Ipswich Town take on Cambridge United, at The Abbey Stadium, in the Papa John's Trophy tonight. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Ipswich Star: Dominic Ball is congratulated for his goal against Arsenal U21sDominic Ball is congratulated for his goal against Arsenal U21s (Image: Archant)


Town are pretty much through to the knockout stages heading into this final group game.

Home wins against Northampton Town (6-0) and Arsenal U21s (2-0) see the Blues top the four-team table with six points and, crucially, a vastly superior goal difference to those trying to catch them.

Cambridge and Arsenal U21s (at Northampton) could both win tonight and join Town on six points, but an eight-goal swing is highly unlikely.

A draw is still required to guarantee top spot though. That would give Town the advantage of a home tie in the last 32.

The first knock-out round is scheduled for the week beginning November 21. For Ipswich, that's after a trip to Exeter and prior to a home clash with Fleetwood.

A reminder that it's a 7pm kick-off tonight and also that, if it does end in a draw, the game will go straight to a penalty shootout, the winners of which get a bonus point.

Ipswich Star: Dominic Ball could start against Port ValeDominic Ball could start against Port Vale


It's been much-changed, but still very senior sides named in the Papa John's Trophy so far this season.

Following a 2-2 home draw against Barnsley, Kieran McKenna changed his entire XI for the game against Northampton.

Following a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, the Blues boss made eight alterations to his team for the visit of Arsenal U21s.

It spoke volumes about the squad's depth that, despite those wholesale rejigs, the least experienced player in the starting XI for those matches was Cameron Humphreys - someone who is arguably close to being classed a first teamer.

McKenna's options, though clearly still very good, have lessened over recent weeks though.

Cameron Burgess, Greg Leigh, Sone Aluko and Gassan Ahadme are all injured (the latter was cup-tied anyway). Dominic Ball, having already picked up two bookings in this competition, is suspended tonight.

Ipswich Star: Richard Keogh celebrates Town's win at MorecambeRichard Keogh celebrates Town's win at Morecambe (Image: Archant)


With League One games set to come thick and fast - Derby County at home on Friday night, followed by Port Vale and Charlton away next week - McKenna won't want to risk many key men in this virtual dead rubber.

He will, however, stop short of putting out a team made up entirely of youth teamers.

“We have to find the right balance," said the Blues boss McKenna, speaking after Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Lincoln City.

"The priority is, of course, Friday night.

"But we have some players who could do with the minutes so they will play.

“And we have to make sure that we put them in a team that’s strong enough to make the game of value to them and of value to us as a squad."

Richard Keogh, Kane Vincent-Young, Kyle Edwards, Tyreece John-Jules and Kayden Jackson were all on the bench at the weekend and could fall into the 'could do with some minutes' category.

It's not impossible that Freddie Ladapo, short on goals at the start of his Town career, and Conor Chaplin, who has made it clear that he is keen to get to a Wembley final in this competition, go again.

Despite the lack of jeopardy in the result, the senior players selected shouldn't be lacking in motivation.

Ipswich Star: Panutche Camara is set to make his Ipswich Town debut.Panutche Camara is set to make his Ipswich Town debut. (Image: Archant)


Panutche Camara is set to make his long-awaited debut tonight.

Town signed the energetic midfielder from Plymouth on transfer deadline knowing he had a groin injury.

The 25-year-old only joined in full contact training for the first time last Friday and, as a result, is highly unlikely to play the full game tonight.


Town's Under-21s were due to play at Millwall yesterday afternoon, but the club called that off with tonight in mind.

Talented midfielder Humphreys, 18, will get another chance to prove that his pathway towards regular first team football should be kept clear.

He'll be joined by a host of his team-mates from John McGreal's youth team.

Gerrard Buabo and Fraser Alexander have already made their senior debuts in this competition this season, while Albie Armin, Tawanda Chirewa, Zanda Siziba and Tommy Hughes could add to their previous experiences in it too.

Others, such as Edwin Agbaje, Max Hudson, Cameron Stewart, Matt Ward and Harley Curtis, may well be involved too.

Ipswich Star: Jack Lankester pictured against Ipswich TownJack Lankester pictured against Ipswich Town (Image: Archant)


Cambridge United lost 2-0 to Arsenal U21s, then beat Northampton 2-0.

Manager Mark Bonner has named mix-and-match line-ups in those games, a handful of key men joined by fringe players and youngsters.

The U's come into this game off the back of four straight league defeats (Derby, Ipswich, Bristol Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday). After tonight they face Port Vale (h), Wycombe (a) and Peterborough (a) in quick succession.

Needing to better Arsenal U21s' result at Northampton to progress, they also plan on fielding a much-changed team tonight.

“It gives them an opportunity to stake a claim,” said assistant manager Gary Waddock.

“We want to win the game, that’s for sure.

“We would like to perform well and for players to give us a headache for the weekend."

Former Town attacker Jack Lankester is one those players likely to be given a chance to shine having stepped off the bench in the last three games.