The news that David McGoldrick will be injured until the last week of the season was a big disappointment for anyone associated with Ipswich Town.
The 26-year-old striker has netted 16 goals for the Tractor Boys so far this season and he has stood out as the best forward in the squad.
Statistics only tell you part of the reason why McGoldrick is so important for Ipswich though as he does more for the team than just score goals. The former Nottingham Forest striker gets involved in the build up play, works hard, tracks back and uses his movement to pull defenders out of position.
Whilst the Tractor Boys do have some different striking options, I do not believe that they have anyone capable of having as much influence on the pitch as McGoldrick.
Daryl Murphy is a player that I rate highly and I believe he is taken slightly for granted.
The Irishman works incredibly hard, provides a great physical presence in all areas of the pitch and is just as important for the team defensively as he is going forward. When Murphy is not playing for Ipswich they are not as defensively solid, cannot threaten as much from set pieces and have to adjust their style of play. That said, he does not fill the same role as McGoldrick and Ipswich need someone else to compliment Murphy upfront from now on.
I believe that Paul Taylor is similar to Ipswich’s injured striker in terms of his technical ability, agility and flair so he could potentially be a solid replacement.
The problem with the former Peterborough man is that he is not convincing enough as a proper striker and his goal scoring record is not consistent enough to justify putting him in that role. Taylor certainly gets the fans exited at times by running at defenders and making quick turns on the ball, but the main problem is that he doesn’t actually make anything happen on a consistent basis.
Frank Nouble is certainly a different type of player to Taylor but similarly he also has problems with consistency.
Nouble’s work rate is fantastic and it is great to see him chasing after every lost cause but much like Taylor you are left asking yourself where is the end result? I personally think that both players have a role to play at the club, it is just unfortunate that they cannot fill the role that McGoldrick has left.
With Jack Marriott out on loan that only leaves Ipswich with one other striker which is Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. The former Plymouth man is desperately trying to get as many minutes under his belt as possible in order to return to match fitness after injury problems interrupted his debut. Personally I believe that Ebanks-Blake is very similar to McGoldrick in terms of playing style and is probably the teams best bet in terms of a replacement.
There is no way of telling how well Ebanks-Blake has recovered from all of the injury problems he has had though. If he can replicate the form he previously had at Championship level then Ipswich will not be damaged as much by McGoldricks injury. Although it does seem unlikely that this will be the case and he will need time to get back to his best after such a long lay off.
It appears very likely that the injury to McGoldrick will have a large impact on Ipswich’s chances of making the play-offs but it is important to remember that if the Tractor Boys do make the top six then their star striker will have recovered by then.