'Who says Cole Skuse is not an automatic choice?' - Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has a midfield selection headache ahead of East Anglian derby at Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 15:23 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:52 23 February 2017

Cole Skuse in action for Ipswich Town.   Picture: Steve Waller   www.stephenwaller.com

Cole Skuse in action for Ipswich Town. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has got a welcome selection headache ahead of Sunday's East Anglian derby against bitter rivals Norwich City, at Carrow Road (12pm ko, Sky Sports).

Captain Luke Chambers, midfielder Toumani Diagouraga (both ill) and striker Freddie Sears (groin) have all missed training this week, but the Blues boss says he is ‘hopeful and pretty certain they’ll all be OK’.

Leeds loanee Diagouraga comes back into contention having been ineligible to face his parent club last weekend, but it’s hard to see who he will dislodge out of midfield trio Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws and Grant Ward.

“They’ve all played well,” admitted McCarthy. “Skusey’s been ever-present since walking through the door, Emyr Huws, along with Toums (Diagouraga), has been outstanding, and one of the standout performers recently has been Wardy having gone and played in the centre. It’s a tough one.”

Asked if this was the first time that Skuse wasn’t necessarily seen as an automatic pick, McCarthy replied: “Who says he’s not an automatic choice? He’s got serious competition, but that still doesn’t mean he’s not an automatic choice. I can’t say he’s ever let his guard down. It’s still a difficult decision though.”

McCarthy has similar options at right wing-back with Jordan Spence and Josh Emmanuel both having impressed.

“Isn’t it lovely?” added the Blues boss. “It’s only a month ago when you (the media) were asking me the names of the subs on the bench as you didn’t know them. It’s better for me and it’s better for the team and better for the club that we’ve now got that level of players competing to play.

“The lads are off tomorrow and I’ll name my team on Saturday.”

Ipswich-born midfielder Luke Hyam will travel with the squad for the first time since returning from a long-term knee injury, having played his second Under-23s match as they won 3-0 at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Winger Danny Rowe, a £100k recruit from non-league Macclesfield in January, scored in that game and will also be in the squad.

Steven Taylor (hamstring), Adam Webster (ankle), Dominic Samuel (broken toe) and Giles Coke (knee) all remain sidelined.

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