Ipswich have lost McGoldrick for a month... so who will McCarthy use in his place?
PUBLISHED: 13:30 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:30 24 November 2017
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.
FOR: The Welshman returned to the Ipswich side as a substitute in Wednesday night’s clash with Sheffield Wednesday and made an instant impact, as he supplied the pass for Martyn Waghorn’s pinpoint header.
His return has certainly given both the team and fans a lift, with a place in the starting XI his next target. That could come at Villa, where he scored the winner last season, with a role replacing McGoldrick a possibility.
Should McCarthy wish to continue with his front four, both at Villa and beyond, Huws could play a central role behind Joe Garner, where he would be free to create, get into the box and link midfield to attack without being burdened with the physical battle of central midfield.
AGAINST: McCarthy has certainly been wary of rushing Huws back too early.
A succession of set-backs led to the midfielder playing three Under 23 games before he returned to the bench for the Wednesday clash, having missed out on a similar role at Hull the previous Saturday.
You can certainly see a scenario where McCarthy would prefer to ease his star summer signing back into regular action, rather than rushing him into the side from the start. Could be an option as part of a front four in future games.
FOR: The former Tottenham man had been a regular under McCarthy for much of his time at Portman Road, but has had to get used to a substitute role of late.
His last start was at Cardiff, where he performed well without excelling, but he has come on and been effective in the Blues last three games despite playing a combined 46 minutes.
He can be used as a wide option, which could allow either Waghorn or Bersant Celina to move inside and allow McCarthy to continue to utilise a front four, while also offering more defensively than the rest of his attacking colleagues.
AGAINST: Ward has said himself that he sees his game as more fitting to central midfield.
He doesn’t offer the flair or unpredictability of either McGoldrick or Huws and is a little more limited creatively.
While he is more than comfortable playing in wide role, it’s been a while since we’ve seen him burn past his man and terrorise a full-back.
FOR: Sears started the season as one of four senior strikers at McCarthy’s disposal, but has played the least of any of them.
At his best, the former Colchester United forward can run at defenders, get in behind and be a perfect foil for a striker like Garner.
He needs minutes if he is going to find any kind of form and, if McCarthy sees his side continuing with an attacking four this season, it would pay to do all he can to ensure Sears can play his part in it.
AGAINST: The 27-year-old is horribly out of form, that much is clear.
While his display as a second-half substitute against Sheffield Wednesday was bright and full of running, as well as a great ball to help create Waghorn’s goal, there were two key moments which have been held up as evidence against him. Yes, he should have squared for Celina after taking the ball round the goalkeeper and, yes, he and Garner managed to lose the ball in the corner in the build-up to Wednesday’s equaliser.
Does McCarthy want to play a striker so lacking in confidence in such a tough away trip?
A central midfield three
FOR: The absence of McGoldrick, and the difficulty attached with a trip to in-form Villa, could, of course, lead to McCarthy changing his system.
Perhaps the most likely option would be to drop a man out of the front four and bolster the midfield. Huws is an option there, as long as McCarthy is happy he can start, as is the calm head of Kevin Bru who has come back into contention in recent weeks.
Another potential partner for Cole Skuse and Callum Connolly would be the all-action teenager Tristan Nydam, who appears to have well and truly forced his way ahead of fellow youngster Flynn Downes.
AGAINST: The Blues may not have beaten either Hull or Sheffield Wednesday, but McCarthy’s front four have still been effective.
The televised clash with Wednesday was as entertaining as there as been in recent times, with the formation not only showcasing the forward line but also bringing the best out of Cole Skuse.
At a time when Ipswich fans are crying out to be entertained it may pay to play to the Blues’ current strengths.
FOR: Mick McCarthy is a big fan of the traditional system and may see this as a sensible, solid, option heading to Villa.
He would have a few decisions to make here, though, particularly in the two wide positions and up front.
You would expect Garner and Waghorn to be the starting strikers in a 4-4-2, but in the wide roles he would need to choose two of Ward, Celina and Sears.
AGAINST: While McCarthy does like the traditional formation, the personnel he has available to him may force him to think differently.
For example, if he wants to start with Huws in a 4-4-2, he would need to break up the central midfield combination of Skuse and Connolly, who have struck up an impressive partnership of late.
Certainly some decisions to make for the Ipswich manager.