Ipswich Preview - Home, March 15th
It`s the last of the Hornet`s critical trio of home games tomorrow night as the Golden Boys play host to Roy Keane`s Ipswich Town. If Peterborough was a 'must-win-six-pointer`, then Ipswich at home is the same again, if not doubled. Town have had an extremely disappointing season and were unlucky not to beat the Hornet`s 1-0 in the reverse fixture at Portman Road, Nathan Ellington (remember him?!), scoring a late leveller for Malky`s men.
For one reason or another it has just not clicked for the Tractor Boys this season, and after a dreadful winless run of 16 to start the campaign, Town have solidified slightly and are currently drawing a large number of games (17 in total), leaving them, 17th in the table. Watford of course have hit the skids themselves and are on a run which has seen them collect just two league wins this calendar year - both at the Vic`.
A key feature of Roy Keane`s tenure at Portman Road has been bringing former players from Sunderland down to East Anglia with him.
The Summer saw former Luton Town and Trinidad and Tobago winger, Carlos Edwards sign for a fee of £1.5m whilst home-grown Mackem, Grant Leadbitter also moved with Keane in a deal worth £2.5m. Also joining Keane in the Blue Half of East Anglia was youngster Jack Colback who signed on a season long loan after evidently making an impression on the Irishman during his time at the Stadium of Light.
Equally busy has been the door marked 'out`. A number of youngsters who started the campaign in and around the first team have left in search of regular football - players such as centre-halve Tommy Smith and midfielder, Danny Trotter, whilst Keane quickly lost patience with former 'Orn Tamas Priskin; now pitching up at QPR on loan. Alex Bruce joined Leicester on loan recently having failed to agree a new contract whilst Jamaican forward Kevin Lisbie is enjoying his return to Aidy Boothroyd`s Colchester United. Most recently though, Jon Stead, who initially worked with Keane at Sunderland after taking over in the North East, left on loan with a view to joining Coventry City permanently.
All this business saw David Healy and Daryl Murphy pen loan deals with Keane`s men. Murphy has had the most impressive impact, scoring within a minute on his home debut and going on to notch another four in 9 league starts on loan. Despite impressing initially at Sunderland the Irish cap fell away and drifted down the pecking order leaving him with 14 goals in 60 starts for the Wearsiders. Signed by Keane, Healy had a less than impressive stint at Sunderland and managed to muster up 13 sub appearances but not one start, scoring once following his move from Fulham. However the former Norwich, Leeds, Preston and Manchester United striker is always a threat as 35 in 73 at international level for Northern Ireland testifies.
In goal has been a troublesome position for Ipswich this season, losing Richard Wright to an injury early in the campaign. Mirko Ranieri and Asmir Begovic came in on loan from Spurs and Portsmouth respectively to cover former Hartlepool man, Arran-Lee Barrett who had the number one jersey briefly until Brian Murphy arrived from Bohemians in January. Lee-Barrett`s performances earned him a year`s extension to his deal with the Tractor Boys but Murphy has taken over the number on jersey on arrival.
Left-back Damien Delaney will miss out following his sending-off in the last minute win versus Scunthorpe United, the paperwork for his appeal only lodged today. Canadian utility man, Jaime Peters looks most likely to come in at left back for Town. Also missing out is left-sided Argentian, Luciano Civelli who sustained knee ligament damage only briefly into his Ipswich career last season.
Watford may well see a couple of changes after their dismal showing at home to Peterborough on Saturday, the likes of Mariappa, Eustace and Graham all under scrutiny of late - but don`t hold your breath folks!
STOP PRESS: DEFENDER TOMMY SMITH RE-CALLED FROM LOAN SPELL AT
UPDATE - IPSWICH TEAM NEWS: STRIKER DARYL MURPHY LIKELY TO MISS OUT WITH BLURRED VISION, FELLOW LOANEE DAVID HEALY LIKELY TO REPLACE HIM. DAMIEN DELANEY SUSPENSION OVERTURNED TODAY, ELIGABLE TO PLAY.
MY starting XI vs. Ipswich
Hodson DeMerit (c) Taylor Doyley
Cowie Lansbury Jenkins Cleverley
For what my opinion is worth; Eustace and Mariappa were diabolical against Peterborough, so get them out the firing line, Hodson and Jenkins are straight replacements. Graham short of goals and confidence so get him out and Hoskins in as the only other senior striker at the club. Hoskins is out of contract in the Summer and a couple of games back-to-back may make inspire him into some performances with his future all to play for. Though Cowie has been dreadful of late and poor all season there is no natural replacement, unless Will Buckley makes a quick recovery from injury.
Likely Ipswich Town XI
Wright McAuley (c) Smith Delany
Norris Colback Garvan Walters