Mick McCarthy hopes Daryl Murphy doesn’t come back to haunt Ipswich Town at Newcastle United

Could former Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy line up against his old teammates for new side Newcastle U

Could former Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy line up against his old teammates for new side Newcastle United this weekend? - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has everything crossed that the fit-again Daryl Murphy does not come back to haunt his side at Championship table-toppers Newcastle United tomorrow.

Over the course of six seasons, the powerful striker netted 67 goals in 221 games for the Blues, to break into the top-10 of the club’s leading all-time league scorers.

The 33-year-old was sold to the freshly relegated Magpies for a fee of around £3.5m just three days before the August transfer window shut and, in his absence, Town have scored just five goals in nine games.

Murphy, meanwhile, has been limited to just one appearance – a full 90 minutes in the EFL Cup win over Wolves – for his new employers thus far. That’s partly because he has the likes of Dwight Gayle, Ayoze Perez and Aleksander Mitrovic for competition and also because he picked up a slight calf injury while away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

He returned to full training this week though and there is an outside chance he may make his Magpies league debut against Town, at the 52,000 capacity St James’ Park, tomorrow afternoon.

“Whether he’s available for Saturday or not I don’t know, but I sincerely hope not because it would be Sod’s Law that he scored,” McCarthy said.

“I don’t wish ill on him at all, but I just want us to have all the good fortune, not him.

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“I’ve had many ex-players come back and haunt me, I could do without another one!”

Newcastle replaced Norwich at the top of the Championship table in midweek thanks to a 2-0 win at Barnsley. Since losing their first two games, Rafa Benitez’s men have dropped just five points from a possible 33.

More than 2,500 Town fans are making the trip to the north-east this weekend buoyed by their team’s 2-0 home win over Burton on Tuesday night.

“I’m sure I’ll get a bit of grief being an ex-Sunderland manager,” said McCarthy, who led the Black Cats to the Championship title during his three years in charge.

“That doesn’t bother me, I generally get a bit of grief at every stadium! I always love it when I’m getting grief when I’m coming off. Let’s hope that’s the case.”

He continued: “They have the best squad, although Norwich might argue they have the best team.

“They almost certainly have the best stadium. It’s a fabulous, high-profile game for us and I hear we have a lot of fans making the trip.

“The difference between hosting Burton when we were on a bit of a downer and the pressure being on to win, to this game is polar opposites. We go up there as the underdogs, but I don’t think they’ll be treating us as such.”

Town ended a five-game winless and goalless streak with their 2-0 triumph over Burton on Tuesday night and moved to within four points of the play-off places.

Asked where that result ranked for him in terms of importance during his near four-year spell in charge at Portman Road, McCarthy said: “I don’t know. I haven’t been putting them in an order of one to 10, that’s for sure. Forget about me, it was an important victory for the club.

“I was sat here on Monday discussing my job, which I thought was nonsense. But whatever happens with me, I’ll go and get another job if I end up leaving here. That’s not going to affect me too much.

“Yes, Tuesday night was good for me, but it was more important for the club, the players and the fans.

“Things had just started to get a bit dull and a bit negative, so it was a big win for all of us.”

He continued: “It’s a lot easier to come in with a smile on your face after a win. Had we drawn it would have felt really dull, had we lost it would have been doom and gloom.

“We’re hardly all dancing on the tables, it just enables you to feel kind of normal and not be fretting on the last performance and fully focus on the next one.”

– See tomorrow’s EADT for full match preview. Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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