Ipswich Town travel to Port Vale for a League One clash tonight (7.45pm). Mark Heath previews the action...

Midfield mix

The big question- at least from a Town point of view - heading into this game is who plays in the central midfield roles.

Super skipper Sam Morsy will definitely miss the match, having picked up his fifth booking of the season in the win over Derby County on Friday night.

And it seem likely that his fellow starter and key man Lee Evans will also be absent, having hobbled off with a knee injury in the second half of that victory.

Kieran McKenna said Evans was having scans yesterday, but if the injury is sufficient to merit a scan, one imagines it's also sufficient to keep him out of this game.

So who replaces them? Battle-hardened Dominic Ball, a player with Championship pedigree and the physicality which is likely to be required in a game like this, is surely nailed on to start in one of the two spots.

In the second, will McKenna go with young talent Cameron Humphreys - a player who has always impressed whenever we've seen him - or could summer signing Panutche Camara be ready for his league bow for the Blues?

Camara's been battling back from a groin injury and saw minutes in both the EFL Trophy and for the U21s last week, but is he ready to start in the league?

Could he give 60 minutes of his trademark running and all-out effort before making way, or is creative spark Humphreys the better bet?

We'll find out at 6.45pm.

Forward quartet

The other question around the Town side for this game - as it is for every game these days - is who starts at the top of the pitch.

The back five is set in stone, with the midfield debate as discussed above, but McKenna tends to tinker with his forward four.

On Friday, Kayden Jackson, Marcus Harness, Wes Burns and Tyreece John-Jules got the nod in a game plan built around pace.

For this clash, where fight and physicality figure to feature at the fore, you'd imagine we'll see changes again.

Burns will surely get the nod once more, with Conor Chaplin and Freddie Ladapo also appearing suited to this sot of game.

Which just leaves the left-sided spot. Harness, who has been playing there, switched to a floating role on Friday as Jackson had a run at the port side and earned praise from McKenna. Will he stick or twist tonight?

Kyle Edwards, an electrifying talent who has played his way into the first XI reckoning in recent weeks, is another who could fill that role.

Valiants so far

Port Vale may be down in 14th in the table, but they've started pretty well since winning promotion from League Two last season.

Darrell Clarke's side are unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions, and notably upset Derby County 2-1 at Pride Park in Paul Warne's first home game in charge earlier this month.

They have a game in hand on most sides in the league and, if they won that, would be right on the fringes of the top six.

Pitch problems

A new wrinkle for Town to handle tonight could well be the pitch at Vale Park.

McKenna said yesterday: "It's going to be a challenge - a challenging pitch as well, which is probably the first time we're going to encounter that, but we're going to have that through the winter months, so that gives us another challenge and something that we have to be ready for."

Town generally dominate possession and the ball in every game they play. Will the pitch allow them to do that tonight?

Ipswich Star: Former Ipswich Town striker Ellis Harrison, who will face the Blues with Port Vale tonight, has spoken of his great friendship with Marcus StewartFormer Ipswich Town striker Ellis Harrison, who will face the Blues with Port Vale tonight, has spoken of his great friendship with Marcus Stewart (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Familiar face

Port Vale's leading scorer, Ellis Harrison, is a man to watch tonight.

The 28-year-old only scored once in his 17 games for Town during a season-long stay in 2018-19, but appears to have found a home in the Vale after stops with Portsmouth and Fleetwood since departing Suffolk.

He's bagged seven goals in 13 games so far this season, including two in his last two and five in his last six.

Harrison is also ranked third for Vale in chances created with 11, behind only Gavin Massey (14) and David Worrall (20).


A good old League One scrap on a problematic pitch appears to be in store tonight.

Previously, that would have worried me - but this Town outfit have already shown that they can win games in a variety of ways this season.

I fancy Town to win 2-0 - and head to Charlton on Saturday with more wind in their sails.