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Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna sees parallels between Barnsley victory and trip to Coventry City tomorrow in Sky Bet Championship





Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna sees parallels with the Blues’ emphatic 3-0 victory at Barnsley last season and tomorrow’s clash with Coventry City (8pm) at the CBS Arena in the Sky Bet Championship.

Town head to the ninth-placed Sky Blues off the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw at play-off-chasing Hull City on Saturday and know that a win would be a giant step towards playing Premier League football next season.

The Blues sit outside of the automatic-promotion places on goal difference but have a game in hand on second-placed Leeds United, ahead of the final match of the season this weekend which will see Town host all-but-relegated Huddersfield Town (12.30pm).

Kieran McKenna is expecting Coventry City to want to finish their season on a high. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kieran McKenna is expecting Coventry City to want to finish their season on a high. Picture: Barry Goodwin

With their destiny in their own hands, McKenna’s side know what it’s like to make an important away trip with the pressure mounting, as goals from Nathan Broadhead, George Hirst and Conor Chaplin sealed an incredibly crucial three points this time last season at Oakwell – which moved second-placed Town four points clear of Sheffield Wednesday, in third, with two matches of the campaign remaining.

Asked if there are parallels between the two games, the Town boss, speaking after Saturday’s draw in East Yorkshire, said: “There are lots of parallels you can take, to be honest, in the season, in the points, in the two away games before we go back home, all of those things.

“The reality is that the games are harder. Last year was hard but these games are harder, so I’m not sure we’re going to have too many 3-0s or 6-0s but the group have been through this experience, so many of them with a big three-game week, to try and achieve a big goal and they’ve handled it really well before and I think they’re handling it really well at the moment.

George Hirst made his first appearance for Town since Boxing Day against Hull City on Saturday. Picture: Barry Goodwin
George Hirst made his first appearance for Town since Boxing Day against Hull City on Saturday. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“It doesn’t mean that the games are going to be easier or that we’re going to walk any games but it means we’ll try and keep performing as we have been and as we want to and I don’t think we were far away from that on Friday night.”

Asked whether the experience of last year has helped his side, McKenna said: “I think it has. I can say from what I see, I feel around the group, from what I’m seeing on the pitch, I don’t see us playing with tension, which is really important at this stage of the season. I see us playing with bravery, with confidence, with great intensity still and that’s really important.

“We’re going to get the points that we get at the end of the season, we’ve already got 90, we can’t worry about any other teams, we can just, as we said we would do, go absolutely all in for 46 games and see where we’re at in the end.”

Mark Robins’ side head into tomorrow’s game with one win in their last seven matches in all competitions and will be without centre-back Liam Kitching, after he was shown a straight red card in their 0-0 draw away at Blackburn on Saturday.

Midfielders Ben Sheaf (muscle injury) and Victor Torp (stomach strain) missed the trip to Ewood Park at the weekend to add to Coventry’s personnel woes.

“Whether they make changes or not, will they have players back in who have missed the last couple, it can’t come into our thought process too much to spend too much energy on that,” said McKenna.

“We know they’re a very good side, we’ll know they’ll be motivated to finish off the season on a high at home against a team who are competing at the top end of the division and we certainly know that they’re going to try and make it hard for us.”