Voyage into the unknown, flexing the squad, Portman Road closures and facing Pochettino Jnr - Town take on young Spurs in EFL Trophy
PUBLISHED: 19:00 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 20:37 02 September 2019
Ipswich Town play their first EFL Trophy game in club history on Tuesday evening when they take on Tottenham's Under 21s. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the game.
A brave new world
Here we go, then. Ipswich Town are about to 'make history' as they compete in the EFL Trophy for the first time.
The hope must be that this season is a case of 'one and done' in this competition, with promotion to the Championship the true goal of the campaign.
But is this Trophy a distraction or a chance to build a winning culture and reach a Wembley final? Ipswich are one of only nine teams in the top four divisions of English football to have not appeared at the new national stadium.
Attitudes to this competition will differ depending on who you ask, with manager Paul Lambert and first team coach Matt Gill demonstrating that in the build-up, while there has also been a #bteamboycott movement since Premier League sides were allowed to enter Under 21 teams.
But for the 11 players selected to play this evening, the 90 minutes (and possibly a penalty shootout if the scores are level at the end of regulation) will serve a real purpose.
Expect changes galore this evening. Quite possibly 11.
There are rules in place to ensure clubs play 'full strength' sides in this competition but they aren't strict enough to force Lambert to do anything he doesn't want to do.
Clubs must include four starters who have either started the last league game, start the next, have made more than 40 senior appearances in their careers or are one of the club's 10 highest appearance-makers this season.
In short, Lambert can select whichever side he likes from a senior squad now made up of more than 30 professional players.
The walking wounded
While squad players such as Janoi Donacien and Jordan Roberts will benefit from this game, most notable is the opportunity for players working their way back to fitness to get minutes in their legs.
Top of that list are midfielder Jon Nolan and Emyr Huws who, when fit, firing and truly pushing Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes for starting roles, surely confirm the Blues as having the strongest midfield outside the top two divisions.
There's also a chance Toto Nsiala could return, given he warmed up with the senior squad before Saturday's game with Shrewsbury.
This game may come slightly too soon for Will Keane, though, with the striker still looking for fitness after hamstring surgery.
Another chance to impress
Armando Dobra and Idris El Mizouni will join up with their international squads (Albania U19 and Tunisia U23) a few days late in order to play in this game, which offers both the chance to build on their impressive showings during pre-season.
Dobra also impressed at Luton in the cup, his only senior appearance to date, on a night where Bailey Clements also made his senior debut. The night was a little tougher for the left-back but he could get another opportunity to show what he can do.
Beyond that, central defender Corrie Ndaba seems the most likely debutant, while forward Kai Brown was on the bench for the first-team at the end of last season without making it onto the field.
In from the cold?
Could we get a sighting of Barry Cotter in an Ipswich Town shirt this evening?
The Irishman has been some distance from the Blues' first team under both Paul Hurst and Lambert, having infamously made his debut in what proved to be Mick McCarthy's final game in charge.
He's had to make do with Under 23 football since the end of the 2017/18 season, with question marks over his discipline, and it remains to be seen if he has earned involvement tonight.
Tottenham's side will almost certainly consist entirely of players from their youth set-up, with the Premier League side opting not to field a single senior player last season as they reached the last 32.
The name most likely to jump off the team-sheet is that of Maurizio Pochettino - son of Spurs boss Mauricio.
The younger Pochettino, 18, is a winger who is highly thought of in North London (and not just by his dad).
Large sections of Portman Road will be closed for this evening's game, with only the lower tier of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand and bottom two tiers of the East of England Co-op Stand open for business.
The lowest recorded crowd for a first-team game in Portman Road history came back in 1939, when 2,858 watched the Blues take on Northampton in the Division Three South Cup.
The Blues have already surpassed that figure with pre-match ticket sales, with a crowd of more than 5,000 hoped for.
Just 6,858 watched Ipswich's League Cup game with Stevenage in August 2016 while Full Members Cup and Anglo Italian Cup games in the 1990s all regularly attracted less than 6,000 fans.
But they never dropped below 5,000, with 5,087 fans attending a 4-1 victory over Watford in the Full Members Cup in November 1989.