Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy is backing his players to get their promotion bid back on track following a poor run of results.
The Tractor Boys dropped to fifth in the standings after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Rotherham United.
McCarthy’s men have won just one out of their last five Championship fixtures and trail league leaders Bournemouth by six points. With promotion rivals Bournemouth, Derby, Middlesbrough, Brentford, Watford and Norwich all winning at the weekend, the pressure is on Ipswich to arrest mid-season slump in form.
Barnsley-born McCarthy, who is chasing a third promotion to the Premier League, said: “There are some good teams in and around us and I’ve got no doubt we’ll be scrapping right to the end of the last game to make sure we’re in with a shout at promotion.”
After slipping up at the New York Stadium, McCarthy has indicated he may make personnel changes to his starting line-up against the Owls. Noel Hunt, Stephen Hunt and Freddie Sears are all in contention for first-team recalls.
He said: “Well, we’re not changing bodies around, that’s for sure. We won’t bring shed loads of players in and change it all about. I don’t see any reason for that because the players have been great.
“They will have a dip. I might have to look at freshening it up with the players I’ve got. We’ll just keep going.”
Ipswich boast one of the best home records in the division. Nine of their 14 league wins have come in their own backyard. Only fellow promotion contenders Norwich City and Derby County have beaten them on their own turf.
Owls boss Stuart Gray said: “Ipswich are a very strong and physical side. They play to their strengths.
“They’ve got Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick up front who are a good combination.
“Mick [McCarthy] has got an honest bunch of pros who work their socks off and give 100 per cent. They grind out results.
“We don’t fear anyone on our travels but we have to turn up. We have to start winning.”
One of Ipswich’s key players in their top-six challenge has been Murphy. The striker, who had a one-month loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday during the 2005/06 season, is the division’s leading marksman, having found the back of the net 18 times. However, the goals have dried up for the Irishman in recent matches. Murphy has registered just once in six starts this year.
He returned to action against Rotherham, having sat-out the goalless draw at home to Wigan Athletic due to a calf strain. Murphy missed a couple of good chances early on versus the Millers.
“He’s come back after his time away though and maybe that dulls the senses slightly,” admitted McCarthy.
Blackpool, meanwhile, are in dialogue with Wednesday regarding the possibility of taking out-of-favour striker Gary Madine on loan.
Gray admitted: “I am willing to let Gary [Madine] go on loan but a deal has not been done yet.”