Ex–Ipswich duo could line up in attack against U’s
HUDDERSFIELD could pair former Ipswich Town team mates Alan Lee and Jordan Rhodes in attack at Colchester United this afternoon.
Only champions Norwich City scored more goals in League One than the Terriers last season, the Yorkshire side netting 82 times on their way to a sixth-place finish and play-off semi-final defeat to Millwall.
Rhodes scored 23 goals in all competitions in that campaign and started 2010/11 with five in seven, showing just why the vast majority of Ipswich fans were so disappointed to see the promising young forward sold just over a year ago.
However, the goals have dried up somewhat both for him and his team in the last few weeks as Huddersfield, unusually, head into today’s game in Essex having failed to score in their last three league games.
Manager Lee Clark brought in two new strikers from Championship clubs this summer, signing former Portman Road favourite Lee from Crystal Palace and 22-year-old Joe Garner on loan from Nottingham Forest.
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Along with Lee Novak – who himself scored 14 times last season – that has left The Terriers boss with four strikers vying for places in a 4-4-2 line-up and so far Clark doesn’t appear to have settled on a regular two.
Rhodes and Garner have been paired up the most times, but the ex-Ipswich combination of Rhodes/Lee has been used three times, while it was Lee/Novak who helped the club to a 3-2 win over Peterborough in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.
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“Without trying to be negative, if the strikers score on a regular basis and perform to a level they will be put in the side,” said Clark.
“Over the last two years Alan has undertaken a specific role – to stay in the middle of the pitch and be a bit of battering ram. We play high tempo football, just as Alan did at Ipswich, but he is still coming to terms with what we’re after and Alan knows that.
“I think you can see glimpses of how well he links play up and he’s prepared to do other work for the side.”
Huddersfield lost just once at The Galpharm last season – to champions Norwich City – but they have already matched that total this season thanks to last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Bristol Rovers.
“Colchester haven’t been beaten at home for a long time, but that was the case for ourselves before last weekend and as we saw these records are there to be broken,” said Clark.
“It was a very good sign that we got back to winning way on Tuesday night, but we took a lot of positives from the previous games as well.
“We might have lost the games, but it wasn’t all negative and downbeat – the stats I got from those games showed that my team were doing a lot of good things in terms of possession and creating chances.”
He added: “I don’t think Colchester will be as direct this year. I know John (Ward) very well and I know what he is about – he is a football man.”
Clark will be without highly-rated England Under-21 keeper Alex Smithies today as he is struggling with a leg injury. In his place comes 39-year-old former Birmingham custodian Ian Bennett, while 16-year-old academy player Lloyd Allinson steps up to the bench.
Defender Nathan Clarke (knee) is likely to only be fit enough for the bench, while Gary Roberts (broken arm), Gary Naysmith (toe) and Tom Clarke (knee) are all out.
– Two-page Colchester United match preview in today’s EADT. For live match updates, follow Stuart_Watson at www.twitter.com.