It’s been hard to get mentally prepared, admits McCarthy

Mick McCarthy before kick-off at Cardiff on Saturday

Mick McCarthy before kick-off at Cardiff on Saturday - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Barnsley: IPSWICH Town manager Mick McCarthy admits it has been hard for his players to get mentally prepared for a game that remained in the balance for so long.

The Blues will host second-from-bottom Barnsley at Portman Road this afternoon after officials gave the green light following a pitch and stadium check at 9am this morning.

The playing surface has been protected from the frost by a heated tent all week, but had been a safety concerns due to the snow which has fallen all week.

“The weather’s had a dreadful impact on training,” said McCarthy. “We’ve had to train in the dome and, although that’s a great facility, it’s just a different surface and it changes the stride pattern. You can end up with tightness of groins and calves and backs.

“It’s funny, because the players have enjoyed training in there. It’s a nice, flat surface and the ball gets zipped about, but I had to bring them off yesterday [Thursday] because if you too much of it you end up feeling sore.”

He continued: “The main problem I think is the mental issue.

“We’re down here, we know there’s a doubt with the game and that’s in the back of your mind.

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“Barnsley jump in the bus, set off and think ‘if we get turned around, we get turned around’. They’re mentally prepared for a game.

“We’re thinking ‘we’re not sure’ and waiting for an inspection. You come in with a game head on Friday morning and you leave at lunchtime not quite sure.

“It’s never good when it’s up in the air a bit.”

Ipswich have claimed an impressive 24 points from a possible 42 since McCarthy’s arrival, with last weekend’s excellent goalless draw at table-toppers Cardiff following superb away wins against Charlton and Wolves.

The Blues have found things tough when they’ve carried the label of favourites though, with struggling Peterborough and Bristol City both holding them to 1-1 draws on Suffolk soil.

“They were our worst two performances,” admitted Barnsley-born McCarthy, whose side are six points clear of the relegation zone.

“Now we’re playing against Barnsley, who are beneath us, and people will be turning up and expecting us to win. It doesn’t always work like that though. They’ve got a new manager [David Flitcroft] and beat Leeds last weekend.

“It’s just about getting enough points to keep us up – it doesn’t matter where they come from.”

Barnsley sacked manager Keith Hill at the end of December after the Tykes slipped to the bottom of the table. And after failing to attract Terry Butcher and Sean O’Driscoll to the club, Hill’s former assistant, David Flitcroft, was given the job after claiming back-to-back home wins against Burnley (1-0 in the FA Cup) and Leeds (2-0 last weekend).

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