A trip to Portman Road to face fellow bottom half of the table strugglers Ipswich awaits Zolas men after the International break.
We make the journey down to the Tractor Boys with a fresh squad, having striker Clayton Donaldson fully fit, giving healthy competition in the forward department.
The break arrived on the back of a well executed game plan against Newcastle United which saw Blues record consecutive draws and a clean sheet against the league leaders. Meanwhile, Ipswich, who are winless in seven, fell to a demoralising 3-1 defeat to Cardiff in their last match.
When its reverse was played out in December, on a Tuesday night where Clayton Donaldson saw his last start and goal in a 2-1 win, there was a distinctly different target to set our eyes on towards the game. That night saw us climb to the edge of the play off places, occupying a very respectable 7th place; We won’t need reminding of how drastic the change that followed proved to be.
For Ipswich it seems the season never really got going and are now enduring a dire run of seven winless games. In their whole season, they have been too inconsistent to emulate any former play off push they have had, instead drifting to the same points tally as ourselves on 45. It makes it all the more difficult to predict the outcome of this one as there is no immediate threat of relegation for either but luckily for the home side, a boss like Mick McCarthy will know they are certainly not out of the battle and will have to pick up at least a couple of wins to guarantee safety.
Whilst Blues now have an almost fully fit squad, the same cannot be said for Ipswich who may have to do without top scorer Tom Lawrence (groin) and fellow forward David McGoldrick (knee). Teddy Bishop and Emyr Huws could make appearance in midfield if fully recovered from a groin and hamstring injury respectively. The young Welshman featured under Lee Clark in the 2013-2014 season and impressed during his time at St.Andrews. However, midfielder Luke Hyam will miss the game (ankle) alongside centre half Adam Webster (recent ankle surgery). Meanwhile defender Tommy Smith will be assessed after being delayed on returning from international duty for New Zealand.
Top scorer Lukus Jutkiewicz should be sure to keep his spot up top in the starting eleven, netting for the 12th time in his 25 starts against Cardiff in the last match. Although Clayton Donaldson is now fully fit, it is highly unlikely he’ll be given the nod ahead of a striker currently so prolific in the air. Arsenal loanee Krystian Bielik is now back in contention following an injury to his Achilles. Only defender Michael Morrison remains sidelined but is set to return to training this Monday.
Such is the extent of Ipswich poor returns from Portman road this calendar year, the opportunity to taste victory on the road is set out on the plate for Zolas men. The Tractor boys have recorded one solitary win at home back in the middle of January and will not relish playing in front of an increasingly worried crowd. It would be ideal for Blues to take the initiative early on and not leave finding the back of the net as late as they did in their last away outing.
If our status as a Championship club is to be maintained, the games facing the teams around us are where 3 points need to be sought from.