I'll just say it: Leeds must come away from Portman Road on Tuesday with a positive result in order to keep their play-off hopes alive. Ipswich Town are sitting in the final play-off berth and United could close the gap on the Tractor Boys to just 6 points with a victory.
The importance of this game is not lost on either side’s Managers, both teams having rested key players at the weekend.
Things are looking up at Leeds with the Whites enjoying an unbeaten run and recent additions providing much needed options and competition for places. Yet we still cannot get carried away. Ipswich will be a tough encounter and Tuesday night fixtures are not that productive for Leeds. Ipswich are also a bogey side and I will be clutching a four leaf clover whilst rubbing a lucky horse shoe during the 90.
Ipswich Town Manager, Mick McCarthy, admits to being a big fan of Leeds United as a boy. Although his first team was Barnsley, he idolized the Don Revie team of the 60's and 70's and dreamed of playing for them. However, he is now manager of Ipswich Town and the pragmatic Yorkshire man and former Republic of Ireland defender will do his up most to ensure he takes the spoils on Tuesday. McCarthy played at clubs such as Manchester City, Celtic and Lyon, he has also managed in the premiership with Wolves, Sunderland, and internationally with the Republic of Ireland. He is renowned for building dogged and determined sides, possibly in his own image, that may lack flair. Expect a less than glamorous game.
McCarthy’s back room staff include Assistant Manager Terry Connor who also managed Wolves but is better known to Leeds fans as their Number 9 from 1979 - 83. Andy Liddell, the fitness coach, is also from Leeds.
Leeds United has sold out its 1900 ticket allocation for the 400 mile round trip.
Leeds United are now unbeaten in 8 League and cup games, winning 4, drawing 4, scoring 12, and conceding 7. The Tractor Boys have lost 2, won 4, and drawn 2. Ipswich has scored 8 and also conceded 8. It's fair to note the 2 games they have lost have been against the current top two sides in the division, Middlesbrough and Derby County respectively.
Between the two sides there have been 33 games at Portman Road with 15 wins going to Ipswich, 11 to Leeds and 7 draws.
Players to Watch
Ipswich Town's number 9, Daryl Murphy, was the Championship top-scorer last season with 27 goals. He is currently his team’s joint-top-scorer with 7. However, he missed that penalty against Leeds at Elland Road last season, and Leeds fans will be hoping he has left his scoring boots in the dressing room once again.
Bret Pitman has also found the net 7 times for Ipswich since joining them in the summer from Bournemouth. He has scored over 100 leagues goals in his career.
Australian international Tommy Oar will be hoping he has done enough to clinch a role for this fixture having scored for the Tractor Boys in the FA Cup against Portsmouth.
Leeds United at Ipswich Town
Football League Championship
Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Mowatt, Cook, Carayol, Doukara
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Phillips, Murphy, Dallas, Antenucci
Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Fraser, Bru, Sears, Murphy
Subs: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Hyam, M-Niles, Oar, Varney, Pitman
Portman Road, Ipswich
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT
Referee: Frederick Graham
Linesmen: Stuart Butler and Lloyd Wood
Fourth official: Nicholas Kinseley
Tuesday night? Ipswich Away? 1-1.
Leeds United now have competition for positions. Should Bamba start before Bellusci? Should Carayol be in ahead of Byram? What is your preferred lineup ? Please let us know in the comments section below. Sign up is quick and easy and your comments are more than welcome.