McCarthy hoping for defensive improvements with Webster and Smith available again
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is hoping his side will tighten up defensively now that centre-backs Adam Webster and Tommy Smith are available again.
The Blues may be among the leading Championship goalscorers (20 in 10), but they have also conceded more than most too (16).
There have been mitigating circumstances, a host of injuries meaning it’s often been a patched up back four with the likes of Jordan Spence, Dominic Iorfa and Jonas Knudsen all having played out of position.
Webster and Smith are back now though after both missing a lot of football this calender year. It’s a timely boost given the tough-looking run of fixtures coming up – starting with Saturday’s game at third-placed Sheffield United.
“I’d like to think we can tighten up more and not give the goals away we have,” said McCarthy.
“Bristol City were good two weeks ago (winning 3-1 at Portman Road), but two of their goals were deflected when all is said and done.
“There are other games where we’ve not helped ourselves though. Against Sunderland we score five, but I’m still not happy with the two we conceded.
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“When you get defenders back you hope that you’ll concede less goals. But, if we’ve got the amount of attacking players on the pitch that we have, then it does make it harder to shut up shop.”
Webster, 22, took the step up from League Two side Portsmouth in his stride at the start of last season, exciting fans with his comfort on the ball before an ankle injury effectively ended his campaign in January. He returned to the starting line-up for the Carabao Cup tie at Luton back in August only for his ankle to give way again.
“He looked a really good signing,” said McCarthy. “It’s been such a shame that he’s had the injuries because he really was thriving at this level and everyone was enjoying watching him play.
“I think he would have been attracting a lot of attention had he carried on playing as well as he been. There were clubs looking at him because the reports on how well he was playing and how highly I was speaking of him don’t go unnoticed.”
He added: “He’s great on the ball, but he should be concentrating on keeping it out the net this weekend.”