Reaction: McCarthy hails makeshift midfielder Kevin Foley after home win against Nottingham Forest

Ben Pringle wheels away after scoring the only goal of the Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest (Champio

Ben Pringle wheels away after scoring the only goal of the Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 05 March 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy hailed makeshift midfielder Kevin Foley after his impressive performance in a 1-0 home win over Nottingham Forest this afternoon.

The 31-year-old former Wolves man – signed as a free agent in January – has played most of his career at right-back, but he’s started his Town career in the middle due to a number of players being injured.

And for the third successive match he caught the eye in that role with some clever movement, constant demanding for the ball and tenacity too. Indeed, it was his strong challenge, forward run and composed pass which led to Ben Pringle’s 63rd minute winner.

“Foles was great, I thought he was terrific,” enthused McCarthy, whose team are now just a point adrift of the play-off places again following back-to-back 1-0 victories.

“It’s irked me slightly that I keep getting asked about the loan market and ‘what are you going to do?’ I’ve signed Kev, I’ve got Ben (Pringle) in on loan. I do believe that if you’ve got players in-house that travel all over the country and who support the others that they deserve to play. I think I’ve been well rewarded with that because they’re a good squad.

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“Kev is one of them who can play right-back, left-back, centre-midfield, wide right. He’s a very competent footballer. He understands the game. He can go and play, technically he’s very good. He’s done loads of roles, but his performances at Huddersfield and today were excellent. I thought he played well at Bristol City too. He’s a proper footballer who understands the game. He’s a really good pro and a nice fella as well.”

Ipswich kept the ball on the floor much more than usual this afternoon and played some easy-on-the-eye football in an open first half. Forest spurned four golden chances, but then ran out of ideas after the break and Town defended superbly after scoring.

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“They missed a few chances in the first half, went close with two headers, Bart’s (Bialkowski) made a couple of good saves. The irony is that I think we’ve played some good football today. Second half we scored and kept a clean sheet. That’s the upshot of it.

“We had to work for everything. They are a good side, they proved that in the first half. They are far from mugs. We’ve had to just eek out a win. It took a bit of perseverance and a bit of doggedness from Foles and a bit of quality as well for the goal. Prings, well it was a good tackle wasn’t it?! The lads have given him some stick for that.”

Asked if the absence of Daryl Murphy (calf strain) had forced his team to play differently today, he replied: “Not really.”

But, it was put to him, the style of football was very clearly different to the direct route taken so often of late.

“We’d worked all week on that because I thought they might sit back in,” said the Blues boss. “We’ve played some really good football this year. Sadly, just lately, because we’ve lost players and been under the cosh a bit, maybe we have gone back to front far too much. But that’s not been the plan.

“We’ve always got that option if Murph’s in, we’ve pace with Freddie (Sears) who can turn them. It’s much maligned, but if you analyse the goals we’ve scored, many have come from a ball stuck in behind their centre-half. The goal at Huddersfield was like that, the game before that too.

“We’ve not been playing well and have ended up being a bit safe and just pumping it up – and that’s not us.”

Following the 1-0 win at Huddersfield, McCarthy said he was ‘sick of talking about the play-offs’. Asked if we were allowed to start talking about them again now, he quipped: “When I go out you can talk about them all you like, no problem!”

When it was put to him that the mood can change very quickly in football, he said: “What has my demeanour been like over the last few weeks while it’s all been going bonkers?” The questioner replied ‘level-headed and no sense of panic’. McCarthy responded: “Yes, and there will be no sense of me going out and getting langered drunk tonight either just because we’re one point off the top-six! I’ll keep doing things the way I am.”

With 16-year-old academy midfielder Andre Dozzell on the bench, McCarthy added: “It wasn’t the game for him to go on, that’s for sure. If we were winning 3-0 there might have been a chance for him. Heaven forbid, had we been 3-0 down it might have been a free one to say ‘listen, go on and get your debut’.

“I do feel if it was a wide open game and not as tough and physical as that one was he could go on and cause a problem. But we were hanging on for 1-0. It wasn’t his day today.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy said he is not sure if Murphy will be fit for Tuesday’s trip to Bolton, but said that Cole Skuse (toe) and Jonathan Douglas (stitches in a cut foot sustained at Huddersfield) would be okay.

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