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Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Ipswich Town

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Nottingham Forest and Ipswich Town at the City Ground.

Two sides who have struggled to pick up a victory of late meet at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon as Nottingham Forest play host to Ipswich Town.

The teams saw their winless runs continue in midweek, but the visitors have the upper hand after claiming three points more than their opponents across the opening quarter of the season.

Nottingham Forest

Referee Stuart Attwell sends off Henri Lansbury of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley at City Ground on October 20, 2015 in Nottingham, England.© Getty Images

Since their mini revival in mid-September, when winning two games on the spin to seemingly turn their fortunes around, Forest have failed to win any of their last five.

It has been a poor run of form for the Reds, who head into their latest Championship match sitting just three points adrift of the relegation zone and eight off the playoffs.

Some context is needed, though, when considering the mounting injury and suspension problems boss Dougie Freedman has had to contend with of late, the latest of which will see skipper Henri Lansbury miss out.

The midfielder was shown red against Burnley last time out, with the dismissal proving costly after the Clarets snatched a point in the dying stages and denied Forest a much-needed win in the process.

That was the second home game in succession that Freedman's men have been a man light at the end of the contest, having also had Matt Mills dismissed in a slender defeat at the hands of Hull City prior to the international break.

Despite the setbacks, the Forest manager claims that he has been happy enough with what he has seen in recent outings, with Nelson Oliveira and Tyler Walker coming in for particular praise.

They were the pair tasked with leading the line against Burnley in a 4-4-2 formation, which Freedman is keen to stick with, injuries permitting.

Keeping players fit and avoiding any silly red cards, while also improving on a rather poor goalscoring record, appears to be the only way that Forest are going to get their season back on track - starting at home to Ipswich.

Recent form in Championship: WLDLLD

Ipswich Town

Manager of Ipswich Town Mick McCarthy looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Ipswich Town at Griffin Park on August 8, 2015© Getty Images

In a not too dissimilar manner to their opponents, Ipswich have also been made to sweat over the availability of certain key players of late, which has certainly not helped when it comes to building momentum.

The Tractor Boys were - and still are - among the favourites to match the achievement of last season and claim a top-six spot, with hope only strengthened among supporters following an impressive start.

Ten points from the first 12 on offer have since made way to far more mediocre results, though, including home draws with Huddersfield Town and Bristol City and defeat at Blackburn Rovers.

Mick McCarthy had his misery compounded last time out when seeing his side fall to a 3-0 defeat at Hull City, leaving the Tractor Boys just about in the top half of the second tier.

The experienced boss knows this division well, however, and with five points the difference between Ipswich in 11th and Middlesbrough in sixth, the former Republic of Ireland chief will be confident of a revival over the remaining seven months.

One thing Town certainly need to work on if they are to get things back on track is a failure to find the net in the final stages of games, having scored a league-low one goal in the closing 15 minutes.

Ipswich do certainly boast fighting spirit among their ranks, which their ability to rescue points from losing positions goes to show, yet they must simply stop the rot soon after now going four games without a win.

With no more fixtures against current top-six opposition to come until December now, Ipswich are provided with a platform to kick on and finally show their promotion credentials over the coming weeks.

Recent form in Championship: WDDLDL
Recent form (all competitions): DLDLDL

Team News

David McGoldrick for Ipswich Town on January 10, 2015© Getty Images

Having a bigger squad this season means that injury problems may not have quite the same problem as years gone by for Ipswich, but McCarthy will still be concerned over the full fitness of some players.

Teddy Bishop, Ryan Fraser, Jay Tabb, Luke Varney and Luke Hyam are all out, while Christoph Berra has not trained since damaging his hip against Hull on Tuesday night.

There is some positive news for the Tractor Boys, however, as David McGoldrick, Tommy Oar and Cole Skuse could all be involved at the City Ground.

In terms of the hosts, they will be without suspended duo Lansbury and Mills, though Wales international Jonny Williams can slot in to help out in advanced areas.

Ben Osborne is struggling to be fit in time, meanwhile, so David Vaughan and Jorge Grant remain the only strong midfield options available for Forest to choose from.

Elsewhere, Britt Assombalonga, Chris Cohen, Andy Reid, Matty Fryatt, Robert Tesche, Michael Mancienne and Kyle Ebecilio are all nursing long-term injuries.

Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
De Vries; Lichaj, Wilson, Hobbs, Pinillos; Williams, Mendes, Ward, Vaughan; Walker, Oliveira

Ipswich Town possible starting lineup:
Gerken; Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Coke, Parr, Douglas, Bru; Toure, McGoldrick

Head To Head

Forest have won one of the last six meetings against Ipswich, with that triumph coming in March 2013 when their opponents were reduced to nine men.

The Reds are unbeaten on home soil against Town in their last 10 outings, however, with their last defeat coming some 16 years ago.

Ipswich have kept just one clean sheet in the last 14 fixtures against Forest in all competitions.

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We say: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Ipswich Town

These two sides have been in near identical form since the opening weeks of the season, meaning that a tight game can be expected at the City Ground. In the end a stalemate is the most likely outcome, as the Reds extend their unbeaten home run against Ipswich.

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Michael Mancienne of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Blackpool at City Ground on August 9, 2014
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