Mick McCarthy thinks Ipswich are almost safe after going nine points clear of the drop zone after a narrow 2-1 win over Burton at the weekend.

However, he has warned that he and his players face the ‘hardest game on Monday’ when Newcastle visit Portman Road.

Ipswich are unbeaten at Portman Road since January and indeed have only lost two of their last 13 matches home and away.

Of the last six home games, five have been drawn and only three goals conceded in the last seven and a half hours of football at home.

In fact nobody in the bottom half of the Championship has conceded less than Ipswich’s 22 goals at home, the same figure Newcastle have leaked at St James Park.

However, only two clubs outside the relegation zone have scored less (home and away) than Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich’s 45 goals.

Daryl Murphy scored 50 goals in the last three seasons for Ipswich and McCarthy says that the home fans should give him a warm welcome, as the striker ‘was brilliant for us and we have missed him’.

It must be frustrating for the Ipswich boss when he sees his side desperate for goals and yet Daryl Murphy has started only five league games for Newcastle.

Though Mick McCarthy says that doesn’t alter the fact that the forward is still a ‘damned good Championship player’ and has been a game changer for Newcastle this season, when getting the opportunity.

Mick McCarthy:

“Of course he does (deserve a warm welcome back), Daryl Murphy was brilliant for us and we have missed him, no doubt about that.

“We have missed his goals, missed his power, missed his pace, missed his ability up front to stick the ball for us.

“We have tried a number of things to replace Daryl Murphy, it hasn’t worked.

“He’s not played on a regular basis up there but when he came on in a game he actually changed the game for them. He’s played more now and he’s a damned good Championship player.

“In August it was very difficult to do that (replace Murphy) and in January it just didn’t work out, trying to sign players didn’t work out and that was unfortunate for us.

“I hope that’s us safe (after beating Burton and going nine points clear of relegation zone). I think it probably is but I’m not going to say that we definitely are.

“It’s going to be very hard for the clubs below us to catch us. We have leap-frogged Wolves and QPR now and the teams below us have all got to play each other.

“I’ve been studying the table and the fixtures and with Blackburn and Wigan both winning, that added to the pressure going into the game but we dealt with it well.

“I said to the players that we have the hardest game on Monday, against Newcastle, so get the job done tonight and they have responded to that.

“We had better chances, had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside in the first-half  and we deserved to win. It’s a big three points for us and now we can look forward to a great game against Newcastle on Monday.”