By Dave Gooderham
Monday, November 19, 2012
MICK McCarthy is unconcerned about Michael Chopra’s past problems – only making sure last season’s top scorer is back among the goals.
Chopra’s season has mirrored his club’s after a promising start was followed by a poor run of form which has seen him suffer a goal drought that is closing in on three months.
The striker has scored just twice in 13 games this season but hasn’t started in the last eight matches under Paul Jewell and now McCarthy.
DJ Campbell’s fine form has seen the former Cardiff City man benched, while the loan signing of Tyrone Barnett from Peterborough last night threw fresh doubt on the futures of Chopra and Jason Scotland.
But McCarthy said: “I have a lot of time for Chops, certainly in terms of his ability. He’s been one of the really good Championship players over the last how many years and I’d like to get that out of him again.
“I just want to see him on the pitch. I’ve seen him in training and he is one of the best players here, there is no doubt about that.”
What has held Chopra back from fulfilling his full potential at Portman Road has arguably been his off-pitch problems – a public admission of his gambling problems, a club fine over nightclub activities, last season, and now a charge of race-fixing – something that is set to be determined in the New Year.
McCarthy said: “I actually don’t know about his (Chopra’s) problems. Why he’s not been in the team is for other people to say, all I can say is I’ve seen what he’s doing and I’ve been impressed.
“In DJ Campbell though we’ve got Johnny on the spot at the minute because he’s sticking the ball in the net.”
Chopra got his first minutes after McCarthy in Saturday’s 6-0 hammering by Leicester but McCarthy admitted at the end that he brought off Campbell to ensure he was fit for this weekend’s must-win home game against Peterborough.
Barnett will eventually hope to get the nod alongside Campbell, he will be eligible from next Tuesday’s home match against Nottingham Forest, with Daryl Murphy likely to start against Posh.
But the latest loan signing will also be competing with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who has been used almost exclusively as a reserve striker by the Town boss.
Of the former Arsenal man, McCarthy added: “He’s another really talented player, I think he can give us more and we’re trying to get the best of him.”