Mick McCarthy has welcomed the Blue Army’s aspirations of automatic promotion after Town’s impressive start to the Sky Bet Championship season.
Blues travel to Preston this weekend top of the table but the Town boss insists his side will be keeping their feet firmly on the ground, with the campaign’s fortunes likely to go to the wire again.
“Expectations don’t bother me one way or another,” Mick told Ipswich Player HD.
“We want to get automatically promoted. It is better they’re talking about that than saying we’re going to get relegated but realistically we’ve only had three games.
“Look at this week’s results; it’s going to go right to the very end.
“We’ve started well but there are no certainties. We’re going to have to play as well as we have done in the first three League games over the next 43, keep fit and carry a bit of luck to do well this year.”
Mick expects to be in for a tough game at Deepdale against a team that has yet to concede a goal this season and he is convinced Preston will be looking at far more than just staying up this year after being promoted via the Play-Offs in May.
“They will certainly go beyond survival this season,” he added. “They are hard to break down, and they’re playing 3-5-2, almost five at the back at times, so they’re making it hard for teams.
“They have defended very, very well so far, but my view on that always is that it’s got to crack at some stage. They’re not going to go a full season without conceding a goal, are they? So why not Saturday?”
Ryan Fraser will be available for selection for the trip to Deepdale on Saturday. The winger came off midway through the first-half against Sheffield Wednesday with a knee injury but Mick has confirmed he should be OK to play. Daryl Murphy, however, is a doubt after he was replaced at half-time in the same game with a tight calf. Jonathan Parr (thigh) is also doubtful while Teddy Bishop (hamstring), Kevin Bru (hamstring) and Luke Hyam (knee) are sidelined.
Jordan Hugill continues to miss out for North End as he serves a three match ban after he was sent-off against MK Dons last week. They will also be without striker Jermaine Beckford, with the striker yet to play in the Sky Bet Championship this season through injury.
Where they stand
Town – 1st
Preston – 7th
Last time they met
A Joe Garner hat-trick sent Town spiralling out of the FA Cup in the third round at Deepdale in January 2014. Frank Nouble opened the scoring just before the hour mark for Blues but Garner grabbed two goals in 45 seconds to put his side in front. David McGoldrick levelled with just under a quarter of an hour left but Garner sent his side into the fourth round with a left-footed drive two minutes from time.
The 17-year-old Arsenal loanee has caught the eye after several impressive performances so far this season. Ainsley set up the second goal in Tuesday’s victory over Burnley at Portman Road and also picked up the Man of the Match award.
North End’s target man scored 26 times in League One last year and propelled his side towards Play-Off success. He didn’t manage to score in the final, with strike partner Beckford grabbing a hat-trick at Wembley, but he was certainly the driving force in their season, picking up the League One Player of the Year.
Sky Bet Odds
Having yet to concede a goal this season, and being the home side, Preston edge out in front as favourites for this clash and Sky Bet
have them at 7/5 to win the game, and Town at 2/1. The draw is available at 11/5. Blues’ striker Freddie Sears has scored two goals in his last two games and is 13/2 to break the deadlock.
Referee: Mark Brown
Assistant referees: Richard Wrigglesworth & Glen Hart
Fourth official: Mark Haywood
Live commentary of the game is available on Ipswich Player HD from 3.00pm, with live text updates coming via the Ipswich Wall. Team news will be announced first via our official social media channels. Subscribers to Ipswich Player HD will be able to watch post-match reaction Saturday evening and highlights of the game over the weekend.