Match preview: Wolves v Ipswich Town – Everything you need to know
PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 December 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has joked that so many of his former clubs are beginning to appear unrecognisable ahead of this afternoon’s trip to Wolves.
McCarthy spent almost six years in charge at Molineux, guiding the West Midlands club to the Championship title, twice keeping them in the Premier League before controversially being sacked towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
Five managers and five seasons later, including a brief stint in League One and two bottom-half finishes in the second-tier, Wolves have been transformed by a mega-money Chinese takeover.
Former Valencia and Porto head coach Nuno Espirito Santo spent millions assembling a squad full of Portuguese stars last summer, with 10 wins from the last 12 opening up a four point lead at the top of the table.
“There are a few clubs I’ve left that seem to have changed,” laughed McCarthy, who has worked on a shoestring budget during his five years at Portman Road.
“I keep looking at Manchester City and wondering if I played there – I think I did!
“Barnsley will be the next one after their Chinese takeover this week. I’m not envious of anybody though, I just keep enjoying what I’m doing.”
McCarthy, who has always insisted he would have kept Wolves up had they not pulled the trigger, continued: “I had my time there, a brilliant time, won the league, then had two-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League – that’s a great deal of success. I wasn’t bitter when I left and I’m still not now.
“They are doing very, very well. It’s taken them a while to get it right, but they seem to have got the right coach and the right players.
“Heavens, they had a £13.5m sub coming on the other day. They’ve spent money, but it looks to me like money well spent.
“They look a really good side, they’ve got that team spirit and they are very stoic. Despite all the flair football they have defended and won 1-0 when needed.”
Town have won three of their last four games to move to within two points of the top-six.
Midfielder Kevin Bru, who is likely to replace the injured Cole Skuse today, said: “We feel confident, we know we have good players and you can feel the squad is all together. Maybe that spirit can take us to the play-offs.”
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santos (May ‘17: W19 D4 L3)
Ground: Molineux (31,700)
Last five finishes: 15th, 14th, 7th (all Championship), 1st (Lg One), 23rd (Championship)
Current position: 1st (W16 D3 L3 F42 A17)
Recent form: WDWWWWWWLD
Home form: P11 W8 D2 L1 F24 A10
Last game: W 1-0 (a) Sheff Weds
Top-scorers: Bonatini (12), Jota (9), Cavaleiro (6)
Most assists: Douglas (7), Cavaleiro & Bonatini (5)
Ipswich Town 0 Wolves 0
Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Blues fans sat through a typically stale spectacle. This was a sixth draw from seven for Town, while relegation-battling Wolves – who struck the woodwork twice late on – ended a six-game losing streak.
The last three meetings between these sides have ended goalless.
20 - Only three teams have leaked more away goals than Town
1 - Wolves have drawn a blank just once at home (0-0 v Sunderland)
58 – Wolves only need seven more points to equal their tally from the entirety of 2016/17
Ipswich Town team news
• Cole Skuse withdrew at half-time of last weekend’s 2-0 home win against Reading with a badly bruised foot and won’t be risked today. • Mick McCarthy now has seven central midfielders injured, with Skuse and Flynn Downes (calf), joining Emyr Huws (knee), Tom Adeyemi (hamstring), Tristan Nydam (hips), Andre Dozzell (knee) and Luke Hyam (knee) in the treatment room. • It means that the transfer-listed Kevin Bru – who himself has missed some training this week with a ribs injury – is set to start today. • Wolves loanee Dominic Iorfa is ineligible to face his parent club.
Wolves team news
• Left-sided Barry Douglas, who has seven assists to his name, is available again after missing last Friday’s 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday with a knock. He said: “I think the last few games you look at the way we’ve won – it’s not been lovely two-touch football as we had been doing before. It’s nice to know that when things get sticky we can grind out results as well.”
• Winger Helder Costa is pushing for a start, while Alfred N’Diaye and Bright Enobakhare are also options if Nuno Espirito Santo chooses to freshen up his side for the busy Christmas period.
Wolves (3-4-3): Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Saiss, Neves, Douglas; Cavaleiro, Bonatini, Jota.
Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers, Webster, Knudsen; Bru, Connolly; Ward, Waghorn, Celina; Garner.
Key opposition man
Diogo Jota The Portuguese left-sided attacker, on loan from Atletico Madrid, has set the Championship alight. Teams have started doubling up on him though and he’s been subdued of late. When he sparkles, Wolves do.
David Coote (Nottinghamshire) Games: 15, Yellow: 53, Reds: 1
Ipswich Town 10/1
Wolves 2 Ipswich Town 0
Wolves have potent mix of star quality and team spirit. Town have, in general, been coming up just short on their travels.