McCarthy warns that Jonny Williams may be restricted to a bit-part role after five month injury battle

Jonny Williams, pictured in agony after a crude challenge by Watford's Joel Ekstrand left him with a

Jonny Williams, pictured in agony after a crude challenge by Watford's Joel Ekstrand left him with a thigh injury last November. Williams hasn't played a competitive game since. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has warned supporters that returning loanee Jonny Williams may be limited to a bit-part role during the team’s Championship promotion push.

The popular Welsh international’s return to the club was met by a great deal of excitement last week, but he won’t go straight into the starting line-up for Friday’s crunch clash with Bournemouth at Portman Road.

That’s because the tricky 21-year-old midfielder has only just returned to full training, almost five months after a crude challenge by Watford’s Joel Ekstrand left him with a troublesome thigh injury that led to numerous other niggles and set-backs.

“To get Jonny back in is fantastic,” said McCarthy, whose side are sixth in the table heading into their final seven matches. “But he is still getting back to full fitness and hasn’t played a first-team game since he got injured here against Watford.

“He is not going to come in and play seven games just like that. We will be guided by him, but he’s got a part to play for us.

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“He is loved by everyone at the club and he’s going to add some real quality to our squad. Having him back with us has given everyone a lift.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy has appeared to confirm that Zeki Fryers – also recruited from Palace on loan last week – will go straight into the team for Friday’s televised tea-time match with the table-topping Cherries.

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“We have no real recognised left-back with Bournemouth coming up on Friday,” said the Town manager. “Jonny Parr is struggling with a hamstring problem and Tyrone Mings is suspended (for the next two games, including a trip to Huddersfield on Easter Monday) so getting Zeki in is important.

“He joined Palace (from Tottenham for a reported £5m) on transfer deadline day in August when they couldn’t get Tyrone (a £3m bid rejected) so there is a bit of irony there.”

Fryers, 22, will be with the Blues for the rest of the season, including the play-off semi-finals and final if Town are involved, while Williams’ deal covers the potential semi-final matches but would expire just before the final.

Meanwhile, McCarthy has confirmed that both David McGoldrick and Darren Ambrose have returned to training but that he will have to ‘be careful’ with them.

McGoldrick, Town’s 16-goal talisman of 2013/14, struggled to rediscover top form in the first half of the season following a lengthy knee injury. He still managed to score seven times though and his clever link-up play has been missed at times of late, the forward missing the last 10 games with a troublesome thigh problem.

Experienced midfielder Ambrose was just beginning to hit his stride, after signing a mid-season deal, and produced an encouraging display in the 2-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday early in February. A hamstring injury then struck and has kept him out of action for the last nine matches.

“Didz (McGoldrick) was back out on the training field yesterday and so was Darren Ambrose, so that’s obviously good news, although we have to be careful with them,” said the Blues boss.

“We have a few still out though. Jonny Parr is struggling with a hamstring injury and Kevin Bru pulled up in the Watford game with a sore calf. We will have to see how they are over the next few days.”

Meanwhile, Noel Hunt says he may yet be able to return to action before the end of the seaosn.

The 32-year-old Irish forward – who scored a memorable last-gasp winner at Charlton, as well as two important goals at Millwall – suffered medial knee ligament damage in the 2-1 win at Fulham on February 14.

“I really thought I would be out of action for at least three months but I am back cycling at the moment and I think I will be fit for the tail end of the season,” he said.

“I am feeling stronger every day and I am happy with the way things are going.

“I would love to be playing now, especially following the victories against Bolton and Watford. If we can beat Bournemouth on Good Friday I believe we could make the top two.

“There are a lot of twists and turns to come yet and with most of the top teams playing each other and we will be right there on the last day of the season.

“The Bournemouth match is massive, we know that but now that the confidence is back following the last minute win over Watford the lads are more than capable of beating them.”

Chris Wood may not start against the Cherries having featured for New Zealand in a 1-0 friendly defeat in South Korea yesterday afternoon.

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