Ipswich Town Preview - Away, December 3
WATFORD TRAVEL to Suffolk this weekend to face Paul Jewell's floundering Ipswich Town.
The Tractor Boys were a sneaky tip for many this summer after a number of shrewd acquisitions, but following a bright start a run of six games has threatened to undermine their progress.
Summer investment was heavy with the likes of Michael Chopra and Jay Emmanuel Thomas signed for not insignificant fees. Lee Bowyer, Jimmy Bullard and Keith Andrews have also cost a fair wedge in wages.
At present, Jewell's side side 21st in the Championship, three places below the Hornet's and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. Jewell admits he is under pressure to re-discover his side's early-season form: 'And if I wasn't under pressure, you, you and you, wouldn't be here!' said Jewell in his Thursday press conference.
The fact of the matter is that the talent in clearly there, and despite the volume of players added, Ipswich had started the season fairly well.
Ex Premier League trio, Bullard, Andrews and Lee Bowyer arrived on loan and free transfers respectively but bring bags of experience.
Bullard spent part of last season on loan from Hull after the Tigers failed in moving on their club record signing. Now 33, the Newham-born playmaker is re-united with Jewell, the man who oversaw his most successful period in football whilst at Wigan Athletic. Seen as something of the joker in the pack, Bullard was of course the man who mocked former Tigers' boss, Phil Brown with the infamous 'dressing down' celebration.
Andrews arrived on loan from Blackburn Rovers where he had fallen down the pecking order under Steve Kean. An Ireland international, Andrews was believed to be a one-time Watford target during his MK Dons days. A cultured passer of the ball, Andrews also has an eye for the spectacular strike.
Completing Ipswich's experienced midfield triumvirate is ex Birmingham, Leeds, Charlton and West Ham enforcer, Lee Bowyer. The former England man, now 34, joined on a free from relegated Birmingham. Bowyer adds bite as well as experience and has been known to chip in with goals too.
Ipswich will be without skipper Grant Leadbitter (groin) and Richard Wright (pectoral muscle) but defender Ibrahima Sonko is back in contention along with 'keeper David Stockdale who is touch and go at present.
Watford look likely to name the same XI that drew with Bristol City in midweek meaning Lloyd Doyley and John Eustace will start on the bench once more.
Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Ingimarsson, Collins, Cresswell; Bullard, Andrews, Bowyer, Kennedy; Chopra & Murphy.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Nosworthy, Mariappa (c), Dickinson; Yeates, Hogg, Buaben, Kightly; Beattie & Iwelumo.
Match Officials: (R) Mr K Stroud (ARs) Mr L Betts & Mr C Brook (4th) Mr S Ross.