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Opposition Scouting Report: Ipswich Town struggling to regain top six form ahead of Huddersfield visit

Mick McCarthy's side have lost five of their last six but still harbour promotion ambitions

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy gestures on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match at Portman Road, Ipswich.

Ipswich Town travel to Huddersfield looking to regain the form that had fans dreaming of a path to the Premier League.

A startling run of just two losses in 14 games through November, December and the first half of January has been halted in rather dramatic style, and the Tractor Boys have now lost five of their last six in all competitions - including an FA Cup replay against League Two outfit Portsmouth.

With other teams around them putting winning sequences together, Ipswich's promotion push has stuttered and the club have fallen to 10th in the league.

Manager Mick McCarthy will be desperate to rekindle top six ambitions with a victory, but will be mindful that the treatment room remains heavily populated.

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Deprived of a string of influential figures and creative influences, Ipswich have been without David McGoldrick, Ryan Fraser, Cole Skuse, Giles Coke and Teddy Bishop, while Luke Hyam and Jonathan Douglas only returned to the line-up on Tuesday night.

McCarthy is set to give an update later this week and will be hoping the injury situation is beginning to ease.

History certainly favours his side - Ipswich have lost just one of their last eight meetings with Town, and although that came as recently as the last encounter at the John Smith's Stadium last April, Town haven't won back to back home games with Ipswich since December 1996.

The two sides played out a goalless draw at Portman Road earlier this term.

Ipswich Town v Huddersfield Town: Town's Emyr Huws fires in a shot.
Ipswich Town v Huddersfield Town: Town's Emyr Huws fires in a shot.

Back in the present, and nine points separate Ipswich in 10th from Town in 16th. In what is becoming a familiar refrain this season, Town have outscored their higher-placed opponents, netting 44 times to Ipswich's 40 Championship goals.

Town have achieved their higher total with fewer shots on goal, so Jed Steer won't expect to be a innocent bystander come Saturday.

However, it's little surprise to see the promotion hopefuls ahead in the defence column - 40 goals conceded and nine clean sheets in the league this season (Town have conceded 45 times and recorded eight shutouts).

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Saturday's visitors are also stronger in the tackle and in the duels column, particularly in aerial duels, based on the stats from 2015/16 to date.

Ipswich have seen great success in attacking down the wings, emphasised by the form of Freddie Sears, who plays on the right of the leading attacking triumvirate. With six goals and seven assists to his name, Sears is top of the charts when it comes to providing for his teammates while he's only behind Daryl Murphy and Brett Pitman in the top scorers column.

IPSWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Freddie Sears of Ipswich Town celebrates

James Husband, likely to start for Town at left back, will be anticipating a busy day.

However, the Middlesbrough loanee and his fellow defenders will have to be alert to the set piece - seven out of Ipswich's 40 goals have come via that method, close to one in five of all their league strikes this term.

Favouring short, quick passes, the Tractor Boys have averaged 49% possession on their travels so far this season, but have been traditionally weak at defending the counter attack.

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It should make for a fascinating tactical match-up come Saturday afternoon.

While Town have their sights set on extending an unbeaten run and moving to within touching distance of the top half, Ipswich haven't yet given up on the promotion dream but know they have to start winning, and soon, to stave off their rivals.

All eyes on the John Smith's Stadium come Saturday to see who manages to end February on a high note.


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