Seasiders without a win since THAT year

THE last time that Blackpool beat Ipswich Town, was the year that Town won the FA Cup.The Seasiders have not enjoyed the best of times against Town, since beating them 2-0 in a League Cup tie in August, 1978.

Carl Marston

by Carl Marston

THE last time that Blackpool beat Ipswich Town, was the year that Town won the FA Cup.

The Seasiders have not enjoyed the best of times against Town, since beating them 2-0 in a League Cup tie in August, 1978. Three months before, Sir Bobby Robson's men had lifted the FA Cup.

This afternoon will be the first time that these two clubs have met in the FA Cup, and visiting boss Roy Keane faces a tough team selection as he bids to extend Town's unbeaten record over Blackpool to six games.

The choices in midfield are bountiful, but Keane's chief problems are in defence and attack.

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A group of six strikers is down to four, following Jon Stead's four-match suspension and loanee Stern John's return to Crystal Palace. Stead and John were arguably Keane's first choice pairing.

That leaves the door open for Pablo Counago, Tamas Priskin and 16-year-old Connor Wickham, with skipper Jon Walters also able to revert to a striker from his recent position on the flank.

Keane revealed: "Connor Wickham has been looking lively. But do I start with Connor? Is he ready to start a game, who knows?

"I think he's looked stronger with his cameo roles, as with his 15 minutes the other day (3-0 win over QPR).

"I also have decent options in Pablo and Tamas.

"Tamas is back in contention, as he was against QPR. Lee Martin, Colin Healy and Liam Trotter are also back in the frame."

Keane said of the John situation: "We haven't extended Stern John's loan at the moment, but hopefully we'll be trying to do something.

"It would have been pushing it a bit to get him registered in time to play at the weekend. It might be another week or two.

"I liked Stern John around the place. He has a presence, and he was unlucky to have a goal chalked off against Peterborough (in a goalless draw)."

Arran Lee-Barrett will continue in goal, because new signing Brian Murphy is not available until the trip to Leicester City on Sunday week.

Just in front of him, both left-back David Wright and left-sided centre-half Damien Delaney are set to miss out due to ankle injuries.

Wright played 11 games on the trot before sitting out the home win over QPR, while Delaney has been ever-present in the last nine fixtures.

Jaime Peters played at left-back against QPR, while Keane has a choice of Alex Bruce (back from injury), Pim Balkestein (back from his loan spell at Brentford) and Tommy Smith to partner Gareth McAuley in central defence.

Town may have eased to a 3-1 home over Blackpool in a Championship fixture at Portman Road, just three weeks ago, but Keane is not resting on his laurels. Far from it.

"Blackpool played some good stuff down here. They had some good possession and are a dangerous team," insisted Keane.

"This is the FA Cup, but my mentality is always the same for every game.

"We will have supporters travelling up to watch us, and it's one we want to win.

"That's our make-up, to try and win every game, but managers will all be saying that up and down the country."

Asked about his hopes for 2010, Keane paused to reflect before saying:

"I just hope that we can win at Blackpool.

"Otherwise, I hope to be as happy and as contented as I can at Ipswich.

"I'm just glad to be in football, and glad to be at Ipswich.

"Football is my life and I love it. I want to stay in the game.

Obviously there are lots of things that I regret from the last decade, but as Oasis said - "Don't look back in anger!

"I consider myself to be a very lucky man."

Ex-Ipswich Town front-runner Billy Clarke will again miss out playing against his old club, due to a knee injury, while midfielder Hameur Bouazza is away with Algeria in the Africa Cup of Nations.


BLACKPOOL: Rachubka, Eardley, Evatt, Baptiste, Crainey, Southern, Vaughan, Burgess, Ormerod, Taylor-Fletcher, Euell, Adam, Edwards, Bangura, Demontagnac, Nardiello, Bannan, Martin, Almond, Halstead.

IPSWICH TOWN: Lee-Barrett, Rosenior, McAuley, Bruce, Peters, Martin, Leadbitter, Colback, Garvan, Walters, Counago, Priskin, Wickham, Norris, Balkestein, Healy, Edwards, Quinn, Smith, Trotter, McLoughlin.

Referee: Mr Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)