McCarthy: Win and we put Wolves out of the play-off pack

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has challenged his team to put Wolves out of the Championship promotion pack with victory in tomorrow’s televised clash at Molineux (12.15pm).

Town have won back-to-back home games against Blackpool (3-2) and Cardiff (3-1) to occupy sixth-spot heading into their final three matches.

Wolves have suffered back-to-back away defeats against Birmingham and Middlesbrough to slip three points off the play-off pace.

McCarthy’s mantra has always been that ‘there is no such thing as a bad away point’, but insists his side will go on the attack against his former club.

“They could draw level on points with us if they win, or they could be out of it if we beat them – we’ll be looking to make it the latter,” said the Blues boss.

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“We’ve got to be looking to catch Derby and see if we can finish above them in fifth.”

He continued: “I expect them to try and give us an early barrage, but I’m expecting us to go there and put an early barrage on them and put them on the back foot.

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“We’re not going there to sit in and soak it up and invite pressure. That would be the wrong approach.”

He continued: “If you look at our last two results and their last two results it would suggest that we are handling the pressure better, but we were at home to Blackpool and Cardiff and they were away to Birmingham and Middlesbrough.

“Is that them not handling the pressure or is that them just having two tough games? I know, to my cost, that’s it’s tough for Wolves to go to Birmingham. And Middlesbrough away was never going to be easy for them either.

“All I know is that we’re here with 43 games gone. Having played the way we did at Huddersfield (2-1 loss) and then responded with two good home wins is a sign that we can handle pressure.”

Asked if his team would be one that others would want to avoid in the play-offs, he replied: “I hope that’s the case. I said on Tuesday night, I don’t think we’re the best team in the league, but we’re not a team that people relish facing. None of them are ever rubbing their hands together and thinking ‘happy days, Ipswich next’.

“They always know they’ll get a tough game against us. We’re a hard working team, a disciplined team, but we’ve got good players as well.

“Whatever happens we never give up. Whatever happens this is a group of lads that the fans can be proud of. Let’s hope they are proud of us at two o’clock on Saturday.

“If you’d have told me we’d have 72 points by this stage I’d have thought we’d be a certainty for the play-offs. We’ve over-achieved from that point of view. And yet we haven’t achieved anything yet.”

Asked if he’s enjoying the most evenly-contested Championship promotion race in years, he said: “I love it, I thrive on it, I revel in it. It might not always seem like that when I sit in front of the cameras with a grumpy voice and a sad face, that part of it (facing the media)doesn’t always thrill me, but the football does.”

Having spent six largely successful years at Wolves – including a Championship title and survival in the Premier League – McCarthy said: “Their fans are like fans all around the world. They do drive their team on and are great supporters.

“But they’ve got a team that’s got a chance of being promoted and if they go behind they’ll be moaning and whinging and putting pressure on their team. It then depends how players react to that. If you’re getting a battering, some players hide and for some it drives them on.”

He added: “Facing a former club doesn’t matter to me. It would be the same if I was playing against Celtic, Lyon, Barnsley, Millwall or Sunderland.

“I’m employed here. I’m a professional I want to win the game. I’ll look forward to seeing some old pals. But I’ll enjoy the day all the more if we beat them.”

– Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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