Roy ready to mix 'n' match

IPSWICH Town boss, Roy Keane, always plays his cards close to his chest, in terms of team selection.And there was not even a chance to guess his thinking, face-to-face, after yesterday's pre-Leicester City press conference was cancelled, due to Keane's inability to conquer the wintry weather from his home to Portman Road.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town boss, Roy Keane, always plays his cards close to his chest, in terms of team selection.

And there was not even a chance to guess his thinking, face-to-face, after yesterday's pre-Leicester City press conference was cancelled, due to Keane's inability to conquer the wintry weather from his home to Portman Road.

However, the Irishman has a history of coming up with surprises, like Colin Healy's sudden return from the cold to start at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, and likewise Owen Garvan's recall after three months in the wilderness for the goalless draw against Sheffield Wednesday.

In fact, Keane has only picked the same team, for two consecutive games, on one occasion during his tenure as Ipswich boss.

That ended in defeat. Keane stuck with the same XI that drew 3-3 at Sheffield United in late September, for the return visit to Yorkshire to take on Barnsley just four days later.

Most Read

Town lost 2-1 at Oakwell, but since then Keane has always changed his team in a run that has featured just one defeat in 13 matches.

But could tomorrow be the day when Keane chooses, for a second time, to name an unchanged line-up?

It's possible. Striker Jon Stead will serve the second of a four-match suspension, which forced him to sit out last weekend's FA Cup victory at Blackpool, and there are no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Leicester.

Jaime Peters played just behind lone front-man Stern John in the 2-1 win over the Seasiders, while the goals came from the midfield duo of Jack Colback and substitute Garvan.

Keane might be tempted to stay loyal to the same starting XI, but there's no guarantee.

Garvan is pushing for a start, following his match-winner at Bloomfield Road, and new keeper Brian Murphy is giving Arran Lee-Barrett some extra competition for the No. 1 berth.

The choice of strikers is intriguing. Connor Wickham has only started a couple of league games in his career, both last August, while neither Pablo Counago nor Tamas Priskin were in the 18-man squad last weekend.

Crystal Palace loanee John therefore looks odds-on to start again, either alongside a fellow out-and-out striker, or with Peters again operating just behind him.

Meanwhile, Leicester boss Nigel Pearson has a number of pleasant selection dilemmas to solve before tomorrow's game, both in defence and attack.

Experienced centre-half Wayne Brown is fighting fit again, after missing the last couple of matches because of a gluteus muscle strain.

Ex-Ipswich Town man Brown had not missed any of Leicester's previous

21 league games, although he might have a problem breaking up the youthful partnership of Jack Hobbs and Michael Morrison at the heart of defence.

If Brown does get the nod, it is likely to be at the expense of 21-year-old Bury St Edmunds-born Morrison.

Up front, leading scorer Matty Fryatt and target man Steve Howard have teamed up since loanee Martyn Waghorn was sent off during the defeat by Bristol City.

However, 19-year-old Waghorn, who yesterday extended his loan deal from Sunderland until the end of the season, could return following his three-match suspension.

Waghorn knows what its like to be a part of a Roy Keane squad - at the Stadium of Light - and his pace might prompt Pearson to recall him immediately. He has so far bagged five goals this term.

However, Howard offers a big presence up front, so its a tricky choice. What's not so difficult is deciding whether to pick Fryatt, because the ex-Walsall man has already plundered 12 goals this season, on the back of breaking the 30-goal barrier during Leicester's title-winning campaign in 2008-09.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter