POLL: Who should fill injured David McGoldrick’s void in the Ipswich Town team?

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor - Credit: Archant

With Ipswich Town now without injured top-goalscorer David McGoldrick for the remainder of the season, STUART WATSON takes a look at who manager Mick McCarthy could play as Daryl Murphy’s strike partner.

SYLVAN EBANKS-BLAKE

Undoubtedly the striker with the most pedigree, but will Blues fans see the best of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake before his short-term deal expires at the end-of-the-season? The 27-year-old has netted an impressive 75 times in 169 appearances at second tier level. It was therefore seen as major coup when Ipswich beat a host of rivals to his signature two months ago, the former Manchester United trainee deciding that he wanted to work with Mick McCarthy, his former Wolves boss, once more.

The move was still something of a gamble though considering Ebanks-Blake had only just returned to fitness following a nine-month rehabilitation period, having broken his leg and – more crucially – suffered ankle ligament damage on April 1 last year. His Town debut, the 1-1 home draw with Preston in the FA Cup on January 4, lasted just 28 minutes before he limped off with a hamstring problem.

Following another six weeks on the sidelines, he returned to action as a 75th minute substitute in last Saturday’s goalless home draw with Blackpool and then played an hour for the Under-21s in Monday night’s 2-0 defeat to Charlton. On both occasions it was clear that he is still way off the pace in terms of match fitness.


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A stocky player who likes to receive the ball into feet, back into defenders and spin them, it remains to be seen whether his style of play will suit a Blues team which is short on midfield creativity. David McGoldrick drops deep to collect the ball and make things happen, unselfishly tracks back to defend and runs the channels to feed off Daryl Murphy’s flick-ons. Is Ebanks-Blake ready to do the same?

STATS

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– Scored 75 goals in 169 second tier appearances prior to joining the Blues on a free transfer last December.

– Has played just 43 minutes of competitive football in the last 10-and-a-half months.

QUOTES

“Is he going to be the Sylvan Ebanks-Blake of three/four years ago though? No, because he’s been out for 10 months or so. There needs to be a bit of patience.”

– Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager

“You need games to get that sharpness back. It’s up to the manager when he thinks I’m ready.”

– Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

FRANK NOUBLE

The unpolished gem that manager Mick McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor believe they can get the best out of with a bit of love and attention.

Athletic and eager, the 22-year-old has the raw physical attributes required to be an effective striker in the Championship. He doesn’t always utilise his size and strength to full effect though, while technically he is behind many of his front line competition – his first touch erratic at best.

It’s for this reason that Chelsea, West Ham and Wolves have all let him go in the past, with a string of loan clubs often playing him for just a handful of games before sending him back to the parent club.

His best performances have been as a starting player and there were signs that his all-round game was maturing during a run of six starts in December. For all his deficiencies, he never stops running and is always liable to force a mistake out of an opposition keeper or defender when he chases down balls that others would have given up on as a lost cause.

STATS

– Scored four goals in 47 appearances for Ipswich (19 starts and 28 as a substitute).

– Town have lost just one of the 16 league games that Nouble has started, winning seven and drawing eight.

QUOTES

“Frank has definitely improved his all-round game and when your team-mates like you, it shows that you are doing well in the group. We want him to continue how he is going and he is learning how to become an effective player.

“He had a lot of potential early in his career, but it’s probably fair to say that Frank has not been coached effectively. He is a big, strong, boy who needs to understand how to play as a centre-forward and in a forward position.”

– Terry Connor, Ipswich Town assistant manager

PAUL TAYLOR

Arguably has the most natural ability among the potential striker replacements for McGoldrick, but appears to be falling short in terms of other attributes that manager Mick McCarthy demands from his players.

Taylor’s quick feet, pace and dribbling skills would bring something different to a Town side desperately short of creativity and flair, but McCarthy is reluctant to accommodate so-called ‘luxury’ players in a system built around organisation and work-rate.

