Developing a ruthless streak, restoring the skipper and another debut - looking ahead to Town’s Bolton trip
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town take on Bolton Wanderers this weekend. Andy Warren looks ahead to the contest.
No room for sympathy
It's so sad to see how tough things are at Bolton right now.
As the club remains in limbo, waiting for a takeover to be completed, players and staff have gone for months without being paid with a stream of senior squad members departing as a result.
Left behind is a squad made up largely of youth players and a smattering of senior performers, all tasked with keeping the club moving at a time when they are dealing with a 12-point deduction following administration. Further points deductions are expected to follow, firstly relating to a cancelled game at the end of last season and potentially due to the fact Tuesday's planned game with Doncaster was called off due to 'player welfare issues'.
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They don't have a full-time manager anymore, either, after Phil Parkinson resigned on Wednesday night after months of holding the fort in the most trying of circumstances.
There has to be sympathy there, certainly for those impacted financially and the supporters of the famous old club, but that sympathy must not extend to the pitch.
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Ipswich Town have their own agenda and, once the first whistle goes, there is no room for sentiment.
This young Bolton side, the youngest in the club's history, have battled to win one point so far this season and were beaten 5-0 by Tranmere in their last game.
On paper this is a mismatch and Ipswich will be expected to do the same as Rovers. Paul Lambert's men need to be ruthless in their bid to build momentum on the back of an unbeaten start in the league.
Teams with real promotion ambitions win games like this.
Taking back the armband
Skipper Luke Chambers was rested on Tuesday night, following a rollercoaster start to the season.
His mistake against Sunderland cost the Blues two points but, just a week later, he netted a last gasp equaliser to earn a point at Peterborough.
The expectation is he will return against Bolton, but will he partner Luke Woolfenden or James Wilson?
Both looked assured during Tuesday's victory over AFC Wimbledon, without being overly tested. Woolfenden has been the most consistent defender during the opening weeks of the campaign but could he be due a rest, given Lambert has stated the need to keep players fresh?
And could that rotation mean rests for other ever-presents, such as Cole Skuse, Flynn Downes or James Norwood?
Anthony Georgiou was a spark off the bench of Tuesday night and must surely now be in contention for a starting spot at Bolton.
The Tottenham loanee was confident, direct and positive on the ball, offering a dimension the Blues were lacking during a lacklustre opening period.
Gwion Edwards, rested on Tuesday night, could also return with a refresh on the flanks likely, regardless of the system Lambert chooses.
Kane Vincent-Young was at Tuesday's game but missed out with a toe injury, which should have cleared up in time for him to play at Bolton, and it's likely Lambert will want his new right-back involved as soon as possible.
Will Keane was the third new recruit of the week, but he's still a little way short of fitness.
He's likely to feature for the Under 23s against Leeds tomorrow afternoon.
Lambert started with a 4-3-3 system on Tuesday night but ended it playing in a 4-4-2 as the Blues came from behind to win.
The first half was flat, in part due to the fact Wimbledon were happy to sit in and soak up pressure and in part due to the fact Ipswich couldn't get anything going. Norwood was isolated up front and the central midfield three was too deep.
So what will Lambert do this weekend?
A return to 4-4-2 from the start will mean Norwood and Kayden Jackson can be paired in attack again, but it's not impossible the Town boss will again favour one up front with support from wide.
For that to work, though, the make-up of the central midfield will surely need to change and a true No.10 deployed. Alan Judge could be that man, with the Irishman impacting the game well off the bench on Tuesday and serving up Norwood's equaliser.
You have to go back 17 years to find the last time Ipswich Town were beaten at Bolton.
The 4-1 loss that day effectively relegated George Burley's side from the Premier League, but they've not lost since, winning two and drawing four of their six games since.
Last season's visit saw Ipswich win 2-1 thanks to Collin Quaner's brace, with only three of the starting XI that day (Myles Kenlock, Cole Skuse and Andre Dozzell) also starting on Tuesday night.