Let us make no mistake here, Bournemouth gaffer Eddie Howe has worked miracles at the club and The Cherries are a team that will test the Town resolve to the full and Mick McCarthy knows it!
When the blues face the club that is currently occupying one of the two automatic promotion places in the Championship he will be only too aware that they are not there by default. They play an attractive passing game and are always a serious goal threat as the + 17 goals tally will confirm.
This might force the manager into his shell a little and he may opt to play Dean Gerken now that he is fully fit instead of stand-in keeper Bartosz Bialkowski who has done little wrong to date.
That said, against such fierce opposition he will be tested much more thoroughly than before. Personally I think he should stick with the keeper who has conceded just one goal in three encounters but it is a nice headache for the manager to have and he has other decisions that are influenced by players coming back to the fold to make between now and the kick off at Dean Court.
Luke Hyam is available again after his one match ban but should he come back into the team? Kevin Bru surely deserves his place on merit and who would deny Stephen Hunt another game on his more recent form?
Cole Skuse is also fit again as is Teddy Bishop and where Bishop adds creativity to the team Skuse adds caution. McCarthy may think that in this kind of intense environment Town must not throw caution to the wind and he may prefer a more negative formation as a point would be a big plus in this fearsome encounter.
Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor will be only too aware that the blues could fall behind and he will need lots of attacking options on the bench to counter this.
I expect both Darren Ambrose and Alex Henshall to be there, along perhaps with Paul Anderson and Conor Sammon joining them, in what promises to be an enthralling game and the latest test to see how far Town have progressed in a season of much promise.
Frank Weston – Editor Vital Ipswich