), Nugent (6), Johnson,
Winnall, Russell (4)
Most assists: Weimann, Johnson (4), Vydra, Keogh, Lawrence (3)
Last meeting: Derby County 0-1 Ipswich Town - Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Ipswich Town’s excellent record at Pride Park continued thanks to Callum Connolly’s early header, which ultimately saw the Blues earn three points. They had to defend for their lives late on, but the Blues have now not lost at the home of the Rams since November 2006.
Andy’s prediction: Ipswich Town 1-1 Derby County - The Rams have been on top form of late and, in a game which promises to be another tight one, the Blues would probably be happy with a point.