Ipswich could be without star duo Owen Garvan (virus) and Jon Walters (hamstring) for the match against Sheffield United. On a brighter note, the Blues welcome back captain Gareth McAuley, having missed a hat trick of games, and midfield maestro David Norris having sustained a dead leg against Derby last Saturday that caused him to miss Tuesday’s defeat away at Birmingham City.
The high-flying Blades currently sit in fourth spot with 31 points and a goal difference of +10 from their 19 games. Ipswich are in eleventh with 27 points and a +8 goal difference from their 19. Both teams will be looking to bounce back from their defeats to the top two in midweek. Sheffield United lost 3-1 at home to leaders Wolves while Town were defeated 2-1 away to Birmingham City.
United nearly made the play-offs last season, eventually finishing in ninth spot. After spending much of the season in the lower reaches of the table under the management of Bryan Robson, the Blades changed the man at the top and Kevin Blackwell took them to the final day with an outside shot of the play-offs, much like Ipswich had.
Interestingly, today’s game brings Sheffield United, yet to drop a point after taking the lead in a game, against Town, yet to win from a losing position. The outcome looks bleak for the Blues is they were to go a goal or two behind today.
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From the Dugouts:
Ipswich boss Jim Magilton is looking for a reaction following the defeat in midweek: ‘It’s just the sort of game we need after Tuesday night, a big match in front of our home fans.
‘Sheffield are a good side with a lot of experienced players. They are solid at the back and James Beattie and Billy Sharp look a good partnership up front. Beattie is a top player and should be in the Premier League.
‘I expect us to look after the ball better than we did at Birmingham and stamp our authority on the game from the first whistle.’
Ipswich Town Team News:
As mentioned, the Blues welcome back Gareth McAuley and David Norris. The Town skipper is likely to replace the unfortunate Alex Bruce at the back, who scored his first goal for the club in Tuesday’s defeat at St Andrew’s. Moritz Volz is also pushing for a recall with Ben Thatcher likely to miss out.
Should Walters be unfit, Norris could move to the right, as could Darren Ambrose or ex-Blades Alan Quinn. Tommy Miller and Ivan Campo could also be involved, with Danny Haynes likely to feature at some point. In attack, Pablo Counago is looking to start having scored against Derby last week.
Player to watch: Pablo Counago
On his day, anything can happen. He has got his confidence back following his goal against the Rams and will be looking for more of the same against Sheffield today with the backing of the Portman Road faithful.
Sheffield United Team News:
Sheffield United could be without veteran Welshman Gary Speed, who has a back injury. Eight goal James Beattie is likely to be partnered by Darius Henderson up front, while Ugo Ehiogu returns from a three-match ban.
Player to watch: James Beattie
Match Facts & Stats
Sheffield United: LWLWW
Draws have been the most frequent result between the two teams in the 60 matches they have played, 22 in fact. Ipswich have beaten Sheffield United 21 times while the Blades have been victorious on 17 occasions. At Portman Road in the league, Ipswich have won 13, drawn 11 and lost 3.
The Blues drew 1-1 with United at Portman Road back in march, leaving manager Kevin Blackwell still looking for his first win as boss. James Beattie scored for them in the first half, Ipswich scoring through Alan Lee in the second.
Today’s ref hasn’t been in charge of an Ipswich or Sheffield United game so far in his career. His name is Dean Whitestone.
Having predicted a Birmingham win in midweek, I feel that we should have enough about us to overcome Sheffield United. They are fourth and deservedly so, but home advantage should favour the Blues. I am going for a 2-0 Ipswich win.
…it’s the big one. The first East Anglian derby is almost upon us and kicks off 1.15pm on Sunday 7th December. The game at Carrow Road is also live on Sky.