MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers boss Mark McGhee predicts an exciting game with Ipswich
Ipswich v Bristol Rovers: Mark McGhee has insisted his side will do “everything they possibly can” in an attempt to pull off a cup shock at Portman Road tonight.
The experienced Bristol Rovers manager will be hoping to emulate the achievements of Northampton Town who last year knocked Ipswich out of the league cup at the first hurdle.
McGhee said: “It is an unusual way to start the season, but it is an exciting game for us. Ipswich is always a tremendous place to go and play football. It’s a game we are up for and it is the game that we have really been focusing on all the way through pre-season.
“We will do everything we possibly can to make progress, but if we don’t get through then we will live with that.
“We’re playing a Championship team away from home so we certainly won’t be favourites going there.
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“If we could get a result to get us into the next round then it would be a tremendous achievement, but it won’t change our lives either way.
“We have an important game against Oxford on Saturday and that would be the game I’d prefer to win if I had to choose, but let’s see, we might win them both.”
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Like his counterpart tonight, McGhee also goes into the cup match struggling with injuries and still looking to improve his squad, who finished 13th in League Two last year but who are gunning for the play-offs this time around.
Right-back Dan Woodards broke his leg last season and will miss the start of the campaign as will first-choice keeper Scott Bevan who had an operation on a wrist injury, also sustained last year.
Bevan had initially hoped to make the start of the season but is now out until October – prompting McGhee to quickly sign former Nottingham Forest stopper Paul Smith who will make his debut tonight.
Matthew Lund, a loanee midfielder from Stoke, has been struggling with an Achilles problem and will not be risked while Eliot Richards, a back-up striker, is with Wales Under-21s.
Also making his debut tonight will be 22-year-old German winger Fabian Broghammer who impressed in the Pirates’ 2-1 home friendly defeat against Coventry City on Saturday.
Rovers are expected to start with a 4-4-2 formation with former Celtic, Brighton and Colchester United defender Adam Virgo in the heart of the defence and ex-Scotland international striker David Clarkson leading the line.
* Follow @davegoods and @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for all the team news, reports and reaction from Portman Road tonight