‘He should have been here’ – Hugill the one that got away for Town
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Ipswich Town host Preston North End in a Championship match this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy raises his eyebrows and grimaces ruefully at the mention of Jordan Hugill’s name ahead of this afternoon’s Championship clash with Preston North End at Portman Road.
Almost 18 months ago, the Blues boss had identified the burly front man as the ideal replacement for Daryl Murphy at Portman Road.
Two bids – believed to be around £1.5m and £2m – were rebuffed by the Lancashire club back in January, with then Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson joking the player’s price had rocketed to £4m after he netted a late leveller against the Blues.
Then the transfer market hyper-inflated and Preston ended up rejecting a staggering £8m offer from Reading over the summer.
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“He should have been here really but there you go,” said McCarthy. “We tried to buy him (in January) and we couldn’t do it. That’s the upshot of that. They then wanted big money for him in the summer.”
Hugill is not the only Preston player Town have shown an interested in over recent months. Alex Neil – he formerly of Norwich City – has been shopping regularly in the Irish market that McCarthy and his staff know well.
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“Pretty much everybody looked at (Sean) Maguire, (Daryl) Horgan and (Andy) Boyle,” said the Blues boss. “Plenty looked at them, but fair play to Preston they put the money down for them.”
With the two teams locked on the same number of points in the middle of the Championship table, McCarthy continued: “They’re just like us. I don’t think they were fancied to have such a good start, neither were we. We both seemed to have dropped off and been a little bit more inconsistent.
“He’s having to patch his team up because of injuries and we’re pretty much the same.
“We’re on the same points. We’re both sides that will do very well to get in the top six. It’s an interesting game.”
McCarthy made six changes to the team which won 2-1 at Burton last Saturday for Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff.
Asked if he’d had half an eye on today’s game with that midweek selection, he replied: “No. I told the players prior to the Burton game that I was going to make changes (at Cardiff).
“We’ve used fewer players than anyone else – 19, I believe.
“I remember the Bristol City game (3-1 home defeat), that was a third game (in eight days) and it was just a game too much for some of them to go at full tilt.
“I told them I’d change it, I did and now I’ve got fresh legs.”
With the third international break of the season following today’s match, McCarthy added: “It would be nice to go into it on a high because we haven’t done it for the last two.
“It’s horrible if you’ve lost, whereas if you win you can switch off for a couple of days.”
Team name: Preston North End
Manager: Alex Neil (July ‘17: P16 W5 D6 L5)
Last three finishes: 11th, 11th (both Championship), 3rd (League One)
Current position: 10th
Last result: L 2-0 Aston Villa (a)
Biggest win: 3-0 Cardiff (h) - Sept 12
Biggest defeat: 2-0 Aston Villa (h) – Nov 1
Top-scorers: Hugill (7), Maguire (4)
Most league starts: Maxwell, Barkhuizen (15)
Preston North End 1 Ipswich Town 1
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017
Tom Lawrence scored another wonder goal after dancing inside from the left (16), but Town were pegged back at the death when transfer target Jordan Hugill rammed home from close-range (89).
The Blues won the earlier reverse fixture 1-0 courtesy of Grant Ward’s early strike.
12 – Goals conceded in last five by Preston
57 – Goals Town striker Joe Garner scored for Preston
2008 – Last time Town lost at home to Preston (P5 W2 D3)
21 – Games without a draw for Town
Ipswich Town team news
• This game has come too soon for midfield trio Emyr Huws (Achilles), Tom Adeyemi (hamstring) and Teddy Bishop (groin). All three are back in training.
• McCarthy made six changes to the team which secured a 2-1 win at Burton last Saturday for Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat in Cardiff.
• Martyn Waghorn, David McGoldrick, Freddie Sears, Adam Webster, Jordan Spence and Tristan Nydam were the ones rested in South Wales.
• McCarthy has intimated that teenagers Nydam and Flynn Downes might be taken out of the line of fire.
• Andre Dozzell and Luke Hyam (both knee) remain long-term absentees.
Preston North End team news
• Alex Neil has seven senior defenders potentially sidelined. Club captain Tom Clarke, stand-in skipper Greg Cunningham, Ben Davies, Tommy Spurr and Marnick Vermijl were already out, while Calum Woods and Josh Earl suffered knee injuries in Wednesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
• Key centre-back Paul Huntington is available again after a one-match ban.
• Having named much the same side for two games in four days, Neil may freshen things up offensively.
OPPOSITION KEY MAN
Town might be wishing they’d pushed the boat out a little further to land the all-action front man back in January. The 25-year-old has scored seven goals in all competitions already this season.
Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)
Games: 9, Yellows: 39, Reds: 4
Ipswich Town 9/5
Preston North End 17/10
Ipswich Town 2 Preston North End 1
Town should be fresher, while Preston’s defence is decimated.