MARK Little has a lot for which to thank Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy, yet the Wanderers wing-back does not have gratitude on his mind as he heads to Portman Road.

Nearly 11 years to the day, McCarthy called a raw 18-year-old off the bench with Wolves a goal up at Leeds United to take the place of Charlie Mulgrew.

Now an older, wiser Little aims to give his old boss a reminder of the fighting qualities which earned him a debut all those years ago.

“It’s a long way to go for a reunion,” he told The Bolton News ahead of the 500-mile round trip. “But I’m up for it 100 per cent. I only got into Mick McCarthy’s team at Wolves because he wanted big, physical players who’d work as hard as they possibly could.

“Mick gave me my first season as a professional at Wolves and I’ll always be grateful to him and his assistant Terry Connor for that. They taught me a lot.

“They are very good coaches and whatever club they are at, you know they’ll be in and around it. They’ve done a good job at Ipswich.

“Every time I come up against the old gaffer it seems to be really tough game, I suppose it’s the nature of this league.

“With all the travel involved it adds an extra challenge but there’s no use moaning.

“We need a result and in this dressing room we’re okay. We’ll come out fighting even though things are going against us at the moment.”

Wing-back is arguably the most physically-demanding position on the park at present but Little feels he is in the right shape to go again at Portman Road, if called upon.

“Playing 90 minutes Saturday-Tuesday is tough, particularly when you’re going down to Ipswich,” he said.

“It can take its toll and the lads are picking up little injuries all over the place. It’ll happen and we’ll sort it out. But it was never going to be anything other than a tough season, it isn’t a surprise, there’s no way around it, we just have got get on with it.”

A quarter of Phil Parkinson’s squad is either missing or doubtful through injury, which means youngster Jack Earing is likely to come into the equation. Checks will be run on full-back Andy Taylor and winger Filipe Morais prior to the game for calf and knee problems, respectively.

Minor knocks – including a neck injury for Reece Burke and a toe injury for Josh Cullen, are not expected to cause a problem for selection.

McCarthy’s Blues have also suffered their fair share of casualties this season and are still without all three of their recognised centre-backs, although captain Luke Chambers is an outside bet to start after returning to training.

Wanderers’ options are considerably more truncated thanks to the now ex-embargo - which has now mercifully been removed after 90 weeks - but Little reckons the club cannot allow itself to wallow in what might have been.

“We’re a squad of players who are through the door, simple as that,” he said. “We can only do the best we can.

“For obvious reasons it’s very difficult to keep up financially with the top boys. But that is no excuse to say we shouldn’t be playing well when we face them or doing the basic things right.

“We’ve stepped up a level and tinier things matter more in this division. It is more about details. Against Sheffield United if the balls drops to the centre-half in League One it probably doesn’t end up in the top corner but players with Championship quality punish that kind of thing.

“A lot of players here, myself included, have got a point to prove. Once we find our feet we’ll be fine.”

Little believes shoots of recovery were evident in midweek in what many regarded as the bets home performance of the season in the league, albeit one which did not yield any points.

“When the goal went in we didn’t let our heads go down, we carried on fighting,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. Our luck will change, the tide will turn, and sooner or later it will be us who are scoring loads of goals and keeping plenty of clean sheets.

“I think the performance, if not the result, was good.

“As long as we keep that attitude we will be fine. And since I have been in this dressing room it’s exactly how it has been.”