Will Keane spring a surprise at Pompey?
IPSWICH TOWN: Will Blues manager Roy Keane spring a surprise and include one of his recent injury victims in his squad for the Championship game at Portsmouth this afternoon?
He revealed that striker Connor Wickham, Damien Delaney and Mark Kennedy might travel down with the team to the south coast.
But having pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the inclusion of Grant Leadbitter at Crystal Palace three weeks ago, will one or more of that trio be considered fit enough to make a return?
With Darren O’Dea rated as 50-50 after damaging a knee while training with the Republic of Ireland squad last week, Delaney who came unscathed through 45 minutes of a reserve game this week would appear the most likely candidate if Keane did include a shock name on his team sheet.
“Playing Grant was a different scenario,” said Keane. “I know it came as a surprise but it was calculated gamble and the worst that could have happened was to put Grant back a day or two.
“Connor and Mark did not return to training until Monday and next Wednesday’s reserve game is their target although they might go down to Portsmouth to get a feel of the first team scene again.
“Damien along with Luca Civelli came through the game on Wednesday unscathed, but it is too early to expect him to play against Portsmouth.”
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In these days of cat and mouse among managers there could be a surprise, but after being unbeaten for the opening six games of the campaign and looking for the fifth consecutive away victory, Keane is likely to keep an unchanged side if O’Dea is fit.
Leadbitter will certainly be in the starting XI and he is looking for the hard work to continue.
“We’ve done well in our first four league games, but have not achieved anything yet,” he said.
“To do that you have to play well for 46 matches.
“There is a busy schedule coming up for us, but the secret is to focus on one game at a time.
“We have a hungry young side and a smaller squad and to achieve anything in life you have to keep winning.
“Portsmouth have brought in a couple of new players and they will give them a lift, and I have no doubt that they will move up the table as the weeks go by.
“Ask anybody in football, and they will say that Portsmouth are not a bad side.”
Leadbitter admits to loving football having been born and bred into the game – and he loves taking penalties having converted against Palace.
Jason Scotland is also handy with the spot kicks, but Leadbitter has no thoughts about handing over the reins.
“It’s mine until I miss,” said Leadbitter. “I try and chip in with as many goals as I can and with Luke Hyam doing so well it gives David Norris and myself licence to go forward more.”
Today’s likely squads
Portsmouth: Ashdown, Sonko, Dickinson, Brown, Mokoena, Utaka, Mullins, Hughes, Nugent, Flahavan, Kitson, Lawrence, Pack, Ritchie, Ciftci, Kanu, Rocha, Naughton.
Ipswich Town: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Smith, O’Dea, Brown, Hyam, Edwards, Leadbitter, Norris, Scotland, Priskin, Murphy, Healy, Eastman, Murray, Hourihane, Griffiths, Lambe.
Referee: Mr S Tanner (Somerset)