Scott Malone knows exactly what to expect from Ipswich Town and Mick McCarthy on Boxing Day – having had the former Republic of Ireland boss as his first manager when he was coming through as a youngster at Wolves.
The Fulham full-back says the Whites will face a typically robust challenge from McCarthy’s side at Portman Road and revealed that Slavisa Jokanovic has had his team-mates prepared for the type of long-ball approach that has posed them problems at times this season. Malone told FulhamFCTV in the run-up to the game that he is no doubt as to how the hosts will approach the game:
A physical one. He [McCarthy] was my first manager when I was at Wolves about five or six years ago. Organised, well-drilled, physical. Long balls probably. That’s where we have come unstuck in the last three or four weeks, so if we get that right, we should be okay. The teams that play football, I think we are pretty comfortable and I think we’ve shown that, so getting a tough, physical side that plays long balls in the air, it’s a good test for us. You’d rather have it now than in two or three weeks time, so if we can get it right Monday then it should give us good confidence.
Malone also feels that the trip to Suffolk will provide the perfect chance to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of failing to claim three points against promotion chasing Derby at Craven Cottage last week.
There’s been a lot of them this season. I think it’s the last ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of games. It’s not all the games, but we’ve dropped a lot of points and we’re still four points off the play-off, so we’re there or thereabouts.
The former Cardiff and Millwall full-back feels Fulham can benefit from going under the radar as the pundits have largely ignored their prospects of getting into the play-off positions to date.
I think that’s how you’d want it. The longer you can go still in that group, no-one’s really talking about you, as long as you are hunting the pack rather than being hunted, I think it’s a good scenario. I think the manager has given us a schedule that’s pretty much the same as always, bearing in mind it’s not the same days in and out, but it’s the same sort of thing. Everyone’s confident – and everyone’s up for the challenge.