Mick McCarthy has praise for Chambers and Smith – but knows a new centre-back is priority

TIME is running out for Blues boss Mick McCarthy to add a new centre-back to his depleted ranks before Town’s first assault on the FA Cup this season.

The Town manager currently has just two recognised centre-backs to call upon, Luke Chambers and Tommy Smith, as he plots a cup shock at struggling Aston Villa.

Danny Higginbotham back-tracked on extending his loan deal, a decision that happened so quickly that the McCarthy-penned notes in the club’s matchday programme for Brighton said he was delighted to keep the Stoke City man.

Instead, the 33-year-old made his debut for Sheffield United at Doncaster after completing a free transfer to Bramall Lane.

Rookie Tyrone Mings, primarily seen as a left-back but someone who could deputise in the centre, was included on the New Year’s Day bench but he is cup-tied for Villa Park after featuring for former club Chippenham Town in the qualifying rounds of the competition.


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With Bradley Orr also made unavailable by his parent club Blackburn for Saturday’s match, McCarthy would arguably have to turn to Guirane N’Daw as a makeshift centre-back should anything happen to Chambers or Smith.

While the pair looked a little edgy in Tuesday’s home defeat to Brighton, McCarthy heaped praise on the duo’s performances over the festive period.

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He said: “The fragile nature of the team means the spine is there – but we have the two of them and no one else.

“They are not the biggest, but they are two good competitors who have been excellent. I have been delighted with them.”

McCarthy has continually been linked with defenders Ronald Zubar and Richard Stearman, both from his former club Wolves.

But he said: “I have been linked with a lot of the Wolves players. One, because they are good players. And two, because I have managed them. I’m hoping it will be a busy January – I’m certainly looking to get some reinforcements.”

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