Celina or Chaplin as the No.10? Coulson and/or Penney fit? - What Cook had to say

Paul Cook faces the media at Accrington Stanley.

Idris El Mizouni says he has 'loved' working under manager Paul Cook (pictured). - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says he's ready to utilise his squad over the coming week.

The Blues have there League One games in the space of eight days. After making the short trip to Cambridge United tomorrow, they then head down to the south coast to face Portsmouth on Tuesday night before hosting Fleetwood next Saturday.

Bersant Celina is available again, having missed last weekend's 2-1 home win against Shrewsbury due to being away on international duty with Kosovo, but it remains to be seen if he will go straight back into the team given the recent form of Conor Chaplin.

The likes of Kyle Edwards, Joe Pigott, Sone Aluko and Rekeem Harper were all on the bench last weekend too, meaning Cook has an array of attacking options. 

“We’ll just keep our cards close to our chest," said Cook, in typically guarded fashion.

“We’ve got an extremely strong squad and competition for places is there for everyone to see. 

“Personally, as a manager, I’ve always felt competition should drive performances up. I think that’s a real key ingredient to what good clubs have – that you fear for your place. 

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“If Bersant wasn’t to start tomorrow, that would obviously be tough (on him) after he’s been away playing international football, but obviously Conor has come in and took his chance. 

Conor Chaplin s after team-mate Macauley Bonne had scored to make it 2-1.

Conor Chaplin has scored three goals in his last four appearances for Ipswich Town. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“I think with three games coming up this week, three very tough fixtures, starting at Cambridge, we’re going to have to try and utilise the squad in certain areas to get the best level of performance we can and he most points we can accumulate."

When it was put to Cook that supporters often wonder why players aren't capable of playing there times a week in the modern game, the Blues boss replied: “I’d probably be in the fans’ way of thinking on that, if I’m brutally truthful. 

“But if you look at the performance at Accrington (a 2-1 loss), after we won against Doncaster (6-0), then that probably goes against the grain. 

“As a manager you are probably damned if you and damned if you don’t aren’t you?  

“When you look at the flair players we have at the top end of the pitch we do have a lot of good players. 

“Our goals for column is very, very healthy and good. A change or two, or tweak or two, I don’t think alters how we play. 

“If the lads come into the team with the attitude that Chaplin has had, for example, the reality is the performances stay the same. So watch this space."

Cook has tried several players in the No.10 role in his preferred 4-2-3-1 system this season, including Celina (four games), Chaplin (four games), Louie Barry (three games), Scott Fraser (two games), Joe Pigott (one game) and, off the bench, Harper. 

Bersant Celina after the defeat at Accrington Stanley.

Bersant Celina is likely to be away with Kosovo when Ipswich Town host Oxford United next Saturday. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“There’s always a big debate in football now about formations and tactics," said the Blues boss.

"The reality is, if two teams play the same formation then normally the team with the better players with the better attitude will win. 

“People just tweak formations as and when. With our team, we play with a 10, as such, but we actually don’t. We actually try to utilise the 10 to play wherever we feel we can hurt the opposition. 

“Because in a modern day formation of 4-3-3 the deep-lying sitter takes the number 10 out the game. So it’s all tweaks and different stuff. 

“What Chaplin’s proven is that he carries a goal threat. Conor’s a goalscorer. He’s an extra striker. 

“When you see Bersant playing there, he’s a creator. He can score goals, but he’s more of a creator. He assists more. 

“It’s about putting all the ingredients in place to come up with the best formula for the best Ipswich Town team on the day. 

“Eleven league games in, are we still searching for that? Possibly. And that's due to the calibre of player."

Hayden Coulson on his debut.

Hayden Coulson has made an impressive start to life at Ipswich Town. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

He added: “There are no secrets in football now. Their gaffer (Mark Bonner) was at our game last weekend and the analysis is there. They’ll know how we’re going to play, they’ll come up with their own formula.  

“We’re forever tweaking our system purely in relation to not being predictable. But that’s something that’s a challenge for all clubs."

Hayden Coulson has missed the last five games with a thigh injury, but was due to be back in training this week. Matt Penney went off with a tight hamstring last weekend.

Asked for an injury update on his left-backs, Cook said: “The reality is guys I’m not going to speak about the injuries and squads... These press conferences are what they are. 

“We want to give Cambridge the utmost respect. They got promotion last year, I’m sure them lads will be delighted with how they’ve started, it’s a big game for them tomorrow, so I won’t be debating our squad and people who may be in or out." 

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