Mick McCarthy wary of Ipswich Town being too open against Birmingham City

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has been criticised for not getting the attacking balance right with

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has been criticised for not getting the attacking balance right with his team selections. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says his team can’t afford to go into Saturday’s crucial home game with Birmingham City with a gung-ho approach.

This is a meeting of two of the Championship’s most out-of-form sides – both have won just twice in all competitions this calender year and both are just five points above the relegation zone with eight games to play.

A positive team selection and fast start to the match would go a long way to getting an increasingly disgruntled set of fans behind the team.

“I would think that Gianfranco (Zola) will expect us to set a high tempo to get us going and to get the crowd going,” said McCarthy. “But there’s got to be an element of making sure we keep the back door shut because the last thing we want is to be pressing, pressing, pressing and suddenly find yourself one down after getting caught on the break.”

Birmingham were on the edge of the play-off places following a 2-1 home win over Ipswich back on December 13, but manager Gary Rowett was controversially sacked by new owners the very next day and replaced by ex-Chelsea striker and Watford boss Zola.

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The Midlands side have tumbled down the table under the Italian, but come into this match off the back of hard-fought draws against Cardiff and Newcastle.

“They were playing great and everybody thought it was a strange decision,” said McCarthy. “I didn’t get the sense the fans wanted a change of manager when we went there, so you can’t say it’s a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’.”

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The Blues boss continued: “They’ve had some good results and good performances recently. I saw them on TV at Wolves (at the end of February) and they won a big pressure game (2-1). They were good at Cardiff recently too (1-1). They are a threat, no doubt about it.”

With his side currently on 45 points, McCarthy was asked if winning on Saturday and then beating second-bottom Wigan at Portman Road on Tuesday night would seal safety.

“I would hope that would be the case,” he said. “In the first season we stayed up, I think Peterborough went down with 54 points. I can’t see it being that needed again. We can only take care of our results.”

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