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Ipswich Town boss: Don't question my loyalty towards Blues players

Freddie Sears' reaction on missing the target after going around Sheffield Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood on Saturday during the second half

Freddie Sears' reaction on missing the target after going around Sheffield Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood on Saturday during the second half

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Mick McCarthy has defended his decision to drop Freddie Sears, after revealing the striker will continue on the bench for today's clash at Bristol City, insisting his loyalty to his players cannot be questioned.

Since scoring at Fulham on December 15 last year, Sears has netted just twice in 42 Championship appearances – both goals coming in the previous six games, although he has often been deployed out wide during that period.

Despite his barren run, McCarthy stuck with the ex-Colchester man and the forward has started on the bench only three times during that period – all three occasions, ironically, in the previous nine games.

The Blues boss will again start with Luke Varney for today’s clash at Ashton Gate, McCarthy revealing on Thursday an unchanged line-up for the game against Newmarket-born Lee Johnson’s Robins.

Varney scored in last weekend’s 3-0 home win over QPR, and McCarthy has no qualms about choosing the veteran over Sears.

Asked if he was giving Sears a chance to “recharge the batteries”, McCarthy replied: “People ask me that, but I didn’t leave him out ... he’s played 40 games and scored two goals so my loyalty is not going to be questioned surely, in terms of keeping players in the team and being loyal to them.”

He added: “I wanted more of a physical presence (against QPR) which Reg (Varney) gives me and I think the goalkeeper (QPR’s Alex Smithies) saw him coming (for the second goal) and he made a mistake accordingly.

“It is tough when you have someone as good as Freddie and how selflessly he works and what he does for the team, but sometimes it requires a change.”

Town go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time in the Championship this season and face a City side that have lost five of their last six league encounters.

That form has coincided with a barren spell for on-loan Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham who, after netting nine goals in his opening 11 games, has scored just one in seven since.

Last term, towering centre-back Aden Flint did the damage against the Blues, scoring two headers from set-pieces in a 2-1 win.

“We will keep an eye on him, but it’s hard to miss him as he’s about six-foot-seven,”joked McCarthy.

“It’s one of those things. If the ball’s right and the run’s right, it’s hard to stop him unfortunately.

“It was Lee Johnson’s first game in charge, it was party time, he came in and got a win.

“We conceded two goals from corners which we very rarely do, but their deliveries were brilliant, the movement was good, and we could not stop it.”

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