Wolves will offer great test to Jewell’s new boys
Ipswich Town fans will today get their biggest hint yet as to who will start Paul Jewell’s first full Championship season at the club.
With the big kick-off at Bristol City seven days away, today’s home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers will give everyone a massive insight into the manager’s thinking.
As well as representing a serious test of the new-look Blues’ credentials, thousands of home fans inside Portman Road will get big clue over who Jewell favours in the centre of his defence, his front two and his captain, among other dilemmas.
Grant Leadbitter is expected to lead the side out after largely getting the nod over other candidates, Lee Bowyer and Damien Delaney, in pre-season matches.
Elsewhere, Nathan Ellington has fully recovered from a shoulder injury sustained in training and the Duke will be looking to impress after a stop-start pre-season thus far.
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Among the conundrums for Jewell will be who gets the nod at left-back with little, thus far, to choose between the youth of Aaron Cresswell and the experience of Mark Kennedy, who played more than 170 games for Wolves during a five-year spell at Molineux.
While further up the field, Town’s newest signing, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, has made it clear that he is gunning for a spot behind Michael Chopra upfront. Wolves will be missing England winger Ryan Jarvis (groin), David Edwards (back) and Adlene Guedioura (ankle).
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Ipswich will treat today’s match as a small indicator of what might lie ahead over the next nine months. But it also highlights the growing chasm between the Premier League and the Championship.
During their two-year stay in the top tier of English football, Wolves have always flirted with relegation, last year securing safety by just one point.
But while Jewell has shrewdly picked up free transfers and bargain signings, their opponents have just stumped up �4.5 million for defender Roger Johnson as well as possessing a �6.5 million striker in Kevin Doyle.
Throw in the likes of Stephen Hunt, Adam Hamill and Jamie O’Hara, who has moved permanently to Molineux from Tottenham, and Ipswich are in for a real test this afternoon.
Ipswich: David Stockdale, Marton Fulop, Carlos Edwards, Jack Ainsley, Jaime Peters, Ivar Ingimarsson, Damien Delaney, Tommy Smith, Aaron Cresswell, Mark Kennedy, Josh Carson, Lee Bowyer, Grant Leadbitter, Andy Drury, Luke Hyam, Colin Healy, Lee Martin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Michael Chopra, Nathan Ellington, Jason Scotland, Tamas Priskin.
Wolves: Wayne Hennessey, Dorus De Vries; Richard Stearman, Roger Johnson, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi, Kevin Foley, Jody Craddock, Ronald Zubar; Michael Kightly, Karl Henry, Jamie O’Hara, Stephen Hunt, Stephen Ward, Adam Hammill, Nenad Milijas, David Davis; Kevin Doyle, Steven Fletcher, Andy Keogh, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Leigh Griffiths.
Wolves’ pre-season so far
n July 16: Crewe Alexandra (A) 1-2, Doyle.
n July 19: Walsall (A) 3-2, Kightly, Griffiths, Berra.
n July 23: Notts County (A) 1-1, Jarvis.
n July 27: Celtic (A) 2-0, O’Hara, Twardzik-og.
n July 30: Ipswich Town (A)
n August 6: Real Zaragosa (H)