Defeats to avenge, players facing ex-clubs and Lambert going back to the start - sub-plots galore for Ipswich Town in League One
PUBLISHED: 09:53 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 25 June 2019
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Ipswich Town are preparing for life in League One. STUART WATSON looks at some of the intriguing sub-plots that await in 2019/20.
RETURN OF A HERO
James Norwood wrote himself into Tranmere Rovers folklore by firing the club to back-to-back promotions from the National League to League One.
The 28-year-old striker now has his sights on a third-tier promotion, but that will be at Ipswich Town following a lucrative Bosman free transfer switch.
Will he celebrate if he scores against his former club at Portman Road on September 28? He penned an emotional farewell note of thanks to Rovers fans after completing the switch.
And what sort of reception will he get on his return to Prenton Park on January 18?
GHOST OF LONDON ROAD...
Peterborough United 7 (seven) Ipswich Town 1.
That was August 2011. A scoreline that still sends shudders down the spine.
Lee Martin and Tommy Smith both sent off either side of half-time. Lee Tomlin hat-trick. Braces for Paul Taylor and Grant McCann. Paul Jewell in that pink shirt.
Yes, London Road has not been a happy hunting ground for the Blues. They drew 0-0 there last time out (March 2013). In 2009/10 they lost twice under Roy Keane's management (3-1 in the league and 2-1 in the League Cup).
Granted, the two clubs have rarely faced each other over the years (just 11 times), but you have to go back as far as 1972 for Town's last away win against the Posh (2-0 in the FA Cup).
That fixture comes just four games into the campaign and four days after a Carabao Cup trip to Luton Town.
THE HOLY ONE
Have Town signed the second coming of Bartosz Bialkowski?
The Polish keeper arrived on a Bosman free transfer from Notts County after two impressive seasons in League One. Now the Blues have turned to Czech keeper Tomas Holy on a Bosman free transfer from Gillingham after two impressive seasons in League One...
It remains to be seen whether the 6ft 9in custodian is to be the Blues' new starting keeper and what squad number he'll be handed.
If he is to become 'the Holy one' (geddit?), then he'll be back between the sticks at Priestfield on September 9 before facing Steve Evans' Gills at Portman Road during the extended celebrations of Jesus' birthday.
CUP EXITS TO AVENGE
Town have suffered some chastening FA Cup defeats in recent years.
Portsmouth were a League Two club when they beat the Blues in a third round replay at Fratton Park in 2016.
Lincoln City were a National League outfit when they inflicted national TV embarrassment on Mick McCarthy's men at Sincil Bank in 2017.
And Accrington Stanley were a newly-promoted League One outfit when they despatched Town at the Wham Stadium last season.
Now, rather soberingly, all three clubs are Town's divisional peers.
POINT TO PROVE
Portsmouth could be chasing promotion with a front line comprising of two recent Ipswich Town strikers...
Brett Pitman scored 13 goals for Pompey last season as they won the Checkatrade Trophy, and finished three points adrift of automatic promotion before losing to Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.
He's now been joined at Fratton Park by Ellis Harrison after Kenny Jackett finally landed his long-term target.
The 25-year-old made just nine starts in his single, injury-hit campaign at Portman Road. Paul Lambert decided recouping around two thirds of the £750k paid to Bristol Rovers by former boss Paul Hurst represented good business.
The Welshman has already spoken about repaying a manager who trusts him and being determined to show what he can do.
Town don't face Portsmouth until December 21 (a) and then host them in a potentially crunch clash on March 21.
There are plenty of other familiar faces Town will come up against in League One - all midfielders.
Luke Hyam struggled with injuries during his first season at Southend, but played a key role in their dramatic survival.
Grant Leadbitter rejected Championship interest to return to his boyhood club of Sunderland back in January.
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Anthony Wordsworth was a regular for AFC Wimbledon last season as they mounted an unlikely rise off the foot of the table and away from danger in the second half of the campaign.
Ed Upson, who scored Town's FA Youth Cup winning goal against Southampton back in 2005, is about to embark on his second season at Bristol Rovers.
Stuart O'Keefe spent six years in Town's academy before being released. He's just signed for Gillingham having previously played for Cardiff, Crystal Palace and Southend.
Meanwhile, Matt Bloomfield is a player gagging to face the club who released him back in 2004. The 35-year-old has played more than 500 times for Wycombe, but never against the Blues.
He recently moved back to Suffolk to raise his family in Felixstowe and has been working with Town's Under-15s on Wednesday evenings.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Talking of Wycombe, Paul Lambert's first management job in English football was at Adams Park.
After one year as player-manager at Livingston, he moved 376 miles south to take charge of the League Two club. He guided the Chairboys to the League Cup semi-finals and then resigned after a second successive play-off failure.
Town host Wycombe on October 12 and then travel to Buckinghamshire on New Year's Day.