Gill: Playing Shrewsbury on Sunday would have been 'detrimental to team performance and player welfare'

Town manager Paul Lambert (left) in discussion with his assistant manager Stuart Taylor (right) and

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert (left) in discussion with his assistant manager Stuart Taylor (right) and first team coach Matt Gill at Shrewsbury on Saturday. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town first team coach Matt Gill says that the decision not play Shrewsbury yesterday was made because it would have been 'detrimental to team performance and player welfare'.

The Blues stayed in Shropshire on Friday night only to arrive at the ground at 1.30pm on Saturday to discover a pitch inspection was underway. The officials soon came to the decision that small areas of frost in the field made it unsafe and called the game off with less than an hour until kick-off.

Town boss Paul Lambert raised the idea of playing the game the next day instead, something that both Shrewsbury and the EFL agreed to, but ultimately Ipswich made the decision not go down that route due to logistical reasons.

“It was disappointing, obviously," said Gill. "I think with the backlog of games that we’ve already got it was something we could have done without if I’m honest. 

"We’d prepared properly for the game, travelled up there Friday, so to be in the situation we were in at half one, quarter to two was not ideal."

Asked when he first knew the game was in doubt, Gill said: “When we arrived at the stadium. That was 1.30pm. The manager was asked to go onto the pitch pretty quickly and see the officials at that point. And that’s when, as you said, the shenanigans started. 

"Playing the game the next day was an avenue we suggested. But unfortunately, pretty quickly it became clear regarding hotels, food, the lack of training on the Saturday, that it would have been detrimental to our team performance and player welfare. So it was an avenue that we decided to go against. 

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"Once it became detrimental to team performance I think we thought ‘do you know what, we’re not going to put the players at risk’. Trying to find a new hotel, trying to get food sorted wouldn't have been easy." 

It was then out to Gill that some might suggest that those obstacles weren't insurmountable. Could he explain, from a professional position, why those things make such a big difference to performance?

People might say that hotels aren’t exactly packed at the moment and surely you could have sorted out some food somewhere. From a professional perspective, tell us how important all that is for preparation. 

“Well, if I put myself in the players’ shoes you prepare for a three o’clock kick-off on a Saturday," he said. "You obviously train Thursday/Friday, you travel, mentally you are prepared to go, then all of a sudden that is taken away from you an hour before kick-off and it’s a bit of a blow. 

“The lads were willing to try and give it a go on the Sunday. All credit to them, because if I put myself in their shoes it’s a tough one to get your head around that quickly. 

“The hotel we stayed in hadn’t been open, like a lot of hotels haven’t been. It was freezing cold for starters! 

“Were living in a time now where it’s not easy to go and get a hotel for 30 people and then have food in that is the type of nutrition that the lads need. We tried to show some flexibility, but, like I said, if it’s detrimental to team performance and player welfare then it’s not an avenue that we wanted to go down."

Town will now have to squeeze 21 games into 84 days, starting with tomorrow night's visit of Northampton Town.

“The schedule between now and the end of the season is far from ideal, but it’s something we’ve really got to thrive on and try and ignite the season," said Gill.

"I quite enjoyed the games coming thick and fast as a player. I think it’s an opportunity to build momentum, which we need. It’s also an opportunity to get over disappointment quickly. If you’ve got a game three days later you need to not dwell and move on pretty quickly for the next performance."

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