The latest installment in our series of team previews sees the spotlight on Mick McCarthy's Tractor Boys
Home ground: Portman Road
Manager: Mick McCarthy
2014/15 league position: 6th
2014/15 top goalscorer: Daryl Murphy (27 in all competitions)
Having seen local-rivals Norwich City secure an immediate return to the Premier League last season, Ipswich Town will be hoping to join them next year as they look to put their play-off semi-final heartache behind them.
The Tractor Boys surprised many to finish in the Championship top six last season, even after a slow start which saw them win just once in the opening month of the campaign.
However, Daryl Murphy’s first goal of the season against Millwall helped secure a 2-0 victory as Mick McCarthy’s side embarked on a run that would see them unbeaten in their next seven games, and lose just once more in 2014.
In a season in which veteran forward Murphy would finish as the Championship’s leading scorer with 27 goals, the 32-year-old could not stop scoring as Ipswich continued to challenge for promotion.
And while strike-partner David McGoldrick struggled with injury and was unable to replicate his goalscoring feats of the previous two campaigns, the January arrival of Freddie Sears from Colchester United provided a welcome boost, with the former West Ham United man proving to be just as prolific in front of goal.
While Ipswich’s form faltered heading into the New Year, their midweek 1-0 victory over Wanderers at Portman Road in March prompted a run which saw them lose just two of their last nine league games of the season to secure a play-off place.
Facing local-rivals Norwich City in the semi-final, having lost both encounters against the Canaries earlier in the season without scoring a goal, Ipswich secured a 1-1 draw at Portman Road in the first leg despite falling behind.
However, a 3-1 defeat at Carrow Road saw Norwich progress to the final, leaving Ipswich to battle in the Championship for at least another season.
Despite losing Tyrone Mings to promoted Bournemouth in a record £8m deal earlier this summer, Brett Pitman and Ryan Fraser came the other way as part of the deal to add further strength to Ipswich’s already impressive attacking options.
And with money to spend, McCarthy will be keen for his side to build on last year as he looks to win promotion to the top-flight for the third time in his managerial career.
Chris Brammer, sports reporter for the Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times, offers his thoughts on the campaign ahead as the Tractor Boys look to bounce back from their play-off semi-final defeat to local rivals Norwich City.
“Mick McCarthy has targeted another season of improvement, following their journey to the Championship play-off semi-finals last term.
"Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen but, his year-on-year improvement at Portman Road (14th, ninth, sixth), suggests Town could be edging nearer to the automatic spots this season.
"The sale of left-back Tyrone Mings to Bournemouth came as a blow, but, with Jonny Parr as an able replacement, several millions burning a hole in Town’s pocket as a result and the additions of Cherries promotion heroes Ryan Fraser (loan) and Brett Pitman (permanent) as part of the deal, that has been softened somewhat.
"Daryl Murphy remains in-demand, following 27 goals last season, with several Championship and Premier League clubs said to be keen, and, at 32, the player and club may consider it good business should a sizable bid come in.
"Town will be boosted by the return of fit-again striker David McGoldrick, while Freddie Sears represented one of the bargains of the seasons in 2014/15, scoring nine goals in 24 games after signing from League One Colchester in January.
"The addition of a box-to-box midfielder would be a real fillip, but Town fans should be optimistic.”
FIXTURES V BOLTON IN 2015/16
Tuesday 3 November 2015 – 7:45pm kick-off at Portman Road
Tuesday 8 March 2016 – 8pm kick-off at Macron Stadium
RESULTS V BOLTON IN 2014/15
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Ipswich Town – 13/12/2014 - (CLICK HERE for highlights)
Ipswich Town 1-0 Bolton Wanderers – 17/3/2015 - (CLICK HERE for highlights)
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