No selection headache for boss Mick McCarthy after FA Cup loss at Portsmouth

Ainsley Maitland-Niles pulls a goal back at Portsmouth with a long range strike

Ainsley Maitland-Niles pulls a goal back at Portsmouth with a long range strike

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy admits none of his youngsters or fringe players have given him much of a selection headache following last night’s 2-1 defeat at League Two side Portsmouth in an FA Cup third round replay.

When the two teams first met at Portman Road, a much-changed Town side were fortunate to salvage a 2-2 draw against a team 45 places below them in the Football League pyramid. Tonight an even weaker line-up was beaten far more comfortably than the scoreline suggests.

Gary Roberts’ penalty and Marc McNulty’s header had put Pompey 2-0 up at the break, Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ long-range reply on the hour was the Blues’ only shot on target all game, while the visitors ended the game with 10-men after Piotr Malarczyk was sent-off for a second yellow card.

“It’s confirmed to me what I probably already know – my best side is the one that’s been playing,” said McCarthy, who left the vast majority of his senior players behind in Suffolk with Saturday’s Championship clash at top-six rivals Birmingham in mind.

“I couldn’t risk any of them. To have a chance of being in those play-offs I need that best team playing week-in, week-out.


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“Unfortunately that’s why some of the others had to play tonight. Did any of them give me a problem when I’m picking my team over the next few weeks? I don’t think so, no. I know the ones who are capable of playing.”

Asked if he had any regrets about changing his entire starting XI following Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Preston, he said: “None whatsoever.” Asked whether Portsmouth were the best team in both games, he simply said: “Yeah.”

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He added: “I’m disappointed to lose, of course I am. I didn’t come here to lose.

“It didn’t help that these haven’t played for 10 days – they looked fresh, they played well and they played well at our place too.

“It’s a shame our fans didn’t see a particularly good performance from the lads who came in. I think Brett (Pitman) and Reg (Luke Varney) up front had to work damn hard, Ainsley (Maitland-Niles), Luke (Hyam) and Tabby (Jay Tabb) too, but I was looking to some of the young ones who came in to give me something to think about.

“If I need them over the next 19 games they will have to perform but none of them have given me any great headaches in terms of picking them. I know who the best players are.”

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