Reaction: McCarthy pleased with Emmanuel, Knudsen and Lawrence in goalless draw with Brighton

Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instruction from the touchline during the second half of the Ipswic

Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instruction from the touchline during the second half of the Ipswich Town v Brighton & HA (Sky Bet Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 27 September 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy highlighted the performances of Josh Emmanuel, Jonas Knudsen and Tom Lawrence as positives after tonight’s goalless home draw with high-flying Brighton.

The Blues remain unbeaten at Portman Road in the league this season and have kept five clean sheets altogether, but they have also scored just four goals in their last 10 outings now.

“It was a really tough, hard fought game,” said McCarthy, whose team climb one place to 13th in the Championship table. “There wasn’t a lot of chances in it either way. They are a good side and I think they’ll be a top six team, I don’t doubt that at all. Chris (Hughton) has retained his players, they’ve won three on the bounce and came here full of confidence.

“Whilst we haven’t had loads of chances we’ve been solid and hard to break down and if you’ve got that you’ve got a foundation from which to build.

“We’re just finding them hard to convert at the minute, but we’ll keep practicing and working at it. We are missing a few fairly inventive, talented players. We took Jonny Williams and he’s not right yet, Bish (Teddy Bishop) had a broken nose, we’ve lost Pits (Brett Pitman), we’ve lost (Luke) Varney and Didz (David McGoldrick), so we’re a few strikers down and a few creative players down.

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“One real bright spark, I thought, was Tom Lawrence. He looks as if he’s got a goal in him and is a threat.

“The one I’m really delighted with is Josh Emmanuel – I thought he was excellent.

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“He was very good playing against (Jiri) Skalak, who has been playing well and creating chances for them. He didn’t give him anything at all to be fair, he was good.”

Asked if Emmanuel could keep his place in the team when Adam Webster returns to fitness following the international break, McCarthy replied: “If he plays like that every week, of course.

“Josh has played well in any game he’s played – Doncaster, Manchester United, MK Dons. Whenever he’s played, he’s played well– and he’s played well tonight.”

On Knudsen, who again impressed, McCarthy said: “Anthony Knockaert has been ripping it up for them on the other side but I don’t think he caused Jonas too many problems at all. I thought Jonas was excellent. He’s had a couple of tough wingers to mark, with (Hadi) Sacko at the weekend (Leeds), and again today. I’m pleased with him.”

He continued: “We’ll have to create more and convert more if we are to be up there. If you’re not getting beat that’s something to build on, but if you’re creating nothing and getting slapped then you are in real trouble. That’s not been the case, we’ve been pretty solid all the time.

“That’s not just trying to be solid, we are trying to open teams up and play, it’s just not happening at the minute.

“I thought we passed it much better, to be honest, out the back tonight. We tried to be progressive from there. I thought it worked. It gives us a breather when we’re not chasing the ball. I thought we were better. There were a couple of times when we gave it away, but overall I thought it was a much better performance.”

Asked how he thought skipper Luke Chambers fared on his return to centre-back, McCarthy said: “Chambo is great, you know my feelings on him. He is a centre-half, he’s been shoe-horned into being a right-back and he’s done that pretty selflessly and made a real good fist of it most of the time.

“I know how difficult it would have been for me to go and play at right-back because I was a centre-back. He’s terrific wherever he plays and is such a good influence on the team.”

Asked if Freddie Sears, who has gone 35 games without a goal, had been dropped or rested, McCarthy said: “Freddie has been carrying a bit of groin strain. He’s been in the treatment room and you never see him in the treatment room.

“I’ve only got two strikers at the moment, so if I just keep whipping Freddie every week – and he’s played virtually every minute – he’s going to get injured. I can’t afford that.

“I know he’s better up top and maybe in games we might be able to get him up top alongside someone else, but he needed a break because he’s done a lot of work.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy revealed that Pitman will be out for up to 10 weeks with the ankle injury he sustained at Leeds.

Town host Huddersfield on Saturday.

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