Mick McCarthy names his team for Ipswich Town’s FA Cup tie against Portsmouth

Paul Digby watches on at Burnley

Paul Digby watches on at Burnley

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has, unusually, named his starting XI for tomorrow’s FA Cup third round home tie against League Two side Portsmouth at this afternoon’s press conference.


The Blues boss – who did exactly the same thing ahead of last August’s League Cup match against Stevenage – will rest Dean Gerken, Christophe Berra, Tommy Smith, Ryan Fraser, Kevin Bru, Freddie Sears and Daryl Murphy following Saturday’s gruelling goalless draw at Burnley.

Luke Chambers, Jonas Knudsen, Cole Skuse and Luke Hyam are the quartet to keep their place in the side, with Bartosz Bialkowski, new signing Paul Digby, Piotr Malarczyk, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tommy Oar, Brett Pitman and Luke Varney promoted to the line-up.

Murphy (calf) and Bru (hasmtring) have minor injury problems, which shouldn’t keep them out of next Tuesday’s home game against Leeds, while tomorrow’s game has come just too soon for the newly fit-again duo of Jonathan Douglas and Larsen Toure.

“Our team tomorrow is Bart, Luke Chambers, Jonas Knudsen, Piotr Malarczyk, Paul Digby, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Skusey, Luke Hyam, Tommy Oar, Brett Pitman and Reg Varney,” revealed McCarthy. “That’s the team and it’s one that is capable of winning that game

“The reason I have named it is because I don’t want all that nonsense where they go ‘I got the team sheet at 2pm and pinned it up on the dressing room wall as motivation’. It’s out there now and if they feel motivated by it, or if they feel I’ve some how demeaned the competition, which I completely and utterly haven’t, well, good luck to them.”

Asked why football managers rarely name their team a day in advance, he replied: “If you know the other team you can prepare that little bit better. You can sort out who we are marking at free-kicks and corners, we’ll know if there’s a certain penalty taker on the pitch and can prepare the keeper. If they are playing a certain team then we’ll know which wingers might be on which side, whether they are playing two up or a No.10, whether there will be two sitters. If you get that information you can prepare that little bit better.

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“I guess I’ve just given that away, but we’ll be 4-4-2 tomorrow and that’s what my team is. I just don’t want any nonsense where people say ‘that inspired us’ because they feel my selection somehow disrespected them. That team is not disrespecting anybody – Portsmouth or the FA Cup.”

When it was put to the Blues boss that there should be enough experience and ability in his line-up to progress to the fourth round, he replied: “You’d think so wouldn’t you? Brett has played lots of the games, so has Ainsley. Luke Hyam and Skusey both played Saturday, both full-backs are our regulars. Bart, well if I listened to everybody he should be in the team anyway! It’s only really Paul Digby that’s not been involved. I think that’s a very good team.”

He continued: “I’ve rested some. Of course I’ve not got Freddie (Sears) in, but Freddie has played virtually every minute of every game and has been the star of the show. Ryan Fraser’s just come back after four months out so there’s common sense in resting him. It would be stupid to whip him to a standstill.

“They all wanted to play, but I thought it was important that a few had a rest. It’s just being sensible and making sure we get through the season.

“There are several players in that team raring to go and now it’s their chance to give me a problem.”

Portsmouth, currently fourth in League Two, will also name a much-changed team. With a trio of centre-backs unavailable – Jack Whatmough and Christian Burgess both injured and Matt Clarke ineligible to face his parent club – centre-midfielder Adam Barton will have to fill in at the back.

Boss Paul Cook has already revelaed that he will rest experienced midfielder skipper Michael Doyle, while former Town striker Caolan Lavery cannot play in the cup under the terms of his loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

“Sparky (Under-21 manager Mark Kennedy) has seen them lots going down there to watching Matt Clarke play,” said McCarthy. “They’re a good side, a really good footballing team. Paul Cook had a similar approach at Chesterfield. The centre-halves go rampaging forwards from the back, full-backs who overlap.”

With Town hosting Leeds and Preston next Tuesday and Saturday respectively, McCarthy said: “A win tomorrow could help us going into those home games. I had that in mind when I picked this team. I didn’t want to put out a team full of kids, we get beat and then we have to get ourselves going again.”