Match preview: Charlton friendly is last chance for Ipswich Town players to stake claim for opening day place
Ipswich Town take on Charlton Athletic, at The Valley, in their final warm-up game for 2017/18 tomorrow afternoon. Stuart Watson previews the game.
Injuries and illness have prevented Mick McCarthy naming anything near a full-strength team throughout this pre-season. Many players remain absent, while others are still getting up to speed. Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi and Teddy Bishop are all struggling to be ready in time.
The positive is that several homegrown players have been able to catch the eye – notably midfielder Flynn Downes – but the negative is that preparations are not as advanced as they would normally be with just a week until the big kick-off.
Places up for grabs
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McCarthy was asked, following Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Colchester, whether he had his starting XI in mind for next Saturday’s Championship opener against Birmingham City, at Portman Road. His sarcastic reply was ‘not a clue’, but there must be a couple of big calls he’s yet to make.
Will it be Myles Kenlock or Jonas Knudsen at left-back? Dominic Iorfa or Jordan Spence at right-back? Who will partner Cole Skuse in central midfield? Will it be David McGoldrick or Freddie Sears alongside Joe Garner up top?
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Tomorrow’s team will provide a big hint to Mick’s thinking.
The Addicks finished 16th in their first season back at League One level last season as supporters staged various protests against the way Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet is running the South London club.
Ex-MK Dons boss Karl Robinson replaced the sacked Russell Slade in the managerial hot-seat last November and is now preparing for his first full campaign at the helm.
Norwich City won 2-0 at The Valley on Tuesday night, but the home side had a goal disallowed and penalty appeals turned down during an impressive first half performance.
Town have already faced former players Jack Marriott (Gillingham), Lee Martin (Peterborough) and Tom Eastman (Colchester) in pre-season and that trend continues today with Charlton having signed striker Billy Clarke this summer.
The Irish striker, now 29, burst on the scene as a Town teenager back in 2005 and scored four goals in 23 starts and 33 substitute appearances over a four-year period. After several loan spells away from Portman Road, he eventually signed for Blackpool and has had subsequent moves to Crawley and Bradford.