It's about time for Ipswich Town to secure another 'statement' win - talking points ahead of Coventry clash
PUBLISHED: 06:00 07 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:09 07 December 2019
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Ipswich Town are in action against Coventry City this afternoon. Andy Warren looks at the big talking points heading into the game
The case of the defence
Paul Lambert is dealing with a defensive headache as Ipswich prepare to return to Coventry (well, Birmingham).
At least one of Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden appear to be missing for this game, with Lambert understandably cryptic with his answers when revealing the concerns during his pre-match press conference.
Toto Nsiala, on the fringes of the league side, is also out with a minor hamstring problem which is perhaps why Lambert opted to go for an out-of-position Cole Skuse (more on him in a bit) and untried teenager Alex Henderson at Peterborough on Wednesday night.
We've see this season that any combination of Chambers, Woolfenden or Wilson can be successful in League One, so panic shouldn't really set in, but when you factor in Kane Vincent-Young's unavailability following groin surgery things are starting to look a little thin.
Only one man has featured in all 17 of Ipswich's League One games this season. That man, ladies and gentleman, is Cole Skuse.
But there is the real possibility the veteran midfielder could miss out this weekend as he struggles with a hip injury suffered which forced him off at the break at Peterborough.
He's Mr Consistent in the middle of the pitch and, in the age of rotation we're living in at Portman Road, the fact he's not been involved in that shows you exactly how highly he's thought of by Lambert and his staff.
His partnership with Downes was the bedrock of Ipswich's side during the early weeks of the season and in truth there's no player who can bring Skuse's complete skillset to the table in his absence.
Youngster Brett McGavin plays the game in the same way, perhaps with more tenacity and a little less know-how at this stage, and while he's certainly impressed it's surely too early for the youngster to be thrown in in the league. You never know, though.
More likely is a league start for Emyr Huws or Jon Nolan alongside Downes or even both, depending on the formation Lambert goes with.
Andre Dozzell has taken his performance levels up a gear in recent weeks, since scoring in the FA Cup against Lincoln, and showed at Coventry last weekend how he and Downes can be an effective midfield partnership.
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The best-case scenario, though, is for Skuse to be good to go.
Sitting it out
James Norwood is suspended for this game after picking up his fifth booking for the season after barking at the linesman in the aftermath of Chambers' disallowed goal in the Wycombe draw.
That opens a door for Will Keane, who will be looking to repeat the trick of a week ago and score at St Andrew's once again.
His chances have been limited this season, especially in the league, and largely restricted to playing as a lone striker.
Keane insists he doesn't mind that role at all but, with plenty of evidence to back the following statement up, Ipswich players often toil when asked to perform up front alone.
There's every chance Keane could be paired with Kayden Jackson, though, and it's exciting to see what the two can do with their combination of Keane's neat interplay and ability to hold possession and Jackson's searing pace and willing running.
They'll miss Norwood's rugged approach and ability to bother defences physically, meaning keeping the ball on the floor will be crucial if the Ipswich forward line is to be effective.
Make a statement
The Blues have beaten just one member of League One's top 10 this season, with that success coming at Fleetwood in October.
They've drawn with four others (Wycombe, Peterborough, Blackpool and Sunderland), with their only defeat coming at Portman Road against Rotherham. They've yet to play Oxford, Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth and today opponents in league action.
You have to go back to November 5 at Rochdale for Ipswich's last league win and they've only won one of their seven games inside 90 minutes since (Lincoln away in the FA Cup).
It's by no means a crisis, but that run has seen Lambert's men lose top spot to an ultra-consistent Wycombe side.
So, all that considered, this game against a promotion rival would be the perfect time to make something of a statement.