Lawrence and Nugent threat make Derby trip a daunting one... but history favours the Blues
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Tuesday night’s trip to in-form Derby County is certainly a daunting one for Ipswich Town – but history says there is reason to be optimistic.
Gary Rowett’s Rams currently sit sixth in the Championship table, having won six of their last eight games, with the latest coming on Saturday when they demolished promotion-chasing Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
After that game Rowett hailed hat-trick hero Matej Vydra as ‘the best No 10 in the league’, with the Czech striker just one of a number of players the Blues will be wary of.
That cast is undoubtedly led by former star loanee Tom Lawrence and nemesis striker David Nugent, but the power-packed midfield of Andreas Weimann Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley is also the envy of many in the league.
Lawrence lit up Portman Road with a stunning run of eight goals in 10 games in the opening weeks of 2017, staging his own goal of the season competition in the process, but proved out of Ipswich’s financial reach as the Rams swooped to sign him for £6million.
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As for Nugent, he may only have four goals to his name this season, but a much-discussed record of 15 in 15 against Ipswich means there is a sense of inevitability whenever he lines up against the Blues.
It’s been nearly two years since his last goal against Ipswich, though, and he did not play in either of the Rams’ clashes with Mick McCarthy’s side last season. So he’s either lost his touch or is overdue.
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Both Nugent and Lawrence are likely to start.
Tomorrow night’s game pits the Blues against a Derby side operating in a ‘different’ financial market to McCarthy and his team, but their record in the East Midlands has defied that inequality for more than a decade.
Remarkably, Ipswich are unbeaten in their last nine trips to Pride Park, with that run stretching back to November 29, 2006.
That run includes back-to-back 1-0 wins, courtesy of Luke Varney and David McGoldrick goals, a total of six victories, 14 goals scored and a memorable 4-4 draw under the floodlights in 2013.
The iPro has certainly been a happy hunting ground for many years, but you get the sense the Blues will have to be at their predatory best if they are to extend that run to a 10th game.