Coming up short, Wolves wounded and will McGoldrick play? – Ipswich Town v Wolves preview
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Ipswich Town host Championship league-leaders Wolves at Portman Road tomorrow afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Coming up short
Ipswich Town may be only six points adrift of the Championship play-off places, but they increasingly are looking very much in their natural home placed 12th in the table.
Mick McCarthy’s men have claimed just three points from a possible 30 against the division’s leading eight teams – a 1-0 backs-to-the-wall win at Derby at the end of November.
The nine defeats against Wolves, Derby, Cardiff, Aston Villa, Bristol City, Sheffield United, Fulham (twice) and Middlesbrough have come by an aggregate score of 14-3.
Current form is not great either. The Blues have claimed just four points from their last six games and even those successes were laboured – a goalless home draw with QPR on Boxing Day, an unconvincing 1-0 home win against 10-man Leeds and last weekend’s ugly 1-1 draw at lowly Bolton.
Worryingly, Town have averaged just two shots on target per game since the middle of December. At one stage they were the leading scorers in the division, but have now slipped to seventh in those rankings.
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There are some reasons to be hopeful heading into tomorrow’s game.
Wolves squad may have cost in excess of £50m to assemble and may be nine points clear at the top, but the West Midlands side are currently on a mini winless run.
Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest was their first league loss since October and only their second home league defeat of season.
Prior to that they lost an FA Cup third round replay 2-1 at Premier League side Swansea following a goalless draw in the original game at Molineux. In the middle of those knockout games was a goalless draw at Barnsley.
“I wouldn’t say it’s tiredness, it was just sloppiness last Saturday,” said Wolves skipper Conor Coady. “Forest were very organised, they pressed when they had to and they sat in and defended well.
“For us, I don’t feel we did enough defensively or attacking. We conceded two sloppy goals which isn’t like us but also we didn’t create enough. It’s about going back to the drawing board.”
Town can certainly take heart from their performance in the reverse fixture just before Christmas when Ivan Cavaleiro’s fine strike just before half-time was the difference. Town were beaten but far from disgraced that day.
Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping his side, who haven’t been blowing teams away with the same panache as the early stages of the campaign, are rejuvenated following a warm weather training camp in Marbella this week. Ten wins from their final 18 games should be enough to secure promotion.
Jordan Spence has served his three-game ban, issued for his red-mist moment at Fulham, just in time as stand-in right-back Dominic Iorfa is ineligible to face his parent club.
Cole Skuse recently missed three league games with an ankle problem and withdrew injured at half-time last weekend after being caught by a late Gary Madine challenge.
New signing Stephen Gleeson, recently recruited on a free transfer from Birmingham, is likely to be handed his full debut.
McCarthy said the Irishman was ‘a miles above anyone else’ after replacing Skuse at the break. There is an element of damning with faint praise there, given how dreadful the first half was, but the 29-year-old did look like he can add some positive passing to the midfield.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season, produced an encouraging debut at The Macron Stadium and should make his home debut alongside Luke Chambers at the heart of the defence.
Will McGoldrick play?
The transfer window shuts at 11pm next Wednesday and Town are reportedly ready to cash-in on David McGoldrick to the tune of £500k rather than him walking away for nothing when his contract expires this summer.
Championship quartet Cardiff, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham are all said to be interested. The question is whether the Blues will risk playing the 29-year-old so close to deadline day.
One, will his head be in the right place? Two, do Town want to risk him picking up an injury to scupper the move?
Skipper Chambers played for Town on deadline day last year just hours after the plug was pulled on a move to Nottingham Forest. This situation is slightly different though.