Mick McCarthy challenges his side to go the entire season undefeated at Portman Road

Mick Mccarthy surveys the Portman Road pitch. PHOTO: Simon Parker

Mick Mccarthy surveys the Portman Road pitch. PHOTO: Simon Parker

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has challenged his team to go the entire season unbeaten at Portman Road.

Championship football returns to the Suffolk stadium this afternoon, Sheffield Wednesday the visitors as the Blues aim to build upon last weekend’s encouraging 2-2 draw at Brentford and 2-1 home victory over Stevenage in the League Cup.

Town, along with Middlesbrough, had the joint-best home record in English football’s second tier last season. There were 15 wins, five draws and just three defeats (Norwich, Derby, Reading), while only 18 goals were conceded in those 23 games.

Asked if he wanted more of the same, an upbeat McCarthy replied: “Of course – I’m hoping for better. I hope we don’t get beat at home and we get more points there than we did last season, that would be terrific.

“I often say it, we are geographically challenged when it comes to travelling to games all the time. But they all have to come here too.

“I remember being at Sunderland and thinking what a schlep it was down here. You travel on a Friday afternoon and always get stuck in the traffic.”

Last season’s spirited sixth-place finish and gallant play-off semi-final defeat to bitter rivals Norwich City won back the hearts and minds of many Town supporters.

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More than 13,500 season ticket sales have been sold (a 16 per cent increase on the final figures) and a crowd of more than 20,000 is expected at Portman Road this afternoon.

Tuesday night’s cup win proved that the squad has greater strength in depth, while the addition of flying wingers Ryan Fraser and Ainsley Maitland-Niles has certainly made Town’s style of play more easier on the eye.

“I looked at the team that played at Crawley last year in the League Cup first round and the one that started against Stevenage on Tuesday night and the squads are night and day when you compare them,” enthused the Blues boss.

“The squad is better and I’d hope for better things this season as a result. I’m hoping we can be better than last year. That’s putting pressure on myself isn’t it?

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