Bishop’s time to shine, Vincent-Young’s return and Lambert’s ‘hunters’ - talking points ahead of Blackpool visit
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town visit Blackpool this weekend in another vital League One game. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the contest at Bloomfield Road.
Ipswich Town are certainly the hunters now.
Paul Lambert spoke recently about how his side might benefit from no longer being hunted down by the chasing League One pack, during their drop down the standings, with the Blues now finding themselves in ninth place.
That's their lowest position of the season, leaving Lambert's side looking up at the promotion race. They're three points behind Peterborough in sixth and three of the sides above them (Fleetwood, Portsmouth and Coventry) have games in hand.
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It's clear Ipswich need to string victories together if they are to force their way back into the promotion picture and, with a vital 'six-pointer' with Fleetwood coming on Tuesday night, a morale-boosting victory over the Seasiders would do Lambert and his players the world of good.
Strike it rich
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There's one topic dominating the lead-up to this game - who will Lambert chose to play up front at Blackpool?
Kayden Jackson's suspended and James Norwood's out injured after undergoing groin surgery, leaving Will Keane, and an understandably undercooked Freddie Sears, as the only senior striking options at Lambert's disposal.
Playing the two together, fielding a lone striker, using either Teddy Bishop or Alan Judge as a second frontman, promoting a young player or a complete system change are all viable options as Lambert looks to cover a problem area.
There are positives to each of those approaches and an equal (if not greater) number of dangers, but somehow the Town boss will need to cope with losing two players who between them have scored 22 of Ipswich's 45 League One goals. That's 49%.
Searching for a spark
Whichever way Lambert turns in terms of strikers, what's clear is that Ipswich could use an injection of flair and creativity into their side.
The Blues didn't have enough to unpick the lock and find a way past Oxford at the weekend in a tale often told this season, as Lambert's side failed to take their chances when on top and couldn't find a way back into the game having fallen behind.
Bishop has been a bright spark off the bench since his return at the turn of the year but is yet to make a league start. His ability to pick up the ball and make driving runs into opposition territory, breaking the lines, is something Ipswich have lacked throughout this season. Surely his time has arrived.
Then there's Armando Dobra, who himself hasn't played in the league since being sent off at Accrington in October.
Sure, he needs to have earned Lambert's trust again after being given his marching orders a little over half an hour into his league debut, but the youngster offers a natural confidence, a fearless nature, belief in his ability and the talent to create something out of nothing.
A starting spot is unlikely of course, but could he be an added weapon from the Ipswich bench?
A welcome return?
Lambert hinted last week that Kane Vincent-Young might just be ready to go for this weekend's visit to Blackpool after returning to injury following a groin operation.
He only started working outside with the Town fitness staff 10 days ago so a return so soon would be a little bit of a surprise, but the sight of a marauding right-back on the horizon would be a real boost for a side who have lacked something since his injury back in October.
Gwion Edwards and Janoi Donacien have shared the role in his absence and bring different skills to the table, but neither have been able to contribute the full package Vincent-Young offered during his nine-game Ipswich run as he started with a bang following his arrival in the summer.
Is this a good time to play Blackpool?
At one stage the Bloomfield Road club were spoken about as promotion contenders and found themselves firmly in the mix but, despite investment in the transfer market, a poor run saw Simon Grayson fired and David Dunn appointed caretaker.
They've won just two of their last 15 games with those successes coming against the league's bottom two, Bolton and Southend United and, with no managerial appointment likely before the weekend, have struggled significantly.
Town have bigger tests to come in the next few days as Fleetwood and then Coventry visit Portman Road, so Lambert's men could really do with three points in this one.