Big backing, familiar faces and similar styles... MK Dons v Ipswich

Town fans celebrate at Doncaster Rovers.

More than 7,000 Ipswich Town fans will be at MK Dons this afternoon. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town take on MK Dons in an important League One clash at Stadium MK this afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Tyreeq Bakinson celebrates opening the scoring for Ipswich at Doncaster

Tyreeq Bakinson is congratulated by Janoi Donacien after scoring Ipswich Town's winning goal at Doncaster in midweek. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

BREAK THE PATTERN

Town have 15 games left to play.

So what's needed to hit that magic 75 point marker that is *usually* good enough to secure a play-off place?

W7 D7 L1, W8 D4 L3, W9 D1 L5 or, quite simply, win 10 games or more.

So while today's game is not 'must win', it does feel a lot like a 'please don't lose' one.

That will mean breaking the recent pattern of WWL, WWL following successive 1-0 victories against Gillingham and Doncaster. The last time Town won three straight matches was when Matt Gill and Jimmy Walker were in caretaker charge. 

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The 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday a fortnight ago was a sobering result. At some stage, Town will have to beat one or two of their play-off rivals if the gap to the top-six is going to be bridged.

Wycombe (twice) are the only team currently above the Blues who have been bested this season.

After today, it's Burton (h), Cheltenham (h), Morecambe (a), Fleetwood (a), Lincoln (h), Portsmouth (h), Oxford (a), Plymouth (h), Cambridge United (h), Shrewsbury (a), Rotherham (a), Wigan (h), Crewe (a) and Charlton (h).

BLUE ARMY!

Incredibly, Ipswich will be backed by more than 7,000 away fans today. 

MK Dons, on average, get crowds of around 8,500 inside their modern 30,500 stadium. 

In short, this could feel like a home match for the boys in blue. 

“It will be a really special feeling," said McKenna. "The players are really appreciative of it. We hope we can deliver a performance that justifies it."

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna celebrates the away win at Doncaster.

Ipswich Town have won six out of eight games under manager Kieran McKenna. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

FORM GUIDE

This is a third-versus-ninth clash. If you go by the last eight matches form table though, it's third-versus-second.

Ipswich have W6 L2 under Kieran McKenna, conceding just four goals along the way. MK Dons have W5 D1 L1, also conceding just four in that same period.

It's worth noting that MK have won just two of their last four home games though, dropping points against Doncaster (0-1), Gillingham (0-0), Oxford (1-2) and Plymouth (1-1).

SIMILAR STYLE

Ipswich have had the lion's share of possession in all of McKenna's games so far. They're averaging close to 600 passes per game.

MK Dons, of course, are well known for their build-from-the back brand of keep ball too. They average around 500 passes per game.

'Styles make fights' is a term you often hear in boxing. Will these two cancel each other out today? Or will it simply be a case of who executes their principles better on the day?

Alternatively, McKenna might come up with a bespoke game plan. He has insisted, when asked about the possession stats, that 'this is not a beauty contest' and referenced the poor state of the pitch.

Sam Morsy is chased by man of the match Harry Pell at Accrington Stanley.

Ipswich Town skipper Sam Morsy, left, is available again after serving a four-game ban. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


SKIPPER'S BACK

Sam Morsy's controversial four-game ban has been served.

McKenna says his skipper has been 'competing like a real warrior' in training during his absence. Let's hope he channels that pent up frustration in the most positive of ways today.

It's great to have him back. Even though Town won three matches without him, there's no doubting they missed his grit and drive.

You'd imagine, all being well, Lee Evans will be the man to partner him in the middle of the pitch. The Welshman 'isn't 100%' after returning from a recent groin injury though, says McKenna.

Tyreeq Bakinson has probably put himself at the front of the queue to play if Evans isn't passed fit following a much-improved midweek display.

Macauley Bonne applauds fans after the game.

Macauley Bonne has scored one goal in his last 18 games. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

ATTACKING TOOLS


It's impossible to guess which combination of attacking players McKenna will go with, given how he's regularly rotated them over recent weeks.

Last weekend, against Gillingham, it was James Norwood on the left, Conor Chaplin on the right and Joe Pigott up top. Then, at Doncaster on Tuesday night, it was Chaplin and Bersant Celina both playing as No.10s in behind Macauley Bonne.

The classy control of Sone Aluko and pace of Kayden Jackson are two others options at McKenna's disposal.

It'll be interesting to see which tools the considered Northern Irishman thinks are right for the job today. Creative players picking up the ball in pockets of space between the lines? Or aggressive forward players sparking a high press? We'll see.

Chaplin is the only one of the seven players mentioned to have scored across the last six games.

Milton Keynes Dons' Troy Parrott (left) and Charlton Athletic's Albie Morgan battle for the ball dur

Ex-Ipswich Town loanee Troy Parrott plays up front for MK Dons. - Credit: PA

FAMILIAR FACES

There are plenty of familiar faces in the MK Dons ranks.

Manager Liam Manning came through the Ipswich academy ranks as a player and started his coaching journey at Playford Road.

The 36-year-old has former Town U23s boss Chris Hogg, plus ex-Blues players David Wright and Lewis Price, on his staff.

And in the playing squad there's Troy Parrott and Connor Wickham.

Parrott, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Ipswich from Tottenham, has scored three goals in 30 appearances for the Dons so far.

Wickham, who burst on the scene as a 16-year-old at Ipswich before making a big money move to Sunderland, signed a short-term contract at Stadium MK last month after being released by Preston. He's been restricted to four sub outings thus far.