'Relax with a beer,' McCarthy tells Ipswich squad

By Aidan Fitzmaurice

MICK McCarthy has told his "knackered" Ipswich Town players to have a rest and enjoy a weekend off after they missed the chance to go top of the Championship table.

Ireland striker Daryl Murphy struck to claim his 18th league goal of the season last night but Ipswich went down 3-2 away to Brighton, a missed opportunity for McCarthy's side who remain in joint second. Due to their FA Cup exit, Ipswich have no game this weekend and McCarthy will allow his players some much-needed time off.

"Maybe one or two of them are knackered. Murph's played every minute of every game, just about. Noel Hunt's come in having not played a lot of football. One or two have missed out through injury and illness," McCarthy said after last night's defeat to Brighton, where boss Chris Hughton handed a debut to new signing Leon Best.

"They'll all be off until Monday now. They'll have a break, chill out with their families, have a beer with their mates - I'm not bothered. They've worked exceptionally hard and now they get a break before preparing for the Wigan game.

"I'm not making excuses, but it only takes your players to be down a couple of per cent and their players to be up a couple of per cent - because they're playing us - and it makes it a difficult evening. I don't think the chance to go top had anything to do with it though. The lads were really focussed," added McCarthy.

In last night's other Championship game, Nottingham Forest lost for the fifth time in six games with a 3-2 loss away to Fulham.

Meanwhile, Ireland U21 cap Frankie Sutherland hopes to progress at QPR after he ended his loan spell with AFC Wimbledon.

"When you go down to the lower leagues you realise how lucky you are to be at a club like QPR, with good facilities and fantastic staff looking after you. I really want to push on this year and make it a good one," said the midfielder, who played 11 times for the Dons on loan.