Time for Ipswich Town strikers to step up to the plate

Frank Nouble and Paul Taylor

Frank Nouble and Paul Taylor - Credit: Archant

Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

The Blues yesterday lost 16-goal star striker David McGoldrick to a knee injury for at least 10 weeks, a hammer blow to their top-six hopes.

But out of adversity comes opportunity and Mick McCarthy’s back-up hitmen should be champing at the bit to take Town’s season by the scruff of the neck.

Eight-goal Daryl Murphy is likely to be a safe bet for Saturday’s trip to league leaders Leicester City, and could plough a lone furrow if McCarthy opts to try and stifle Nigel Pearson’s free-scoring team.

However, should he remain with the 4-4-2 formation he utilised in the 0-0 home draw with Blackpool at the weekend, Frank Nouble, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Paul Taylor will come into contention.

Nouble looks the most likely, having been a useful member of the squad this season – Town have lost none of the 10 games he has started this term, and only one when he has been selected for the starting XI since his arrival at Portman Road in January 2013.

However, just three league and cup goals suggest he won’t provide the cutting-edge Town desire, and assistant Terry Connor admits the striker is a work in progress.

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“He had a lot of potential early in his career, but it’s probably fair to say that Frank has not been coached effectively,” said Connor.

“He is a big, strong, boy who needs to understand how to play as a centre-forward and in a forward position.”

Ebanks-Blake made a brief substitute appearance in Saturday’s draw, but has only just regained full fitness from a hamstring strain, while Taylor has been a peripheral figure under McCarthy.

The £1.5m signing from Peterborough was brought to the club by former manager Paul Jewell and immediately saw his progress hampered by a serious foot injury that kept him out for almost a year.

He has scored just one goal so far for Town and, despite being fully fit for most of the season, has been a fringe player.

Connor said: “Paul has got to do more than the other four strikers on a consistent basis.

“The challenge is there for Paul.”

McCarthy is unlikely to recall loan striker Jack Marriott from Woking, and could utilise the emergency loan market, but will also be looking for a bigger input from his shot-shy midfielders.

Between them, the players in Town’s engine-room have scored just six of the team’s 43 league goals this season.

“As long as we are winning games, it’s a concern, but not a great concern, and the team seems to have its identity,” said Connor.

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