‘This is an important game for Paul Lambert,’ says Mick McCarthy

Aston Villa v Ipswich Town: IPSWICH Town manager Mick McCarthy has called upon his fired up fringe players to heap further pressure on Blues pantomime villain Paul Lambert when his side face Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round today.

Villa boss Lambert is a controversial figure in East Anglia having departed Colchester United to guide Norwich City into the top-flight with back-to-back promotions. Along the way he masterminded 5-1 and 4-1 victories over Town.

This afternoon, a travelling army of Blues fans – 2,900 tickets were snapped up within minutes of going on general sale – head to Villa Park hoping for revenge.

Town are a side quickly climbing up the Championship table under their new boss, while a young, injury-hit Villa are just a point above the Premier League relegation zone after conceding 17 goals in their last four matches.

And with the Blues set for multiple changes to their strongest team due to a combination of ineligibility, injury and fatigue following the hectic Christmas period, there will be a number of visiting players keen to impress.

“This is a really important game for Paul,” said McCarthy who once led Sunderland to the semi-finals of this prestigious cup competition.

“I don’t know his circumstances, but it seems to me that the club is trying to whittle away a few of the bigger earners and older players. They’ve gone with youth and they’ll probably have a team next year that can progress.

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“It’s tough. If you try and change a whole ethos at a club everybody has got to be brave enough to stick with it.

“I like Paul, he’s a really good guy, he did wonders down here at Norwich and is just a good manager. He’ll always get the best out of his players.

“He’s been fabulous. The awful thing about the Barclays Premier League is you can be flavour of the month, manager of the year, everybody loves you and then all of a sudden people are thinking ‘oh, he could get the sack here’. I’ve been there, done that.

“The league for them is vital. If they could lose this cup tie and guarantee survival I’m sure they’d do it. If I could say we’d lose this and finish halfway up the league, I’d probably take it. You can’t do that though, nobody can do it.

“There will be a lot of changes in my side – some through necessity, some through me wanting to have a look at some.

“I know we will have a lot of travelling fans and I hope they don’t see it as me being disrespectful to the competition, it’s just that my squad is a little bit bare to say the least.

“One thing I can promise people is that whoever has the shirt will be running around and biting at Villa trying to win that game, don’t you worry about that. The players will all know that’s what I expect.”

– Follow @Stuart_Watson and @davegoods on Twitter for live match updates from Villa Park