Big Match Preview – Coventry City (A)
As it stands: Coventry 18-7-9-2 (5th, 30pts GD 3) | Ipswich 17-10-5-2 (2nd, 35pts, GD 15) Current form: Coventry LDDWW | Ipswich WDDDW
Last time out: MK Dons 2 v 0 Coventry | Peterborough (5) 1 v 1 (6) Ipswich
Head-to-head: P83|Ipswich W37| Coventry W22| D24
Previous meeting: Coventry 1 v 1 Ipswich, 1st December 2019, FA Cup Round Two
Town head to St Andrews for part two of our trilogy of games with Coventry City. The league fixture on Saturday is sandwiched between two FA Cup meetings between the sides. The first game last Sunday ended in a 1-1 draw. Will Keane seemingly putting Town through to round three in the FA Cup, only for Callum O’Hare to rescue City and force a replay in the 94th minute.
Paul Lambert’s men have the chance to cut the gap to league leaders Wycombe to just two points with Gareth Ainsworth’s men not in action. With Coventry sitting there places and five points behind Town in fifth, a win would put a nice gap between Town and the chasing pack.
Coventry have been in good form of late (in the league), only losing two games all season. Their temporary home at St Andrews has been some what of a fortress too, picking up 23 points out of a possibly 30. However, the telling stat for Mark Robin’s side, who have played a game more than Town, are the nine draws so far this campaign, which is more than any other team in the league. If Coventry can start turning those draws into wins, they will certainly be challenging for promotion come May.
Last Time Out
1 – 1 at Peterborough United
Paul Lambert made wholsale changes for the second round trip to Peterborough in the Leasing.com. There were debuts for Adam Przybek, Alex Henderson and Tommy Smith whilst Barry Cotter made his first Ipswich appearance under Paul Lambert. Jordan Roberts returned to the starting eleven in a competition which he has already found the net on three occasions.
James Norwood added some experience up front with the striker suspended for Saturday’s game at Coventry. Cole Skuse was a surprise inclusion at centre-back.
2 – 0 defeat at MK Dons
Mark Robins made eleven changes from the side that took to the field against Town for the game at MK Dons.
The headline being the returning Jamie Allen and Jodi Jones. Allen has missed much of the season through injury and his return is seen as a big boost for Mark Robins. Jones was included for the first time in over a year since re-rupturing his ACL last season.
Focus on Coventry
Last season: 8th in League One (65 points)
Manager: Mark Robins (March 2017)
Top scorer: Amadou Bakayoko, Matt Godden and Jordy Hiwula – 4
Most Assists: Jordan Shipley – 3
STAR PLAYER: Dominic Hyam (DC)
The Coventry City defender won the Player of the Season and Players Player of the Season award last term. The former Reading academy graduate has developed into a key man at the heart of Coventry’s defence and has been a key influence in the strong defensive record which Mark Robins’s side possesses this term.
Lambert could opt to play Will Norris in between the sticks after his man of the match performance at Coventry last week. Although that would be harsh on Tomas Holy, who secured a point for Town with his superb penalty save in the last league game at home to Wycombe.
Lambert could match up Coventry with a three man defence but the Town boss has suggested he has several injury worries ahead of the game, with the players unknown. If fit, James Wilson, Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden would start with Cole Skuse perhaps dropping back if needed.
Luke Garbutt and Janoi Donacien appear most likely to start in the full back roles with Gwion Edwards another option in the right wing back role.
Cole Skuse, if not needed in defence, will partner Flynn Downes in midfield. If Skuse is required in defence, Andre Dozzell could start alongside Downes for the second weekend running.
Jon Nolan could start ahead of the two holding midfielders or could be another alternative in the deeper role, which would then allow Alan Judge to start in the number ten role.
Will Keane, who scored against Coventry last week, will start alongside Kayden Jackson in the absence of James Norwood through suspension.
For Coventry, last week’s goalscorer Callum O’Hare could be handed a start in the number 10 role behind Maxime Biamou and Amadou Bakayoko. Alternatively, Jordan Shipley and Zain Westbrooke are both pushing for starts in Robins’ favoured 3-4-1-2 system.
City were dealt a major boost during their midweek defeat at MK Dons in the Leasing.com as Jamie Allen and Jordi Jones were named in the squad. Allen has been missed for much of the season, while Jones returned to action after just over a year on the sidelines.
Robins has already confirmed that another game in quick succession would be too much for pair with perhaps the final part of the trilogy on Tuesday night more of a realistic target.
Striker Matty Godden is out with a groin problem, while Wesley Jobello, Dan Bartlett and Reise Allassani are all long term absentees.
Paul Lambert has been speaking about the lengthy injury list which he currenly has, in particular at the heart of the defence.
Cole Skuse started the midweek game at Peterborough in the centre-back position, but was withdrawn at half-time with Lambert telling the Official website it was just a precaution: “We are hoping Cole will be okay… He got a kick on the hip and taking him off was precautionary.
“We have got other injuries though. They are mounting up now. Some are certainly doubtful and struggling for tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Speaking ahead of the game at St Andrews, and playing Coventry again, Lambert said: “It’s not great when you play somebody three times in 10 days. It’s not great, but we try and know as much as we can before we play them.
“They’re a good side and a good football side. It’s a strange environment because it’s not their ground and we have to go back up there again, and then we’ve got them on Tuesday again.
“Hopefully it’ll be another good game and hopefully we get one step further.”
Coventry boss Mark Robins is looking forward to another tussle with Town on Saturday but has said that whatever the outcome it won’t be defying the season.
“It’s the biggest game of the week that’s for sure, it’s the biggest game since last week and we’ll look forward to it the same as any other game.
“I think we’re in a good position, we’re in decent shape and it will be something- it won’t define the season- regardless of which way it goes we’ll just move in to the next one.
“Ultimately it’s a good game and a brilliant test.”
Man in the Middle
Saturday’s referee is Darren Drysdale, who has shown 76 yellow cards and two red in 21 games so far this season. His last Town game was on Boxing Day back in 2015 when Town beat QPR 2-1 in which he booked Tommy Oar.