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McCarthy hoping for defensive improvements with Webster and Smith available again

PUBLISHED: 16:19 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:15 12 October 2017

Ipswich Town defender Adam Webster could return to the starting line-up at Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town defender Adam Webster could return to the starting line-up at Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is hoping his side will tighten up defensively now that centre-backs Adam Webster and Tommy Smith are available again.

The Blues may be among the leading Championship goalscorers (20 in 10), but they have also conceded more than most too (16).

There have been mitigating circumstances, a host of injuries meaning it’s often been a patched up back four with the likes of Jordan Spence, Dominic Iorfa and Jonas Knudsen all having played out of position.

Webster and Smith are back now though after both missing a lot of football this calender year. It’s a timely boost given the tough-looking run of fixtures coming up – starting with Saturday’s game at third-placed Sheffield United.

• Town quartet passed fit for trip to Bramall lane

“I’d like to think we can tighten up more and not give the goals away we have,” said McCarthy.

“Bristol City were good two weeks ago (winning 3-1 at Portman Road), but two of their goals were deflected when all is said and done.

“There are other games where we’ve not helped ourselves though. Against Sunderland we score five, but I’m still not happy with the two we conceded.

“When you get defenders back you hope that you’ll concede less goals. But, if we’ve got the amount of attacking players on the pitch that we have, then it does make it harder to shut up shop.”

Webster, 22, took the step up from League Two side Portsmouth in his stride at the start of last season, exciting fans with his comfort on the ball before an ankle injury effectively ended his campaign in January. He returned to the starting line-up for the Carabao Cup tie at Luton back in August only for his ankle to give way again.

• Webster: My loyalties lie with Ipswich

“He looked a really good signing,” said McCarthy. “It’s been such a shame that he’s had the injuries because he really was thriving at this level and everyone was enjoying watching him play.

“I think he would have been attracting a lot of attention had he carried on playing as well as he been. There were clubs looking at him because the reports on how well he was playing and how highly I was speaking of him don’t go unnoticed.”

He added: “He’s great on the ball, but he should be concentrating on keeping it out the net this weekend.”

• Webster a Premier League player in the making, says boss

The Gunn family know all about the highs and lows that the East Anglian derby can provide and Angus is relishing the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father for Norwich this Sunday.

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers issued a rallying call to his team-mates ahead of Sunday’s derby clash with Norwich City telling them “now is the time to stand-up and be counted.”

Ipswich Town legend and former England captain Terry Butcher has paid tribute to his son Christopher’s “larger than life character” and described him as a “formidable and true friend” following the 35-year-old’s death.

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers has hit back at Nelson Oliveira’s claim that Norwich City are a ‘better club’ with ‘better players’ by calling the City striker ‘not very well educated’.

The fit-and-firing David McGoldrick is the Ipswich Town player that Norwich City fans would most like to have in the Canary ranks in Sunday’s East Anglian derby.

Former Ipswich Town star Marcus Stewart says players have to put themselves “in the shoes of the fans” on derby day.

Just 13 players have represented both Norwich City and Ipswich Town since 1980 – but can you remember which club those players represented more?

Ipswich Town legend George Burley believes the Blues have their best chance of winning an East Anglian derby in years at Portman Road this Sunday lunchtime (12pm ko).

Daniel Farke may be new to East Anglian rivalries but the Norwich City boss warns Ipswich Town face a titanic struggle to break the derby spell.

Every derby is about passion, loyalty and tribal pride. We get it. Ipswich Town v Norwich City is no different. But who do you have a sneaking regard for in the Canaries’ line up?

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