‘I’d prefer to be in the Premier League than win the FA Cup,’ says McCarthy

Ipswich Town players trudge off the field following their FA Cup defeat at National League side Linc

Ipswich Town players trudge off the field following their FA Cup defeat at National League side Lincoln City last season. Photo: Pagepix

Mick McCarthy wants to finally win an FA Cup game in charge of Ipswich Town – if only to postpone a league game for his injury-hit squad later this month.

Freddie Sears is likely to be handed a rare start for Town this afternoon. Photo: Steve Waller

Freddie Sears is likely to be handed a rare start for Town this afternoon. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The Blues haven’t won a game in the competition since 2010, suffering third round replay defeats to lower league sides Preston, Portsmouth and Lincoln in recent years.

And with a 17th successive season in the Championship looking increasingly likely, Town fans are desperate for some cup excitement 40 years on from Sir Bobby Robson’s men lifting the world famous trophy.

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Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s home tie with Championship rivals Sheffield United, who are likely to name a reserve side due to their upcoming Steel City derby with Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night, McCarthy said: “I want to win the game, I’ll be happy to win the game, because we’ll get another FA Cup tie then and that would push a league game back (Wolves at home) which would allow us to get some reinforcements and some players fit. That would really help in terms of our league campaign.

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“The competition has been diluted by the money in the Premier League. Being in the Championship and winning the FA Cup would be great – I want a medal, of course I do – but I’d prefer to be playing in the Premier League.”

McCarthy has traditionally named much-changed sides for knockout football, but his options are limited today with no fewer than 18 players unavailable due to injuries, suspension, ineligibility or being out on loan.

Town, down to 12th and seven points adrift of the play-off places following a winless Christmas run, host Leeds in their next league game.

Luke Hyam will make his first senior start in 19 months today. Photo: Pagepix

Luke Hyam will make his first senior start in 19 months today. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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“I don’t want a replay (which would come a week on Tuesday) and I would imagine Chris Wilder wouldn’t either,” said McCarthy.

“I remember last year we were 2-1 down (to Lincoln), equalise in the last minute, are all delighted, and then go up there and get beat by playing lousy.

“We would have been better off getting beat here, although I didn’t think that in 90 minutes and it will be the same tomorrow.

Myles Kenlock is set to start in a much-changed Blues side. Photo: Steve Waller

Myles Kenlock is set to start in a much-changed Blues side. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

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“I’m making some changes to the team because we’ve just had four games in a very short space of time and I certainly can’t afford any injuries.

“They will all be first team players though.”

Teenage striker Aaron Drinan could make his Town debut after completing a switch from Irish side Wat

Teenage striker Aaron Drinan could make his Town debut after completing a switch from Irish side Waterford. Photo: Doug Minihane - Credit: Archant

OPPOSITION LOWDOWN

Team name: Sheffield United

Nickname: Blades

Manager: Chris Wilder (May ‘16: P80 W46 D14 L20)

Position: 7th

Away form: P13 W5 D2 L6 F17 A18

Current form: DLWDLLLDLW

Last five finishes: 1st, 11th, 5th, 7th, 5th (all League One)

Top-scorers: Clarke (15), Sharp (8)

Most assists: Duffy (8), Stevens (4)

Last game: D 1-1 Derby (a)

Next game: Sheff Weds (h) – Friday

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TEAM NEWS

Ipswich Town

• Grant Ward suffered a ‘slight groin tear’ in Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat at Fulham to join a packed treatment room.

• Emyr Huws (knee), Teddy Bishop (hamstring) and Andre Dozzell (knee) are all ruled out for the season.

• Dean Gerken (hip), Adam Webster (Achilles), Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Tristan Nydam (hip) and Flynn Downes (blood tests following fatigue) all remain sidelined.

• Jordan Spence starts a three-match ban following his red card in midweek. • Luke Woolfenden (Bromley), Chris Smith (Chelmsford), George Fowler, James Blanchfield (both Aldershot), Josh Emmanuel (Rotherham) and Danny Rowe (Lincoln) are all out on loan. • Kieffer Moore and Adam McDonnell are both cup-tied having featured in the competition for Rotherham and Aldershot respectively. • McCarthy has confirmed Luke Hyam will make his first senior start in 19 months following several injuries. • Cole Skuse (bruised ankle) is likely to be rested, while Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner could also be taken out the line of fire following four games in 11 days.

• Blues boss enquires about loan move for Brighton defender

Sheffield United

• The Blades have, by all accounts, looked leggy of late. One win in nine has seen them slip out the top six. Chris Wilder could ring the changes today given his team host rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

STAT ATTACK

8 – Town’s total shots on target in last 4 games

6 – Points claimed from 27 by Sheffield United

2010 – Last time Town won an FA Cup game (P11 D4 L7)

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LAST MEETING

Sheffield United 1 Ipswich Town 0

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2017

Chris Basham’s 48th minute header proved the difference as Town suffered a fifth league defeat in seven.

The Blues switched off after the restart and then struggled to find a way back into the game against a side comfortable in possession.

ODDS

Ipswich Town (22/9) Draw (27/11) Sheffield United (11/8)

REFEREE

Mike Jones (Chester) Games: 16, Yellows: 85, Reds: 1

STU’S PREDICTION

Ipswich Town 1 Sheffield United 0

Blades’ focus is on Friday’s Steel City derby. Blues to scrape through. Do fear a stale game and dreaded replay.

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