The weight of expectation, mixing and matching and facing the man ‘Town should have signed’ - Ipswich face Crewe
PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 October 2020
Ipswich Town take on Crewe Alexandra at Portman Road this afternoon. Andy Warren looks ahead to the game.
Same test, different day
Town got back to winning ways on Tuesday night with victory over Gillingham at Portman Road which, though it ultimately needed a late goal to secure the three points, was a game they were always expected to win.
That’s the way it’s been for Town in League One. With a few notable exceptions, Paul Lambert’s men have largely been able to beat sides mid-table and lower but struggled with opponents inside the top 10.
So there will be the same expectation of victory when a Crewe side, newly-promoted from League Two and currently sitting 15th, come to Portman Road.
It won’t be easy – the Railwaymen have stood their ground so far in the third tier and have taken the notable scalps of Wigan and Doncaster of late, but they’re a team Ipswich must surely be expecting a home victory against if they truly covet promotion.
But, at the same time, to expect an easy ride would be disrespectful to their opponents and manager Lambert has always stressed he will never take an opponent lightly.
“I’ve never known an easy game and every game is hard in this division,” he said. “We give them every respect they deserve but it’s a hard game. They play good football and are a good team so this will be a tough game for us.”
The thousands watching at home in front of TVs and laptops will be expecting three points, though, while many will already have an eye on Tuesday’s visit to Sunderland as the Blues continue their bid to right the wrongs of last season.
It’s likely Lambert will largely have the same pool of players to select from this afternoon as he looks to back up Tuesday’s win.
The only injury victim who could feasibly return to the starting XI is Alan Judge, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and will be a late call. If he’s good to go, he’s more likely to be on the bench.
One welcome returnee to the bench could be striker Kayden Jackson, who has trained this week following a 10-day isolation with coronavirus. He’s feeling much better but is highly unlikely to start, with a cameo as a substitute the most likely source of action for the pacey forward.
Emyr Huws could come into the equation to potentially add a little more solidity to the Ipswich midfield with Jack Lankester, who started as a No.10 on Tuesday, potentially moving to the right wing if Lambert decides to make a change there.
Keanan Bennetts is still pushing for a first start and, if he does play, could facilitate a move for Gwion Edwards to his favoured left flank.
Mix and match
Jackson’s return is a welcome one but patience will be required. As well as his coronavirus absence, he’s also missed a lot of football with a groin injury which has restricted him to just half-an-hour of league football.
But what his return does do is give Lambert some real options.
Oli Hawkins’ displays have been admirable. His hold-up play, ability to bring others into the action and willingness to run and occupy defences sometimes goes under the radar. The fact he is yet to score probably doesn’t help in that regard.
He gives defenders a hard time meaning, should Jackson be introduced late in this game, the former Accrington man’s searing pace may just be a weapon they aren’t equipped to handle following the rough and tumble of their earlier battle with the 6ft 5in striker.
The current Town formation doesn’t allow the two to play as a central pair, but should they ever be on the pitch at the same time there’s every reason to believe they would link up well.
It’s not just the Ipswich Town strikers that are worth discussing.
Crewe’s side is a young one. Eight of their starting XI against Lincoln on Tuesday night were 24 or under, but there is a smattering experience with much of it coming in forward areas.
Manager David Artell could call on any of Mikael Mandron, Offrande Zanzala or 36-year-old Chris Porter this weekend, who would offer a real test to the central defensive pairing of Luke Woolfenden and Mark McGuinness.
The youngsters did well against Gillingham on Tuesday night and offered an upgrade when it comes to Town’s ability to keep the ball at the back and play from defence.
Lambert was at pains to stress they’re far from the finished article, though, while admitting they will need to prove they are able to match the physical strengths of James Wilson and Toto Nsiala after replacing the pair.
They started well against Gills’ frontmen Dominic Samuel and John Akinde and can push their case once again in this one.
Wudda, Shudda, Cudda
It’s now more than a year since Kane Vincent-Young turned out for Ipswich Town.
It all started so well, too. He was dynamic, quick, composed and direct, giving Ipswich a new dimension from right-back following a £500,000 move from Colchester.
He was an instant hit and his signing looked like a masterstroke – though there was one man who made it very clear Ipswich had signed the wrong player.
Artell proclaimed his right-back, Perry Ng, as League Two’s best in that position, claiming whoever decided Ipswich should push the button on a move for Vincent-Young ‘should be handed their p45’.
Well, all at Ipswich will get a good look at Ng this afternoon at a time when groin and then Achilles injuries have sadly made Vincent-Young something of an afterthought.
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