Nottingham Forest v Ipswich Town match preview: Blues could relegate their hosts on final day

Bartosz Bialkowski is Town's prized asset

Bartosz Bialkowski is Town's prized asset - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town take on Nottingham Forest, at The City Ground, in their final game of the Championship season this lunchtime. Here’s all you need to know.

Town playing for pride

Ipswich haven’t finished lower than 16th in the second-tier since promotion from the old Division Three South way back in 1957. Following final placings of ninth, sixth and seventh during Mick McCarthy’s first full three seasons in charge, they could end up anywhere between 14th and 19th today.

The Blues have just suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since February 2016. They won’t want to end the season with three losses on the spin.

Relegation scrap

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One way or another, a big club is going to be relegated to League One today – Blackburn Rovers, Nottingham Forest or Birmingham City.

Blackburn – managed by former Town favourite Tony Mowbray – occupy 22nd spot, Forest are above them on goal difference, while Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham are two points clear.

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All of today’s games kick-off at 12pm.

Blackburn are at Brentford, while Birmingham are at Bristol City.

If Forest win 1-0 against Ipswich, Blackburn would need to triumph 3-0 to overtake the Reds.

The games at The City Ground and Griffin Park are both being shown on Sky Sports. Forest are expecting a 30,000 sell-out as they look to avoid returning to League One for the first time since 2007/08.

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‘League integrity’

There is already a lot of talk about what sort of teams will be fielded by those not playing for anything.

Mick McCarthy has said he takes the integrity of the league very seriously and will play a full-strength Town side. However, Tom Lawrence (ankle) will not be risked and ex-Forest striker David McGoldrick is descried as a doubt with a sore neck. The Blues boss admits his two star attacking players would definitely have played had it been ‘a Cup Final’. That may open the door for one or two fringe players such as Danny Rowe, Kieffer Moore and Dominic Samuel.

Bristol City boss Lee Johnson has said he might give a few youngsters a chance against Birmingham, with the Robins having only recently sealed their own safety. It could be another stroke of luck for Redknapp’s men after they beat a Huddersfield side featuring 10 changes last weekend. The Terriers are, of course, preparing for the play-offs.

Meanwhile, Brentford boss Dean Smith says he is down to ‘bare bones’ for the visit of Blackburn.

The Football League has written to Ipswich, Brentford and Bristol City reminding them of their ‘obligations’.

A statement read: “Last weekend, we saw Huddersfield “It is very much a subjective matter to determine what constitutes a ‘full strength’ side, however the disappointment of both Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest is understandable.

“Huddersfield have been asked for their observations and reasons for taking the approach that they did.

“This type of approach is another challenge to the integrity of the competition, albeit a different one to the actions of supporters. We have reminded all clubs this week as to their obligations in this area.”

Big pressure on young shoulders

There is a lot of excitement surrounding a crop of homegrown youngsters at Forest, but this is a high-pressure situation for an inexperienced group. Warburton is ready to place his trust in kes of Jordan Smith, Joe Worrall, Ben Osborn, Ben Brereton and Matthew Cash.

Talking tactics

Both teams have played with wing-backs a fair bit, but both have been using a 4-2-3-1 system most recently.

Warburton will probably have seen enough from that system in the 3-2 win against Reading to stick with it, despite last weekend’s 2-0 loss to QPR.

That formation paid dividends for Town in the Easter victories against Burton and Newcastle, but McCarthy may shuffle his pack after losses to Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday.

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Manager talk

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy said: “If they don’t have the edge then we’ll beat them, so they better make sure they have got that edge. I have no sympathy for their position and no preference for who goes down, I’m just glad it’s not us going into the final day still worrying.

“They are bound to be nervous and concerned. It will be a full house baying for blood, but it’s a game we can go and enjoy. They will enjoy the atmosphere early on, but if things don’t go well it could turn for them. It’s up to us to make sure it does.”

Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warbuton only took over in March and has said he will stay regardless of whether the East Midlands club stay up or not.

He said: “We have to start the game fast. If you do not start fast, the opposition will. All the players want to have a good first touch and build from there. You want the players to build confidence in that first five or 10 minutes. Ipswich will come with the opposite intentions.

“We know what is at stake now and we are aware of the consequences. It is one of the biggest games I have ever been involved in.”

How to follow the game

Even if you are watching on TV, you can follow and join in our live match blog right here on the EADT and Ipswich Star websites. It will start at 11am with team news and go all the way through to the close of the post-match press conferences.

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