MATCH PREVIEW: Crawley Town v Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town and Crawley Town will meet for the very first time tonight, in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
The Blues’ recent history in the competition is not great – they have been knocked out at the first round stage in two of the last three seasons – but did make the semi-finals in the 2010-11 season, eventually losing out to Arsenal over two legs.
As for the Red Devils, Crawley have only been a Football League club since 2011 but reached the third round in 2012-13 where they lost out to a last-minute Garry Monk goal, Premier League Swansea winning 3-2 at the Broadfield Stadium.
Two very inexperienced line-ups, in terms of minutes on the pitch together, will go head-to-head tonight.
Blues boss Mick McCarthy is the model of consistency when it comes to his team selections, but the 55-year-old’s hand has been forced tonight, with several players nursing knocks from Saturday’s victory over Fulham.
The likes of Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick, Luke Hyam and Cole Skuse would have been certain starters had tonight’s game been a league encounter, but with the Capital One Cup carrying less importance – certainly in the early stages – they will not be risked.
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That will give several fringe players the chance to impress, while teenagers Matthew Clarke and Jack Marriott will make their full debuts for the club. New signings Bartosz Bialkowski and Kevin Bru are likely starters too.
As for Crawley, manager John Gregory carried out an extensive overhaul of the Red Devils’ squad in the summer and only two players remain from last season – a campaign which saw them finish mid-table, 10 points above the drop-zone
The former Aston Villa and Wycombe boss drafted in 17 new faces during pre-season, including former Colchester defender Ryan Dickson and ex-MK Dons striker Izale McLeod and they got off to a winning start at the weekend, 1-0 at relegated Barnsley.
The revolution at Crawley is very much in its infancy, while Town boss McCarthy’s resources have been stretched, not that he is moaning about it. Instead, he is urging his players to take their chance.
On being asked if the fixture was a distraction, McCarthy said: “The fixture has been there for ages, so it does not matter.
“It’s just when you get knocks and bumps and bruises amongst a squad of about 20 established professionals.
“We have got to play it though and it should be a great opportunity for somebody.
“I picked the team on Saturday and some of them will have thought they should have been playing, but they didn’t and we won, so they can’t complain.
“I can’t do anything about their attitude towards it (selection) or towards this game, if they are thinking ‘I am only playing in this game because...’ well actually, you are playing it to give me a headache and make sure that if I am looking to pick someone else next time, you are first on the list.
“I expect whatever team I do put out to produce a performance.”
He added: “Squad rotation should be able to work for some of the bigger teams in this competition but I have to say, for some of them (Ipswich players) Tuesday has come too quick.
“There were two or three players that were going down with cramp but when you consider we covered 7km more as a team than Fulham did on Saturday, whether that was chasing the ball or whatever, that’s a shift we put in.
“That probably played a big part in us winning the game.”
Tonight’s opponents are relative new-boys to the Football League but McCarthy revealed his admiration for the Red Devils and recalled how his team were lucky to earn a victory in pre-season last summer.
“We played them last year and I thought they were very capable,” explained McCarthy.
“It was not easy last year and we were lucky to come away with a win.”
Blues boss Mick McCarthy is without 10 first-team regulars for the trip to Crawley.
David McGoldrick, who scored on his return from a long-term injury in the 2-1 home win over Fulham, has a sore groin and will be rested as a precaution. Strike partner Daryl Murphy, who also netted against the Cottagers, misses out, also as a precaution, with a sore calf.
Cole Skuse is having a scan on a foot injury picked up in Saturday’s win and will not play, while Luke Hyam (cramp), Tommy Smith (sore groin) and Tyrone Mings (back and cramp) will also not be risked.
Paul Anderson (hamstring) and Jonathan Parr (groin) are not ready for tonight but could return at Reading on Saturday, while Stephen Hunt (calf) and Cameron Stewart (broken jaw) remain sidelined.
Academy products Matthew Clarke and Jack Marriott will make their full debuts as will goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski and potentially Mauritian midfielder Kevin Bru. Academy midfielder Teddy Bishop will be on the bench.
Josh Simpson hobbled off at Barnsley and could be replaced by Bobson Bawling.
Izale McLeod should lead the attack in a 4-5-1 formation.