MATCH PREVIEW: Wigan’s squad is stronger than ours but I know we’ve got a good team, says Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Ipswich v Wigan: Ipswich Town begin a make-or-break four-game spell with the visit of Wigan Athletic today.

OVERVIEW

Ipswich Town begin a make-or-break four-game spell with the visit of Wigan Athletic today.

Tuesday night’s hard-fought 1-0 win at Yeovil means the low budget but spirited Blues are still very much in contention for a top six finish with 11 games to go.

Mick McCarthy’s men have proved consistently competitive throughout the campaign but will have to take points off of their main rivals to stand any chance of gatecrashing the play-off places.


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This afternoon’s game against Wigan (seventh) is followed by a trip to Brighton (eighth) and then back-to-back home games against Derby (third) and Nottingham Forest (fifth).

Uwe Rosler’s side arrive at Portman Road having won their last seven matches in all competitions. Wins at Premier League duo Cardiff and Manchester City have put them into the FA Cup semi-finals and on course to repeat their fairytale success in the world famous competition, while victories at Nottingham Forest and Brighton means that only goal difference keeps them out of the play-off places with two games in hand to come.

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However, it wasn’t a vintage display from the Greater Manchester outfit in Wednesday night’s 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. Keeper Ali Al Habsi was fortunate not to be sent off when he conceded a penalty that he subsequently saved, with the hosts then sealing victory in the 88th minute via a controversially awarded spot-kick.

QUOTES

His side may have generally come up short against the eights teams currently above them in the table, but Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy would be more than happy to see some repeat performances against the Championship’s big hitters over the next three weeks.

Aside from the comprehensive 3-0 defeat at runaway league-leaders Leicester last month, the Blues have always proved competitive against those leading the way.

Yet those fixtures have only yielded eight points from a possible 30. Home wins over Brighton and Reading (both 2-0) were supplemented by a 4-4 draw at Derby (a game in which Town led 4-1 at the break) and a hard-fought goalless draw at Nottingham Forest.

Leicester, Burnley and QPR were made to work hard for their wins at Portman Road (2-1, 1-0 and 3-1 respectively) , while Town arguably deserved more from their early season losses at QPR (1-0 courtesy of a 90th minute goal) and Reading (2-1 sealed via a deflection).

The 2-0 defeat at Wigan last September was certainly a scoreline which did not reflect the game.

“We’ve played alright against the teams above us,” said McCarthy. “That game at Wigan was probably one of our best performances of the season, never mind one our best away performances.

“We were all over them, but we just couldn’t score and then made two mistakes which they punished.

“The next four games are a watershed moment for us. If we can play as well as we have done against the teams above us so far then I will be delighted.

“Wigan have got a better chance of making the top six than us because they are above us, they have two games in hand and they have a bigger, stronger squad than we have to be fair.

“They will know that this is not an easy place to come to though. I know we’ve got a good team, I’ve got good lads.”

TEAM NEWS

IPSWICH TOWN

– Striker Frank Nouble started three matches in a row following David McGoldrick’s season-ending knee injury but he was left behind for Tuesday’s trip to Yeovil due to a tight hamstring and will not be risked today .

– Anthony Wordsworth has trained fully after missing the long trips to Middelsbrough and Yeovil with a back injury.

– Crystal Palace loanee Jonny Williams could be handed his full debut after impressing as a substitute in midweek.

WIGAN ATHLETIC

– The Latics have suffered three key injuries in midfield in recent weeks. Ben Watson suffered a double leg break in the 2-0 home win over Barnsley last month, Chris McCann fractured his knee cap in the 2-1 FA Cup semi-final win at Manchester City last weekend, while Roger Espinoza has just undergone hernia surgery.

– Rosler moved quickly to replace Watson, signing Ryan Tunnicliffe – who made 29 appearances for Ipswich earlier in the season – on loan from Fulham. The 21-year-old made his full debut on Wednesday night.

– Manchester United loanee Nick Powell made his comeback from a long-term hamstring injury on Wednesday night, coming on as substitute for his first appearance since January 28. Shaun Maloney (hip) and skipper Gary Caldwell (Achilles) are also closing in on a return to action.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

IPSWICH (4-3-3): 22 Dean Gerken, 4 Luke Chambers, 6 Christophe Berra, 5 Tommy Smith, 3 Aaron Cresswell, 16 Paul Green, 8 Cole Skuse, 19 Luke Hyam, 11 Paul Anderson, 9 Daryl Murphy, 25 Jonny Williams.

WIGAN (4-3-3): 26 Ali Al Habsi, 24 James Perch, 17 Emmerson Boyce, 25 Leon Barnett, 22 Jean Beausejour, 14 Jordi Gomez, 17 James McArthur, 31 Ryan Tunnicliffe, 29 Nicky Maynard, 33 Martyn Waghorn, 11 James McClean.

LAST MEETING

WIGAN 2 IPSWICH 0

Ipswich Town were left to rue missing several first half chances at the DW Stadium.

Luke Chambers headed against the bar before Ryan Shotton nodded home from a corner (12). The Blues then created chance-after-chance, with Scott Carson saving a close-range Daryl Murphy shot and McGoldrick twice putting headers just off target.

Wigan added another, against the run of play, in the 89th minute when Nick Powell capitalised on a Dean Gerken mistake.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Ipswich Town centre-back Christophe Berra produced another man-of-the-match display in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Yeovil.

The experienced Scottish international could well pip injured topscorer David McGoldrick to the Player of the Season award if he keeps up his good form over the remaining 11 matches.

He’ll certainly need to be at the top of his game against a red-hot Wigan side today.

Martyn Waghorn has scored two goals in six games since joining on loan from Leicester, adding to an impressive list of striker options which also includes Nicky Maynard, James McClean, Nick Powell, Callum McManaman and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

OPPOSITION TALK

Ryan Tunnicliffe, Wigan Athletic midfielder

“They (Ipswich) run, run, run and never give up. They like to run teams off the pitch and they score goals by pressing. Our style is pretty similar and Ipswich will have to be wary of us just as much.

“My time at Ipswich was great, it made me grow up and mature on the pitch and off the pitch. When I left the club I said I’ll have friends for life there because all of the lads were great. It’s a strange situation for me because I played for Ipswich in the last meeting and I remember feeling disappointed.

“My aim now is to focus completely on Wigan Athletic and to help make sure we continue our recent run at the weekend.”

PREDICTION

IPSWICH 0 WIGAN 2

There is no escaping the fact that Wigan are the form side in England at present. Seven straight wins in all competitions, including away wins against Cardiff, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Brighton.

Ipswich have kept four clean sheets in a row at Portman Road and made life difficult for the top teams on their home patch, however, there could be a gulf in class between the sides today due to a gulf in budgets. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing the Latics back in the top-flight next season.

LIVE MATCH UPDATES

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