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Match preview: Derby haven’t conceded a goal since Town’s Ram-raid

PUBLISHED: 12:32 28 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:32 28 December 2017

Bartosz Bialkowski gives former team-mate Tom Lawrence a hug after Ipswich's win at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Bartosz Bialkowski gives former team-mate Tom Lawrence a hug after Ipswich's win at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

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Ipswich Town host Derby County in a Championship match at Portman Road on Saturday. STUART WATSON previews the latest instalment of the festive action.

Callum Connolly scores his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix Callum Connolly scores his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Games coming thick and fast

This is game three of five in a hectic 15-day turn-of-the-year schedule.

Town boss Mick McCarthy rotated his squad for the tame Boxing Day goalless home draw with QPR, making five changes to the side which had narrowly lost 1-0 at Wolves prior to Christmas.

After Saturday comes a trip to Fulham (January 2), followed by the FA Cup third round visit of Sheffield United (January 6).

Midfield woes

It was heartbreaking to see Teddy Bishop limp off with a hamstring injury less than 45 minutes into his first start of the season.

The Blues now have eight central midfielders sidelined, with Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell (both knee) out for the season, Cole Skuse (missed the last two with a bruised ankle) a doubt for tomorrow, and Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Flynn Downes (calf), Tristan Nydam (hip) and Luke Hyam (knee) seemingly all not ready to return to action just yet.

Who will partner Callum Connolly tomorrow? Kevin Bru missed the QPR game as he was attending a funeral and comes back into the equation. Grant Ward has played centrally before and could be called upon.

Callum Connolly celebrates his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix Callum Connolly celebrates his early goal at Derby. Photo: Pagepix

Rams out for revenge

Town kept up their incredible record at Pride Park (W7 D3) with a battling 1-0 win on November 28, the Blues standing firm after Connolly’s expert early header.

Conversely, Derby have rather enjoyed coming to Portman Road in recent times though, their 3-0 victory last season making it four wins from five on Suffolk soil.

Since losing to Town, Gary Rowett’s men have kept five successive clean sheets and dropped just two points.

Tom Huddlestone (top) and Derby team-mates celebrate David Nugent's second goal in a recent 3-0 home win against Millwall. Photo: PA Tom Huddlestone (top) and Derby team-mates celebrate David Nugent's second goal in a recent 3-0 home win against Millwall. Photo: PA

They won 1-0 against Burton (h), 3-0 at Barnsley, 2-0 against Aston Villa (h), 3-0 against Millwall (h) and drew 0-0 at Hull on Tuesday to move to within two points of the automatic promotion places.

Curtis Davies, Bradley Johnson, Joe Ledley, Tom Huddlestone, Matej Vydra, David Nugent, Tom Lawrence... This is a star-studded Rams side that really should be challenging at the top.

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Town are now an equidistant 19 points between top and bottom and an equidistant five points between the play-off places and bottom half.

Tom Lawrence scored 11 goals on loan at Ipswich Town from Leicester last season. Photo: PA Tom Lawrence scored 11 goals on loan at Ipswich Town from Leicester last season. Photo: PA

The next few games could determine how long top-six talk continues.

Long-serving defender Tommy Smith admits the tears were flowing when he said goodbye to his Ipswich Town team mates having today completed his move to MLS side Colorado Rapids.

Ipswich Town remain 12th in the Championship table following Saturday’s dire 1-1 draw at lowly Bolton Wanderers.

Martyn Waghorn knows he and his team-mates must rediscover their clinical side and begin to put together winning runs if they are maintain any kind of play-off push.

Former Ipswich Town player Georges Santos joined Andy Warren for a special edition of the Kings of Anglia Podcast.

Joe Garner turned home to finish off a superb Ipswich Town move as the Blues rescued a draw at Bolton.

Town fan Karl Fuller looks back at Town’s draw at Bolton and why one of Mick McCarthy’s after-match comments was not needed

The answer to the question Mick McCarthy posed after his side’s 1-1 draw at Bolton is undoubtedly ‘no’.

Terry Hunt says a feeling of togetherness between fans and the club appears a million miles away at Portman Road right now.

Player watch: It’s fair to say Ipswich Town’s two Friday signings split opinion when they were unveiled.

Ipswich Town drew a scrappy Championship match 1-1 at Bolton Wanderers this afternoon. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.

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