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Six key talking points ahead of Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:09 01 December 2017

Daryl Murphy has scored seven goals for Nottingham Forest. Photo: PA

Daryl Murphy has scored seven goals for Nottingham Forest. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town host Nottingham Forest in a Championship clash at Portman Road on Saturday. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Nottingham Forest's fans celebrate Britt Assombalonga scoring their third goal of the game against Ipswich Town on the final day of last season. Photo: PA Nottingham Forest's fans celebrate Britt Assombalonga scoring their third goal of the game against Ipswich Town on the final day of last season. Photo: PA

Two improved sides

Forest beat Town 3-0 at The City Ground on the final day of last season. It sparked a joyous pitch invasion as Mark Warburton’s side beat the drop, while for the Blues it confirmed a 16th-place finish and brought the curtain down on a forgettable campaign.

Both teams have taken steps in the right direction since then. Town’s fantastic 1-0 win at Derby on Tuesday night keeps them within three points of the play-off places. Forest are just one place and two points behind.

VIDEO: Watch the highlights of Town’s 1-0 win at Derby

Which Forest will turn up?

Warburton has placed his faith in youth and never wavered from a high-tempo, passing philosophy. When it’s worked, they’ve been virtually unstoppable – a swashbuckling 4-0 home win against QPR evidence of that.

They are the only Championship side without a draw to their name though (nine wins, 10 defeats) and inconsistency is an issue.

Cardiff produced some wily game-management to win 2-0 there on Saturday, while they’ve lost four of their last five away games.

Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton. Photo: PA Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton. Photo: PA

COMMENT: Six key talking points following Town’s 1-0 win at Derby

Return of the ex

Daryl Murphy is among the top 10 league scorers in Ipswich Town history following his 67 goals in 226 games spaced over five years.

Nottingham Forest paid £2m to sign Daryl Murphy from Newcastle United back in the summer. Photo: PA Nottingham Forest paid £2m to sign Daryl Murphy from Newcastle United back in the summer. Photo: PA

The Republic of Ireland international, who will turn 35 next March, helped Newcastle to promotion last season before completing a £2m move to Forest. Such was their desire to get him they handed out a three-year deal.

Murphy’s been the focal point of their attack in a 4-2-3-1 system, not only scoring seven goals but also bringing into play the likes of talented Everton loanee Kieran Dowell, tricky Scottish winger Barrie McKay and homegrown heroes Tyler Walker and Ben Osborn (all aged 22 or younger).

SOCIAL MEDIA: Like our Facebook for all the latest Blues news

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers will serve a one-game suspension. Photo: Steve Waller Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers will serve a one-game suspension. Photo: Steve Waller

Skipper’s out

Luke Chambers played every minute of every Championship game last season. He showed just how important he is as skipper by instigating an impromptu team huddle following Callum Connolly’s goal at Pride Park on Tuesday night.

Town’s on and off-field leader will serve a one-game ban tomorrow though after collecting his fifth booking of the campaign in midweek.

He’ll be a big miss given his impressive recent form and the nature of the midweek clean sheet.

Joe Garner is out of Town's game with Nottingham Forest with a foot injury. Photo: Steve Waller Joe Garner is out of Town's game with Nottingham Forest with a foot injury. Photo: Steve Waller

THE DEBATE: Who will replace Chambers in defence?

Mick McCarthy had to field a makeshift defence earlier in the campaign when Chambers was injured and will have to do so again.

Much depends on whether Tommy Smith is fit following a calf injury. If he’s not, then Jordan Spence or Jonas Knudsen could move inside, with either Dominic Iorfa or Myles Kenlock coming into the team.

It once again raises the debate as to whether Town should have signed a replacement for Christophe Berra back in the summer instead of going into the season with just three senior centre-backs.

PLAYER: ‘We need to start sharing the goals out’ - Connolly

Injury curse moved on

Earlier in the season, Town’s injuries centred around the centre-backs with Chambers, Smith and Adam Webster all sidelined at the same time for a spell.

When that situation started to ease, the curse moved onto central midfield – at one stage Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi, Teddy Bishop, Luke Hyam, Flynn Downes and Andre Dozzell were all out.

Now, just as Huws and Bishop have returned to action, it’s the strikers who are going down like flies.

David McGoldrick will be out for a month with the nasty cut he sustained to his groin courtesy of Glenn Looven’s horror tackle in last week’s 2-2 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday, while Joe Garner missed the 1-0 win at Derby with a foot injury.

In their absence, nine-goal top-scorer Martyn Waghorn led the line superbly at Pride Park, with Huws operating in behind, Grant Ward on the right and Bersant Celina on the left.

COMMENT: Waghorn proves Town aren’t stuck in the middle without Garner

Fatigue factor

This will be a fifth tough game in 15 gruelling days for Town.

In the space of a month there have been away trips to Burton, Cardiff, Hull, Aston Villa and Derby.

Tuesday night was a rearranged match from earlier in the campaign. Forest, meanwhile, were at home with their feet up and should arrive in Suffolk the fresher outfit.

The unrelenting schedule doesn’t get any easier. There may be no midweek games now until the new year, but next Saturday there will be a long trip to Middlesbrough, then comes the visit of Reading, followed by a game at league-leaders Wolves on December 23.

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