Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 5°C

Search
Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

Search for a win, silver linings and wildcards on the bench - big questions ahead of Birmingham visit

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:47 28 September 2018

Jon Nolan is likely to be in the Ipswich Town side to face Birmingham City tomorrow.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Jon Nolan is likely to be in the Ipswich Town side to face Birmingham City tomorrow. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town’s bid for a first victory under Paul Hurst goes on. Andy Warren looks at the big questions ahead of the Blues’ visit to Birmingham City tomorrow.

Paul Hurst's bid for a first win as Ipswich Town manager goes to Birmingham this weekend. Photo: Steve WallerPaul Hurst's bid for a first win as Ipswich Town manager goes to Birmingham this weekend. Photo: Steve Waller

Will this be the one?

The big question being asked heading into each Ipswich game these days as the winless run goes on: Will this be the day the Paul Hurst era truly gets up and running?

Clearly a first victory would be a major plus for a side struggling for confidence right now, although both the Town manager and goalkeeper Dean Gerken stressed just how good the mood is in the camp during their press conferences yesterday.

Getting the monkey off their backs would surely allow the Blues to play with more freedom, although it’s maybe a little naïve to expect a maiden three points to immediately lead to a major surge up the table.

While much of the attention is on the fact Hurst’s Ipswich are the division’s only winless side, it must be said they have yet to secure as much as a point on their travels, either.

Doing the latter, accompanied by a good performance, would represent progress heading into two big games against Middlesbrough and Swansea prior to the next international break.

MORE: ‘I’ve had a player say they think it’s the best squad we’ve had’ – Hurst on mood in Town camp

Who’s available?

“We’ve had a couple of knocks in training that could rule players out so that might have to be a late call,” Hurst said at his press conference yesterday.

Freddie Sears has not played for Ipswich Town since the game at Sheffield Wednesday.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comFreddie Sears has not played for Ipswich Town since the game at Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

“We are travelling tomorrow (Friday) so that’s not ideal when it comes to knowing exactly what we’re doing.”

The Blues boss stopped short of naming those players struggling with injuries, just as he did when Jon Walters was dealing with an achilles problem ahead of the recent game with Brentford.

Hurst’s hand could be forced depending on whether the mystery men are available or not, but the Blues boss has decisions to make in any case.

Does Matthew Pennington continue at right back or does Janoi Donacien return? Who starts in attack – Ellis Harrison, Kayden Jackson or both? Who fills the left wing position?

Freddie Sears is back after suffering with a groin problem and will travel to Birmingham while Andre Dozzell ‘is not a million miles away’ as he continues to work on his fitness in the Under 23s.

Long-term absentees Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Tom Adeyemi will again all miss out as they deal with their own injury problems.

MORE: ‘He’s trained, looked sharp and scored a few goals’ - Hurst says Sears still has a role to play

A good or bad time to face Birmingham?

Jon Walters' injury is a big blow to Ipswich Town.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMJon Walters' injury is a big blow to Ipswich Town. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

At one stage it had looked as if this contest had been destined to be a showdown between the Championship’s two winless sides.

However, that narrative was scrapped after Birmingham’s shock victory at table-topping Leeds United last weekend.

Despite disappointing results and the looming threat of a potential points deduction for financial irregularities, there had been a feeling of positivity surrounding Garry Monk’s side throughout the opening weeks of the season.

Even still, despite a string of good performances, a 2-1 win at Elland Road certainly was not in the script.

Garry Monk's Birmingham won at Leeds last weekend. Picture: PAGarry Monk's Birmingham won at Leeds last weekend. Picture: PA

So will that spark be the victory Monk’s side needed to truly get their season off and running or will it be another case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’? Confidence will certainly be high but Monk has already pointed out his side must now capitalise and beat Ipswich if they are to really feel the benefit of their shock Leeds win.

MORE: ‘I wouldn’t rule it out but it’s difficult to find someone who can contribute’ - Hurst on signing free agent striker

Could Walters’ injury actually lead to positives?

News that the veteran striker has been ruled out for six months has come as a bitter blow to the Blues.

The 35-year-old’s loan return seemed a perfect fit as he brought experience to a squad lacking second-tier know-how and helped lift a fanbase yearning for better days.

He will be missed, that’s for sure, but his presence also played a part in giving Hurst a selection headache each and every matchday.

With six loanees in the squad and only five able to be included, defender Donacien has often been the fall-guy despite a string of promising performances.

This is no longer an issue for the Ipswich manager, who is still yet to find his best XI at Portman Road.

Jack Lankester has impressed for the Under 23s lately. Picture: ROSS HALLSJack Lankester has impressed for the Under 23s lately. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Jackson and Harrison look set to shoulder the striking load between now and January at least, with the pair still trying to find their feet at second tier level.

They will have benefited greatly from Walters’ presence but will now share his minutes on the field. Time on the pitch is the only real way to find form but now it’s up to them to take advantage.

It’s hard to argue losing a player of Walters’ stature and ability could be in any way positive, because in an isolated sense it certainly isn’t, but there is at least a faint silver lining to this dark cloud.

MORE: ‘I’m devastated but there are a hell of a lot of people worse off than me’ - Walters reflects on injury

Could youth offer Hurst a wildcard?

The Blues’ youth teams are flying right now, playing a similar system to Paul Hurst’s first team in a pointed bid to try and replicate a universal style throughout the club.

The Under 23s and Under 18s both top their Professional Development League Two South tables, with a number of young players impressing.

The older age group beat Coventry 4-1 on Monday night, with Ben Folami scoring twice, new professional Jack Lankester catching the eye once again and Andre Dozzell looking good in midfield.

Folami is away with Australia for the next month while Hurst says Dozzell ‘isn’t a million miles away’, but could Lankester add something to the party? He’s certainly a confident young man, with that confidence showing itself in his displays at youth level this season.

It’s overly simplistic to suggest any of the above can seamlessly reproduce their good form in the senior arena but, if afforded a place on the bench, could youthful enthusiasm and undoubted confidence offer Hurst a potential wild card in the second half of a tight game?

Cole Skuse agrees that his team mate and good friend Luke Chambers has probably taken on too much responsibility as Ipswich Town captain.

Shrewsbury Town chief executive Brian Caldwell has ruled out Paul Hurst returning to the club following his recent sacking by Ipswich Town.

More than 500 tickets have been donated for Ipswich Town’s home game against West Brom next Friday evening after one small act of kindness gained online momentum.

Toto Nsiala may currently find himself on the fringes of the Ipswich Town first-team but the central defender continues to make an impact off the field each and every week.

We’ve ranked the home kits of all 24 Championship teams. So who comes out on top?

Andre Dozzell has revealed his frustration as his return to action stalled earlier in the season but the teenager is now hungry for minutes on the field after returning to the first-team picture.

In past columns I have talked about a divide between athletes that earn large amounts of money, and those that do not, and how there is a movement in Ipswich to bring this sporting diversity together.

ANDY WARREN spoke to Ipswich Town No.2 Stuart Taylor about his journey from cleaning Paul Lambert’s boots at St Mirren to assisting him at Portman Road.

Striker Kayden Jackson scored a hat-trick as Ipswich Town defeated QPR 5-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Playford Road this afternoon.

Trevoh Chalobah has been training with the full England squad today ahead of the Three Lions’ clash with the United States tomorrow night.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24