Match preview: Derby haven’t conceded a goal since Town’s Ram-raid

Bartosz Bialkowski gives former team-mate Tom Lawrence a hug after Ipswich's win at Derby. Photo: Pa

Bartosz Bialkowski gives former team-mate Tom Lawrence a hug after Ipswich's win at Derby. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town host Derby County in a Championship match at Portman Road on Saturday. STUART WATSON previews the latest instalment of the festive action.

Callum Connolly scores his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Callum Connolly scores his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Games coming thick and fast

This is game three of five in a hectic 15-day turn-of-the-year schedule.

Town boss Mick McCarthy rotated his squad for the tame Boxing Day goalless home draw with QPR, making five changes to the side which had narrowly lost 1-0 at Wolves prior to Christmas.

After Saturday comes a trip to Fulham (January 2), followed by the FA Cup third round visit of Sheffield United (January 6).


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Midfield woes

It was heartbreaking to see Teddy Bishop limp off with a hamstring injury less than 45 minutes into his first start of the season.

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The Blues now have eight central midfielders sidelined, with Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell (both knee) out for the season, Cole Skuse (missed the last two with a bruised ankle) a doubt for tomorrow, and Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Flynn Downes (calf), Tristan Nydam (hip) and Luke Hyam (knee) seemingly all not ready to return to action just yet.

Who will partner Callum Connolly tomorrow? Kevin Bru missed the QPR game as he was attending a funeral and comes back into the equation. Grant Ward has played centrally before and could be called upon.

Callum Connolly celebrates his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Callum Connolly celebrates his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Rams out for revenge

Town kept up their incredible record at Pride Park (W7 D3) with a battling 1-0 win on November 28, the Blues standing firm after Connolly’s expert early header.

Conversely, Derby have rather enjoyed coming to Portman Road in recent times though, their 3-0 victory last season making it four wins from five on Suffolk soil.

Since losing to Town, Gary Rowett’s men have kept five successive clean sheets and dropped just two points.

Tom Huddlestone (top) and Derby team-mates celebrate David Nugent's second goal in a recent 3-0 home

Tom Huddlestone (top) and Derby team-mates celebrate David Nugent's second goal in a recent 3-0 home win against Millwall. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

They won 1-0 against Burton (h), 3-0 at Barnsley, 2-0 against Aston Villa (h), 3-0 against Millwall (h) and drew 0-0 at Hull on Tuesday to move to within two points of the automatic promotion places.

Curtis Davies, Bradley Johnson, Joe Ledley, Tom Huddlestone, Matej Vydra, David Nugent, Tom Lawrence... This is a star-studded Rams side that really should be challenging at the top.

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Town are now an equidistant 19 points between top and bottom and an equidistant five points between the play-off places and bottom half.

Tom Lawrence scored 11 goals on loan at Ipswich Town from Leicester last season. Photo: PA

Tom Lawrence scored 11 goals on loan at Ipswich Town from Leicester last season. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The next few games could determine how long top-six talk continues.

Team-mate Tommy Smith consoles a devastated Teddy Bishop as he leaves the pitch with a hamstring inj

Team-mate Tommy Smith consoles a devastated Teddy Bishop as he leaves the pitch with a hamstring injury during the goalless Boxing Day home draw with QPR. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

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