MATCH PREVIEW: Confident Ipswich Town have every reason to believe they can beat Derby County

Derby County's Craig Bryson (bottom centre) celebrates with his team mates after scoring his sides f

Derby County's Craig Bryson (bottom centre) celebrates with his team mates after scoring his sides fifth goal of the game against Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match at the iPro Stadium, Derby. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ipswich v Derby: Two teams brimming with confidence and still dreaming of Championship play-off glory go head-to-head at Portman Road tonight.

OVERVIEW

Two teams brimming with confidence and still dreaming of Championship play-off glory go head-to-head at Portman Road tonight.

Ipswich Town remain very much in the mix for a top six finish following their 2-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. It was the fourth time in a row that Mick McCarthy’s spirited side had followed up defeat with a win and reduced the gap to the play-off places to just five points with nine games to go.

Four games without a win or a goal scored may have seen Derby’s automatic promotion hopes ended recently, but they put that run firmly behind them with a 5-0 thumping of East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.


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The Rams have been on the rise ever since Steve McClaren arrived last October, his first game that dramatic 4-4 draw against Ipswich – the visitors having led 4-1 at the break. Since then they have lost just five times, those defeats coming against Leicester, Burnley, QPR, Wigan and Millwall.

MICK’S MUSINGS

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Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says revenge is the last thing on his mind heading into tonight’s home match against Derby County.

The Blues led 4-1 at Pride Park on a Tuesday night last October but ended up drawing a dramatic match 4-4.

Asked if that would be a game he’d look back on with regret should his side end up falling just short of the play-off places, McCarthy replied: “No, no. I could look back at several games thinking that, but I tend not to do that.

“You can’t do anything about it, so all you tend to do is beat yourself up if you keep thinking ‘what if?’ You know the old line about ‘if my auntie had… she’d be my uncle’. That’s how I look at life.

“If you look back and have regrets about everything then you become bitter and twisted and you can never move forward.”

Derby had just sacked manager Nigel Clough following a 1-0 defeat to rivals Nottingham Forest leading up to that game. Replacement Steve McClaren watched his new team from the stands and delivered the half-time team talk in a classic game of two halves.

The Rams went on win 10 of their next 13 matches and, ironically, it was their 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest at the weekend which led to Billy Davies getting the sack.

“That (the 4-4 draw) was a crazy game,” said McCarthy. “I think it turned their season around. Steve McClaren came in and from that draw they really kicked on.

“It was bonkers. We could have scored seven or more in the first half, but we could have lost the match in the second half.

“It turned because they got that goal back so quickly in the second half. It takes a deflection off Cole (Skuse), it goes 4-2 and you could smell the comeback. Whatever we tried wasn’t working, it was like someone pulled the power out of our lads.

“It was disappointing, but you have to give them a bit of credit. As they have proven, they are a top side.”

TEAM NEWS

IPSWICH TOWN

– Anthony Wordsworth was handed his first league start of the season at Brighton and is set to retain his place as Cole Skuse remains sidelined.

“He’s not fit,” said Mccarthy, when asked about Skuse, who had started every league match prior to picking up a leg injury in the 3-1 home defeat to Wigan. “Best case scenario for Cole will be Saturday (home game against Nottingham Forest).”

Asked if Wordsworth was capable of playing two games in four days, he replied: “He seems okay, but he’s not going to tell me anything other is he? He’s not going to come in limping.

“He’ll be fine. If he does start and runs out of gas then I’ll have some subs on the bench. Players get by on adrenaline.”

– The Blues yesterday signed young Manchester City winger Alex Henshall on loan until the end of the season. The direct-running 20-year-old’s first team experience has been limited to brief spells on loan at Chesterfield and Bristol Rovers so far. Having impressed during a week-long trial his role is likely to be limited to that of an impact substitute at best.

– McCarthy has confirmed that striker David McGoldrick will not play again this season with there having been a previous suggestion he could return from his knee injury in time for the last few games. He said: “He’s not going to be fit for any of the season. He’s halfway into his recovery, he’s got his brace on and he’s walking around like the bionic man at the moment. We’re just focused on getting him fit for the start of next season.”

DERBY COUNTY

– Striker Jamie Ward injured his hamstring during Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest and is set to be replaced by Johnny Russell.

n Highly-rated England Under-21 midfielder Will Hughes was rested at the weekend after picking up a minor knock in the previous game. He could return to the starting XI tonight in place of George Thorne.

– Midfielder Simon Dawkins remains sidelined with a groin injury.

– Craig Bryson scored a hat-trick at the weekend. He has now scored 15 league goals this season, the same as striker Chris Martin.

LIKELY LINE–UPS

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-1-1): Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Anderson, Hyam, Wordsworth, Hunt; Wiulliams, Murphy.

DERBY COUNTY (4-3-3): Grant; Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Bryson, Kendrick, Hughes; Russell, Martin, Bamford.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Many expected Ipswich Town’s top six hopes to be derailed by the season-ending injury to talisman David McGoldrick, but Jonny Williams has filled his void since joining on loan.

The Crystal Palace man may not score the goals McGoldrick did, but he certainly adds a sprinkling of star dust to a hard-working and organised side. The Welsh international has formed a good partnership with striker Daryl Murphy and produced a display full of skill and tenacity at Brighton on Saturday.

In Will Hughes, Derby have a talented young midfielder also tipped for the very top. The England Under-21 international was rested for last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest having picked up a knock in the previous game. Could well return to the starting line-up tonight.

LAST MEETING Derby County 4 Ipswich Town 4

Mick McCarthy’s men let a 4-1 half-time lead slip as Derby County kick-started their campaign with a fine comeback draw in front of watching new boss Steve McClaren.

Christophe Berra and Daryl Murphy put Town 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, Zak Whitbread halved the deficit before a goal from Aaron Cresswell and another from Murphy.

The Rams ran riot after the break though, Craig Bryson scoring twice either side of a Jamie Ward goal.

PREDICTION

Ipswich Town 2 Derby County 1

Derby may have thrashed Forest 5-0 at the weekend, but that had as much to do with their rivals’ complete lack of confidence if anything. Prior to that, the Rams had gone four matches without a victory or a goal.

Hard-working Ipswich, meanwhile, continue to compete on a consistent basis. Rarely have they blown teams away, but hardly ever have they been played off the park.

With Jonny Williams providing the X-Factor at present they could well pull this off tonight.

COVERAGE

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