Burton opener offers wounded Town a chance to set their own tone... but there are still plenty of questions to answer
- Credit: Archant
As Ipswich Town head to Burton to begin life in League One, ANDY WARREN looks at the questions heading into the game at the Pirelli Stadium.
Setting the tone
So here we are, another new dawn for Ipswich Town.
Competing in the third tier of English football was not a dawn anybody hoped to see, but that's the reality of where the sun rises on the new season for the Blues.
An opening-day game at Burton is the first of a tough run of games which sees Paul Lambert's side start against a battle-hardened Brewers side, powerhouse Sunderland, last season's third tier champions (Luton in the cup) and perennial contenders Peterborough.
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While the start could have been kinder, it offers the Blues a real chance to set their own tone.
Captain Luke Chambers said it best this week: "For too long we've worried about other teams at Ipswich. We need to try and get back to people worrying about us. And I think they will this year. I really do."
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Just five games were won during a disastrous last campaign and that mentality needs to change.
Just as losing became a habit last season, winning can this time around. Ipswich Town won't win every game they play this season - they may well not win at Burton - but it's the way they go about their business in the early weeks of the season which could set the tone.
Play on the front foot, impose yourself on the opposition and relish being among the favourites for promotion.
It will not be easy, there may be early bumps in the road, but if Ipswich Town embrace their position and set the tone, who knows what can follow.
System of the Town
While there have been a few experiments during pre-season, Lambert has opted for a 4-2-3-1 system for much of the summer.
And that's what you would expect the Town boss to go with this weekend, or at least a slight variant of it.
The system gives flexibility in midfield, with the most advanced of the central three (Alan Judge) charged with supporting the lone striker (James Norwood) or dropping in to secure a more solid base.
Norwood and Kayden Jackson were paired in attack to great effect for spells of pre-season, with each scoring twice during a 30-minute spell at Colchester. There is certainly a clamour from the stands for two-up-front.
But if Norwood is given adequate support from Judge and the two wingers (something the Ipswich strikers last season simply didn't get) then it's a system that can be profitable.
It's a very similar system to the one used by Tranmere last season, from which Norwood of course scored 32 goals.
Will the wounded return?
Whichever system the Blues go with, injuries will play a major part in Lambert's team selection this weekend.
In addition to Chambers' suspension, Gwion Edwards (groin), Jon Nolan (calf), Jack Lankester (back), Teddy Bishop (knee), Tristan Nydam (ankle), Jordan Roberts (unspecified knock), Freddie Sears (knee), Toto Nsiala (hamstring) and Myles Kenlock (illness) all missed the final warm-up game at Cambridge.
Kenlock is likely to return, as is Roberts, but the other seven are likely to miss out and you could argue the majority would be starters if fit.
Their absence will open the door to others, such as Danny Rowe and Luke Garbutt who are likely to start on the wings. It's up to them to stake a claim and keep hold of the shirt.
Throw him straight in?
The Blues are set to complete a deal for trialist James Wilson in time for tomorrow's game, with the former Lincoln man having impressed enough while training with the Blues since their return from Germany.
He's not been overly tested in his three pre-season games in a defensive sense but has looked solid enough and is comfortable on the ball. Lambert must have seen enough on the training ground to favour his signing over fellow trialist Jon Guthrie.
He looks likely to start tomorrow, most likely alongside Luke Woolfenden, with his signing providing valuable cover given Luke Chambers is suspended and Toto Nsiala is out for another month with a hamstring injury.
The skipper's return against Sunderland in Town's home opener next week will mean either Woolfenden or Wilson dropping out of the side, with whoever's left standing then having a month to prove themselves ahead of Nsiala's comeback.
New signing Will Norris is likely to start on the bench following his loan arrival from Wolves, given Tomas Holy has played throughout pre-season, but the 25-year-old has moved to Portman Road to play games and will certainly put pressure on the Czech as the season goes on.
Is Flynn in?
Flynn Downes became the talking point of an otherwise forgettable pre-season finale at Cambridge, with his violent headbutt earning him a red card in the final minutes.
He's set to be available this weekend given the incident happened in a friendly, but it remains to be seen how Lambert handles the youngster following the dismissal.
Downes plays on the edge and it's one of his major strengths, but it can be a weakness too given he is not always in full control once the red mist descends.
The youngster was substituted to prevent a red card at Accrington in January, with Lambert opting not to start the 20-year-old in the next two games. It's a side of his game he needs to curb.
But he was the best player on the pitch prior to the incident at the Abbey Stadium, so perhaps the best way for him to put it behind him and learn is to be thrown into the heat of battle right away.
He figures to be an important player for the Blues this season.