After a week of playing ‘pretend Premier League’, it’s back to the reality of Championship football for Ipswich Town as Paul Jewell faces his first match in charge away to Millwall.
Even though Ipswich have faced Chelsea and Arsenal in the past week, an even tougher test awaits new manager Jewell on Saturday: getting Town’s league campaign back on track. For all their Carling Cup exploits, Town’s last league loss to Nottingham Forest cost Roy Keane his job and left the Blues lingering just 3 points above the drop zone. The challenge of masterminding a recovery therefore falls to Jewell, who admitted that it could take time for the team to re-establish itself among the top clubs in the Championship – a status which Town haven’t held since Jewell’s Wigan Athletic narrowly pipped them to automatic promotion in 2005. It could be a long time before Jewell is able to repeat that feat with Ipswich, if he ever can, but getting off to a good start would help.
That task begins with a trip to 9th-placed Millwall, who Town face for the third time this season. Keane guided the Blues to a 2-1 win on their last trip to The Den in the Carling Cup 3rd Round in September before securing a 2-0 league win at Portman Road a month later. Jewell will have a job on his hands to make it a hat-trick though, with Town recording just 2 league wins since then whilst the Lions have kept themselves in the playoff race. Indeed, a win could lift Kenny Jackett’s side back into the top six and dump Town into the drop zone in the process. A win for Ipswich however would give them some breathing space as well as a timely confidence boost. And after their triumph over Arsenal, Town must be believing that they can beat just about anyone.
New Ipswich boss Paul Jewell is looking forward to his first game in charge on Saturday. He stressed that the Blues should not expect an easy ride at Millwall, but the midweek win over Arsenal should give his players confidence as they head into the rest of the campaign.
‘We had a great result on Wednesday’, Jewell told the Club’s Official Website. ‘I think it was beneficial for me to watch from the stands and I learnt that the players have character and loads of desire and they need to take all that into the rest of the season.’
‘Millwall will be a hard game… but we are looking forward to it and if the players show the same qualities as they did against Arsenal, we will be okay over the rest of the season.’
Millwall Team News:
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett will be without a number of players for Saturday’s match against Ipswich. Club captain Paul Robinson is suffering from a hamstring problem as is defensive partner Danny Shittu, whilst striker Josh McQuoid, Tamika Mkandawire and former Town midfielder Liam Trotter are also sidelined. There will also be no place for on-loan Ipswich striker Kevin Lisbie who is ineligible under the terms of his loan deal.
Player to watch: Steve Morison
With loanee striker Jason Puncheon having recently returned to Southampton, the goalscoring responsibilites at The Den look likely to remain with top scorer Steve Morison. The former Stevenage striker has netted 9 times in the Championship this season, his last goal coming in the Lions’ 2-0 win over Leicester City in late December. Morison also scored a further two goals in the Carling Cup, one of which came against Ipswich on the Blues’ last visit to The Den in September. The Town defence can’t say they haven’t been warned.
Ipswich Town Team News:
Paul Jewell has been handed a boost ahead of his first game with the news that Jason Scotland and Luke Hyam are fit to return to the squad. Top scorer Scotland missed the Cup win over Arsenal with a knock picked up at Chelsea last week, while Hyam has been out for some time with a hamstring injury. Rory Fallon also returns having been cup-tied for both matches, but loanee Jake Livermore will not be available having travelled back to Tottenham Hotspur for treatment for a groin injury. Troy Brown, Shane O’Connor, Brian Murphy and Alan Quinn are still sidelined, though Luciano Civelli may be in contention for his long-awaited return to action having been named on the substitutes bench by Ian McParland in the Blues’ last two matches.
Player to watch: Tamas Priskin
We named Tamas Priskin as our Man to Watch against Arsenal and he promptly delivered with the winning goal, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that he might be set for a return to form. The Hungarian international hasn’t played a league match since being dropped by Roy Keane following a poor showing from the bench at Preston in December. However, having scored his sixth goal of the season on Wednesday, Priskin may be given a new lease of life by new boss Paul Jewell following a fairly turbulent 18 months for the striker since joining from Watford in August 2009. Millwall could well be a good place for him to start as well, with the 24-year-old having scored at The Den in Town’s Carling Cup win over the Lions back in September. Indeed, if he can finally find his confidence, he may prove to be a good bit of business by the old boss after all.
FLC – (14th) Ipswich 2-0 Millwall (9th)
30 October 2010
(Click here for Match Report)
Ipswich: Scotland 5, Leadbitter (pen) 56
Ipswich: Fulop, McAuley, Delaney, Smith, Eastman, Leadbitter, Edwards, Norris (Livermore 80), Colback, Scotland (Murray 71), Priskin (Wickham 66)
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Barron, Shittu, Trotter, Schofield, Henry, Abdou (Carter 54), Morison, Robinson (Marquis 54)
Well, I suppose this is the start of a new era. With Roy Keane out and Paul Jewell in, it’s anybody’s guess what kind of performance we’re going to see from the Blues on Saturday. The win over Arsenal however has demonstrated exactly what the boys are capable of, and I think they can gain a lot of confidence from what they achieved on Wednesday. It’s not very often that a team can beat any other team three times in one season, so the odds are probably against us to make it a hat-trick against Millwall, but I’m still reasonably confident that the ‘honeymoon’ effect might give us a much-needed three points.
Prediction: A repeat of the past, but one that will hopefully set us on the way to a brighter future. Millwall 1-2 Ipswich.
Make your prediction for this match by joining the Vital Ipswich Prediction League! Click here for details or here to post your entry for this week’s fixtures. (Entries must be posted by 2:30pm on Saturday.)