The gaffer looks ahead to Town's trip to Lancashire this weekend
Mick McCarthy admits he can see similarities between Saturday's opponents, Preston, and Town during the Play-Off season in 2014/15.
The Blues travel to Deepdale on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield last weekend, and the boss is looking forward to going up against a friend of his in Simon Grayson.
"Simon has been around the block and he's a good manager who seems to get the best out of people so I'm pleased for him but I'll try and spoil it for him on Saturday," he told Ipswich Player HD.
"They're a good side, and like Birmingham under Gary Rowett, they were like us a couple of seasons ago when we were really tough, resolute, played off the front men and got after the ball, and that's Preston are.
"They've got a bit of momentum going, and things are looking up for them.
"We're not that many points behind them, and it will be a tough order to win there, but if we do it's three and who is it that's having a great season?
"The good news is Pits [Brett Pitman] is back training fully now, Didzy [David McGoldrick] has been training, and will be travelling, Bish [Teddy Bishop] too.
"So we're getting there, and getting players back now."
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The Blues have been handed a boost ahead of the trip to Deepdale as Tommy Smith, Teddy Bishop and David McGoldrick have all trained fully, and are closing in on a return to action. Having been out since September, Saturday's clash with Preston will come too soon for Smith, but Bishop and McGoldrick could well be part of the squad that travels. Toumani Diagouraga could make his debut for the Blues, but Adam Webster [ankle] Jonny Williams [shoulder], Myles Kenlock [calf] Luke Hyam and Giles Coke [both knee] remain out.
North End will be without the services of full-back Greg Cunningham, as he sits out the second of a two match ban for picking up 10 yellow cards so far this season. Ben Pearson could return, though, as he has served a similar suspension. Eoin Doyle may well be unavailable, as a loan move to Portsmouth looks to be on the cards, but Simon Grayson will definitely be without John Welsh [calf], Callum Woods and Alex Baptiste [both knee] as they remain longer term absentees.
Where They Stand
Last Time They Met
Grant Ward rounded off a superb first month with the Blues as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over the Lilywhites in August. The midfielder, who had joined from Tottenham, scored his fourth goal in just his third game at Portman Road as he built on his opening day hat-trick against Barnsley. Bartosz Bialkowski had to be alert to keep out an effort from Jermaine Beckford, and Liam Grimshaw came close to a leveller late on, but Town held on to take all three points.
The defender impressed on his Town debut at Huddersfield last weekend as he played just under 70 minutes on the right side of a five-man defence following eight months out of the game. The former MK Dons man came close to scoring with an effort that he dragged just wide of the target, and it appears as if there will be a battle between Spence and Josh Emmanuel for that right wing-back role, so both will need to be on top of their game when selected in order to hold onto their place.
The creative midfielder has brought his impressive form from last season into the new campaign, and has four goals and three assists to his name thus far. The Jamaican scored in the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Portman Road last season, and also bagged in the 2-1 Town victory at Deepdale at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign, so the Blues will need to look out for his goalscoring, and assisting, capabilities.
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