Having produced some exciting displays soon after his £1.5m transfer from Peterborough in the summer of 2012, Taylor quickly suffered the foot injury which would see him sidelined for the remainder of the entire campaign. Hasn’t looked the same player upon his return to action this season, underwhelmed during a loan spell back at London Road in League One and has been very much on the periphery of late.

Showed glimpses of his ability in the 3-1 home defeat to QPR on January 11 (only his second league start for Town this season), but continued to be left out after that, stayed at home when the first team travelled to Portugal for some warm weather training recently and the following weekend was sent home from Barnsley – having travelled up with the squad – due to toothache.

STATS

– Signed by previous boss Paul Jewell, from Peterborough, for £1.5m on transfer deadline day, August 2012.

– Scored 15 goals in 86 career appearances (29 of them as a sub).

QUOTES

“The players we’ve got are a little bit more structured. He (Taylor) can be a bit of a maverick, there’s no question of that. You might ask him to do something within the confines of our shape, but he’ll then beat two or three players and make something happen.

“You be saying ‘hold it, stick it, lay it off’ and he’ll go and smack it in the top corner. If he does that he’ll be fine with me.”

– Mick McCarthy, Ipswich Town manager

JACK MARRIOTT

If Town’s season is to peter out towards mid-table mediocrity, then this could be the perfect time to recall homegrown hot-shot Marriott.

The 19-year-old has been a prolific goalscorer at all youth team levels while coming up through the Blues’ academy, with his nine goals in 12 games on loan at Skrill Premier club Woking adding weight to the argument that natural goal poachers will find the net regularly at any level.

The only blot against his name is that fact that Peter Taylor didn’t give him hardly any game time during a recent loan spell at Gillingham. If he wasn’t deemed ready to walk into a League One side, then you can see why Mick McCarthy – who has seen him in training day-in, day-out – may feel he’s not ready for the Championship just yet.

STATS

– Prolific goalscorer at youth team level for Ipswich Town, has scored nine goals during a loan spell at Skrill Premier side Woking.

– Made one brief substitute appearance on loan at League One side Gillingham before the switch was prematurely terminated.

QUOTES

“He’s enjoying it (at Woking), but it’s not Leicester and it’s not Blackpool – let’s put it into perspective. But he’s doing what he was sent out to do – play against fellas where points were at stake.”

– Mick McCarthy

“The lad wants to play first team games and unfortunately I can’t guarantee him that. Jack is a good kid and we wish him all the best.”

– Paul Taylor, Gillingham manager

ALAN LEE

The 35-year-old returned to Portman Road last summer primarily to begin preparing for life after playing, working as a trainee coach within the club’s academy. He registered as a player too though and has trained with the first team throughout the campaign.

Came off the bench late on in the 3-2 FA Cup replay defeat at Preston and has only made the match day squad once (an unused sub against QPR) in the league. Wouldn’t be able to run the channels and chase up and down the pitch, but could still step off the bench and be a real handful as a target man if required. Not really a direct replacement for McGoldrick.

STATS

– Scored 34 goals in 109 appearances during his first spell at Ipswich (2006-08).

– Twenty-two of his 25 appearances for Huddersfield last season came as a sub.

– Only been on the bench twice for Ipswich this season.

QUOTES

“I know I can’t do what the other guys do week-in, week-out – it’s not something a 35-year-old heavyweight striker can probably do! At the same time, if there are some injuries, touch wood there aren’t, then I think I could do a job.”

– Alan Lee

CHANGE THE SYSTEM

Ipswich haven’t played 4-4-2 all season and McCarthy may well decide that, without McGoldrick, he is best off deploying Daryl Murphy at the tip of a 4-3-3 system. Out of the aforementioned strikers, Nouble and Taylor are both capable of playing as the wide forwards in this formation. In addition, wingers Stephen Hunt and Paul Anderson have also been deployed in those roles. It could be that the latter two get utilised in a front three when the opposition needs stifling, with Saturday’s trip to runaway league-leaders Leicester a prime example.

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