Is Saturday’s trip to rock-bottom Rotherham the right time to experiment?
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy may just experiment with his team a little for Saturday’s Championship dead rubber at rock-bottom Rotherham. Here are some of his options for change.
RIGHT TO EXPERIMENT?
Town boss Mick McCarthy has always said he wouldn’t experiment with his team until they are mathematically safe. Easter weekend victories against Burton and Newcastle have assured that’s the case with three games to play.
It will be difficult to make too many alterations to the side following Monday’s scintillating display against the Magpies, but Saturday’s trip to rock-bottom Rotherham represents the best opportunity to take a look at some fringe players and/or kids.
After that the Blues host play-off chasing Sheffield Wednesday and then travel to relegation-fighting Nottingham Forest. They’ll have a duty to others in the league to take those games as seriously as possible.
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TIME FOR TEDDY?
Less than two years ago silky young midfielder Teddy Bishop was being hailed as a Premier League player in waiting after his outstanding breakthrough season. As a teenager he made 33 league starts when the Blues reached the Championship play-offs.
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Since then a whole host of injuries – ranging from shin splints to hamstring and groin troubles – have severely put the brakes on his development. Just four senior appearances in 2015/16 has been followed by six starts in this stop-start campaign.
Bishop has been training for more than fortnight now and completed two full games for the Under-23s in that time, scoring in a 2-1 win at Millwall.
McCarthy said: “He’s a been a big loss to the team because he’s a good player. But I haven’t got a magic wand to get him on the pitch. They keep getting him fit and he keeps breaking down. Let’s hope this time it’s a bit longer.”
Town plucked Danny Rowe and Kieffer Moore from non-league at the end of the January transfer window.
A decent-sized fee of £100k was given to Macclesfield Town to lure away direct and tricky winger Rowe. The 25-year-old has impressed for the Under-23s and caught the eye with his brief cameo at the end of the 3-1 defeat in Cardiff.
Towering striker Moore, 24, has made eight substitute appearances so far – the last of which was in the goalless home draw with Wolves at the start of March. The £10k recruit from Forest Green has only been on the bench twice since then and appears well down the pecking order behind David McGoldrick, Freddie Sears, Tom Lawrence, Brett Pitman and Dominic Samuel.
Jonny Williams and Dominic Samuel have both seen their loan spells decimated by injury.
Popular Welsh international midfielder Williams, borrowed from Crystal Palace for a third time, has been out since injuring his shoulder in the 3-2 win at Wigan prior to Christmas.
Striker Samuel arrived from Reading on January deadline day then promptly broke his toe in training. He’s highly-rated by Royals fans and shown a glimpse of his ability in three substitute appearances.
Is there any point in Town playing either if they don’t plan to try and sign them this summer?
CALL BACK KUNDAI?
Ex-Spurs youth midfielder Kundai Benyu fell out with Mick McCarthy over an ‘attitude problem’, apologised and has now got his career back on track on loan at National League side Aldershot Town.
The 19-year-old has scored five goals in 20 appearances for the play-off chasing side. McCarthy is likely to leave him there to gain experience in pressure situation matches before taking a good look in pre-season.
A further four academy graduates are also on loan in non-league’s top-flight – defender Joe Robinson (St Albans), as well as forwards Shane McLoughlin (Bromley), Ben Morris (Woking) and Monty Patterson (Braintree). Recalls are highly unlikely.
CALL UPON KIDS?
Andre Dozzell is the obvious go to youngster if McCarthy decides to experiment on Saturday. The England Under-18 international midfielder burst on the scene with a debut goal at Sheffield Wednesday this time last year, but has been restricted to just eight senior appearances this season.
Fellow technically-gifted midfielders Tristan Nydam, 17, and James Blanchfield were both on the fringes of the first-team squad back in pre-season. McCarthy said back then that Blanchfield would ‘contribute this season’. Nydam recently made his England U18 debut and was an unused sub for the first team at Huddersfield back in January.