Mick McCarthy admits Ipswich Town would be ‘up poo creek’ without Leicester loanee Tom Lawrence

Tom Lawrence wheels away after putting Town 1-0 up in the Ipswich Town v Reading (Sky Bet Championsh

Tom Lawrence wheels away after putting Town 1-0 up in the Ipswich Town v Reading (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 04 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits his team would be ‘up poo creek without a paddle’ if it wasn’t for Tom Lawrence this season.

The Leicester City loanee took his goal tally for the campaign to 10 in all competitions with a brace in this afternoon’s entertaining 2-2 draw with Reading at Portman Road.

Lawrence has not only netted eight of Ipswich’s last nine goals, but produced a string of scintillating all-round displays too.

“We’d have been up a very muddy river without a paddle if he hadn’t been here. We’d have been up poo creek!” joked McCarthy.

“I just collared him at the end. I love the fact that our fans are singing ‘sign him on, sign him on’. That would be lovely, we all want that.

“There was interest in him during the window, but he wants to play in the Premier League and I think that’s where his future will be because he’s such a good player.

“He’s got really good attributes. He’s tough and he works hard, as well as being very, very good. I just whispered to him ‘I don’t think you’ll have to worry about your future Tom, I think it’s pretty bright mate’.

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“He got a real nasty kick on his instep just before half-time and had a lump like an egg. He had ice on it at half-time, I was concerned he might not come back out, but he’s pretty tough Tom.”

Having been woeful in Tuesday night’s 3-0 home defeat to Derby, this was a much improved display from a Blues side rejuvenated by five changes. New boys Stephen Taylor, Toumani Diagouraga and Emyr Huws all impressed, while David McGoldrick also caught the eye in what was his first start in more than a month.

“It was certainly a really good, positive reaction from Tuesday night having been comfortably beaten,” said McCarthy. “That performance was unpalatable and unacceptable, today’s was completely different.

“I made a few changes and I think the new faces have helped to liven the place up and give us all a bit more of a spark.

“I thought today’s performance was great. I think, and I’m not one who sees it through rose-coloured specs, we probably deserved to win it.

“It’s Sod’s Law that a 35-yarder flew in the bottom corner.”

He continued: “Not everything turned to gold in terms of what we tried to do (in the transfer window), but I’m delighted that the ones who have come have made an impact.

“It doesn’t matter where they have come from and how much they have cost, they want to be here. Whether it’s starting out on a career in pro football, like Danny Rowe, or trying to resurrect a career and get it going again, like Toums (Diagouraga) and Emyr Huws, they want to be here and they’ve given the place a lift.”

Town have seen their gap to the Championship relegation zone cut to eight points ahead of a tough-running look of fixtures – Aston Villa (a), Brighton (a), Leeds (h) and Norwich (a).

“If the rest of the season is anything to go by we’ll be hopeless at Villa and get beat won’t we?!” said McCarthy, with a wry smile. “That’s the way it’s been. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

“I don’t think it will be. I think the competition for places is far better and maybe a little bit of insecurity makes you work hard. Maybe people can’t rest on their laurels. I’m not saying they were, but we had 12/13 players at one point with a lot of kids on the bench. We look stronger now.”

With the Town fans really getting behind the team today, the Blues boss – who said in the week that Portman Road was an ‘unpleasant place for me to be at the moment’ – added: “I’ve said all along that it’s only us that can make it a pleasant place with our performances. I’ll take losing if we play like that. I can tolerate losing if we play like that. I don’t want to lose, of course, but if we play as well as that you can think ‘okay, here are some positives’ and move forwards.

“The fans were great, they were terrific. They reacted and responded to what was a good performance. I thought they were good from the very start when I was walking up the track. It was nice support.”

Asked if there was anything in the loan contracts of Diagouraga and Huws that allowed Ipswich to make the moves permanent in the summer, he said: “No, there’s not. It’s whether they like it and love it enough to come and whether their clubs don’t love them enough and want to get shut of them.

“We’ve got to capture their hearts and minds a little bit and make them want to come here.”

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