Opposition should show Christophe Berra some more respect, says Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Sky Bet Championship.
Ipswich Town v Birmingham City - Portman Road, Ipswich - 1 Mar 2014.

Sky Bet Championship. Ipswich Town v Birmingham City - Portman Road, Ipswich - 1 Mar 2014. Ipswich Town's Christophe Berra (R) challenges Birmingham City's Nikola Zigic for the ball. PHOTO: Ashley Pickering. - Credit: Ashley Pickering

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy laughs when opponents try to single out defender Christophe Berra as a weak link for Ipswich Town.

The 29-year-old centre-back produced another imperious display in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City at Portman Road, dominating in the air and producing two fantastic saving tackles in the box as the Blues made it four successive clean sheets on Suffolk soil.

“Do you know what, I don’t think he’s appreciated as much outside of the club as he should be,” said McCarthy, whose side moved up to ninth place and closed the gap on the play-off places to four points thanks to Daryl Murphy’s 38th minute winner.

“I’ve heard one or two disparaging things from benches, people shouting ‘get at him’ and the like. Get at him? Do me a favour, he’s as quick as anybody. He’s a fantastic defender.”

Some questioned McCarthy’s decision to split up the central defensive partnership of Luke Chambers and Tommy Smith last August after the Blues had kept 12 clean sheets in their final 22 league matches of the 2012/13 campaign season.

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Berra’s form – which has recently led to him being recalled to the Scotland squad – has more than justified McCarthy’s decision to recruit and play his former Wolves favourite though. The no-nonsense centre-half will surely feature in the top three when it comes to Player of the Year voting over the coming weeks.

Asked if the Edinburgh-born player was one of the best free transfer additions in the Championship this season, McCarthy said: “I think so. He’s playing on the right-hand side (of the two central defenders), which is not his favourite slot, but he’s had a great season. He’s been terrific.”

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Berra will now travel away with the Scotland squad for Wednesday’s night’s friendly against Poland in Warsaw before linking up directly with the Town squad in Middlesbrough for Saturday’s game at the Riverside Stadium.

– Join EADT and Ipswich Star reporter Stuart Watson for a live webchat at 1pm today: http://www.eadt.co.uk/home/live-chat

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