It will take ‘wild horses’ to stop Mick McCarthy getting off his sick bed today
Ipswich v Middlesbrough: HAVING spent all week in his sick bed stewing over his side’s last performance, it will take a lot to keep Mick McCarthy away from Portman Road today.
The Blues boss was apoplectic after he watched his team somehow turn a comfortable a 1-0 half-time lead into a 2-1 defeat at Bristol City last weekend.
Worryingly, a few of the old demons symptomatic from the Paul Jewell regime – failure to kill games off and lapses in concentration at key times – were present. And all of a sudden, having looked like the hard work was done, the Blues are right back in the heart of a relegation dogfight.
McCarthy had to go home from work on Tuesday due to illness and has not been at the training ground since.
Owner Marcus Evans sealed the additions of Stephen Henderson, Richard Stearman and Anthony Wordsworth before the transfer window shut though, while loyal right-hand man Terry Connor has been getting the team prepared on the training pitch.
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“I think it will take wild horses to keep him away,” said Connor, whose side host Middlesbrough at Portman Road this afternoon.
“The only way to get the gaffer as angry as he was last week is to be 1-0 up, lose a goal straight after half-time and then lose it in the last minute!
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“We’ll try tomorrow to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Having had the week that he’s had, we want to make sure he finishes it off with a smile on his face and a positive outlook.”
He added: “Mick will pick the team. We’ve worked together for a number of years now so I know the sort of thing he’d like to see in training. I’ve been feeding everything back to him and he’ll be able to pick a team from last week’s performance and the feedback I’ve been giving him.
“Obviously you want your top man there, but if he’s not fit then we’ll carry on. As I said though, I think it will take wild horses to keep him away.”
There will be plenty of familiar faces in the Boro camp today.
With former Blues favourites Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus in charge, the visitors’ midfield could also include two more former Town players. Grant Leadbitter has been the Teesiders’ most consistent player this season following his Bosman switch from Portman Road last summer, while ex-Blues star Kieron Dyer could make his debut for the club following a deadline day transfer.
Town have struggled to break down the likes of struggling Peterborough, Bristol City and Barnsley on Suffolk soil recently, but prior to that they recorded impressive home wins over the more expansive Nottingham Forest and Millwall.
Today’s match against an attacking-minded Middlesbrough side who have lost six of their last seven away games is therefore a good opportunity to provide the Portman Road faithful with some much-needed cheer.
– For live match updates, follow @Stuart_Watson and @ChrisBramms on Twitter.