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Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Progress for Ipswich Town, but hard to know just how much

PUBLISHED: 12:12 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:02 02 October 2017

There's much to ponder for Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy over the next fortnight. Photo: Steve Waller

There's much to ponder for Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy over the next fortnight. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

It’s time to pause, breath, recover, assess and analyse for Ipswich Town.

We’ve reached the second international break of the season after the usual frenetic opening two months of the Championship campaign.

Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City means the Blues have played 10, won six and lost four in the league. They’re eighth in the table with a game in hand on most. They have five more points than they did at this stage last season. This is a replica of the start made during the play-off season of 2014/15.

• Five observations from Ipswich Town’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City

They’re scoring more goals (it took them until mid-December to reach 20 last season), on the whole have looked more dynamic and been more entertaining, summer signings have impressed, homegrown players are getting game-time, while there are some key players to return from injury. It’s everything we realistically could have hoped for. And yet...

Four days on from that scintillating 5-2 dismantling of Sunderland on Suffolk soil came a limp showing. Luck and the referee were not on the Blues’ side, but they didn’t help themselves either. The impressive Robins, who must take credit, are now unbeaten in 11 games across all competitions. Town once again came up short against one of the division’s better sides. And that’s the worry.

All six of the teams they’ve beaten are in the bottom half. Five of them are 18th or below. Sunderland game aside, the victories have not been utterly convincing.

We won’t be able to fully judge how far Town have progressed until they’ve played everyone once.

• Mick McCarthy didn’t foresee flat display

After winning the opening five in all competitions, it’s now five losses from seven. There will undoubtedly be plenty more twists and turns to come.

The problem is, there’s a zeitgeist in place. A new generation of fans don’t remember this club in the top-flight, let alone conquering Europe. This is year 16 in the Championship. It’s been a slow and steady decline full of false dawns.

Is it harsh on Mick McCarthy and his players for every small set-back to be hyper-analysed because of that background? Yes, but that’s where we are at.

This season could still go one of two ways. Deep down there’s a nagging sense this is a mid-table outfit at best. At least the ride might be a bit more enjoyable this time around.

• Like our Facebook page for all the latest Blues news

In this week’s nostalgia, we take a look at when two goals from Chris Kiwomya earned Ipswich Town a replay with Aston Villa in the fourth round of the League Cup, in December 1992.

Ipswich Town take on Aston Villa, at Villa Park, in a Championship match this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the match.

Emyr Huws is excited by the chance to repay the faith shown in him by Mick McCarthy and the Ipswich Town fans after returning from an injury he admits ‘messed with his head’.

Teenage midfield duo Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam must compete for their places now senior players are returning to fitness, says Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy.

Fit-again Teddy Bishop is ready to play the role of super sub for Ipswich Town, says boss Mick McCarthy.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is ‘absolutely not’ seeking retrospective punishment for Sheffield Wednesday defender Glenn Loovens following his nasty challenge on David McGoldrick on Wednesday night.

Mick McCarthy is set to field ‘a few fresh faces’ when Ipswich Town face Aston Villa tomorrow, while he hinted at a start for Emyr Huws.

Following the news David McGoldrick faces a month out with a groin injury, sports writer Andy Warren looks at the arguements four and against Mick McCarthy’s potential replacement options.

Ipswich Town take on Aston Villa, at Villa Park, in a Championship match tomorrow (3pm ko).

Bartosz Bialkowski expects the return of midfielder Emyr Huws to give Ipswich Town a real boost as the Blues prepare for Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa.

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