Gill on Northampton clash, 'green shoots' and squad rotation
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town first team coach Matt Gill hopes the 'green shoots' from the recent 2-0 home win against Blackpool continue to grow in tomorrow night's League One clash with Northampton Town at Portman Road (7pm).
The Blues produced a much-improved performance in victory over the Tangerines nine days ago, but soon followed that up with a disappointing 2-1 midweek loss at Peterborough United and then saw Saturday's scheduled match at in-form Shrewsbury postponed less than an hour before kick-off due to a partly frozen pitch.
Second-bottom Northampton arrive in Suffolk having lost eight of their previous 12 league matches, Keith Curle having recently been sacked and Jon Brady currently in caretaker charge.
“Peterborough was disappointing, very disappointing," said Gill. "There was the green shoots of the battling performance away at Crewe (1-1), then a very decent performance at home to Blackpool, so it felt disappointing last Tuesday night.
“I’m not particularly someone who wants to dwell. You have to learn from defeats and try and improve. That’s something we need to take into tomorrow. Hopefully those green shoots from Blackpool can continue to grow.
“Obviously we’re looking for a really positive performance. Northampton recently sacked their manager, they’re fighting relegation and they’ll be desperately trying to get themselves out of the situation they’re in. So it will be a tough game, but it’s one where we need to show the initiative and be really positive."
Northampton lost 2-0 at home to rock-bottom Burton on Saturday, conceding two late goals after seeing a goal chalked off for a marginal offside and also hitting the crossbar in the first half. The Cobblers switched to a back four under new boss Brady and were far less direct than previously under Curle.
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“That's pretty much it in a nutshell," said Gill. “They obviously were quite direct under Keith and had unbelievable success last year in getting promoted during a real tough spell for the club, so his work shouldn’t go unnoticed, but, yes, they did try to pass the ball a little bit more than they had done previously with the guy in charge at the moment.
“But I would like to think the majority of the work we do is on us and how we approach the game and how we can take the initiative."
On preparations having changed due to Saturday's postponement, Gill explained: “We’d have recovered on Sunday and some of the lads would have had a day off. Instead we came in yesterday (Sunday) and trained and had a real good session to make up for Saturday’s miss and we’ll train again today as per matchday minus one, as we call it, preparing for the game."
Asked if will be the same starting XI that had been picked to face Shrewsbury, Gill said: “Erm, it could be! Obviously we’ve got a lot of competition for places, as you know. Obviously it’s three days later than Saturday would have been, so that brings other players into the fray. You’ll have to wait and see."
Town boss Paul Lambert used a 4-3-3 formation all season up until last week's Peterborough game, for which he switched to a 4-4-2 diamond system. Could that be deployed again?
“I think with the times we’re in you have to be adaptable and you have to be flexible," said Gill. "I think it’s certainly an option. We went to it at Crewe late on in the game. Obviously we played a couple of different formations last year. I don’t think you can rule anything out at this stage. You need to be flexible and you need the ability to adapt."
Striker Kayden Jackson is available again after serving a three-game ban for his red card against Sunderland.
“Kayden’s been working hard, the same as a number of the lads," said Gill.
Asked if Jackson could be suited to playing in a front two, Gill replied: "I think Kayden’s played in a two previously, both here and at previous clubs. It’s an option. We’ve got quite a few options now, which is good.
“Players have the ability to play in a few different positions and a few different formations which I think is a plus for us."
And what about the potential to move captain Luke Chambers inside to play centre-half following the arrival of right-back Luke Matheson on loan from Wolves?
“It’s obviously an option," said Gill. "He’s obviously played a lot of career at centre-half, so it’s certainly an option."
With five games having now been postponed in what was already a compacted season, Ipswich now have 21 games to play in 84 days. As a result, Town boss Lambert has made it clear that squad rotation may have to return to manage a relentless Saturday-Tuesday schedule.
That was evident when the four changes were made to the team which started the 2-0 win against Blackpool for the following game against Peterborough.
Asked why players aren't capable of churning out the games, Gill replied: “That’s probably a question for them! It’s an interesting one. I think some players would like to play loads of football. I think some players get fatigued and you have to look after them.
“Obviously physical performance is a major part of football these days with the distances they are travelling, the sprint distances and the high speed running. There have been lots of injuries this year, even at the top level, so it’s about trying to be wary of that and not put people in physical danger.
“Most of the lads are pretty robust though and are willing to play when they are needed."
Asked if players are ever told that they were being rested for one game but assured they'd be starting the next, Gill said: “There’s a little bit of that. A little bit. It's one of them ones, who’s physically ready to play again? I think it can be a dangerous thing having an eye on two or three games at a time.
“We’ve made it pretty clear that if you get in the team and do well there will be occasions where you need to come out for recovery purposes or just to make sure we are looking after you physically.
“It’s a bit of everything really. You need to make sure you are prepared to roll out the same team if they’ve done well, but there will be occasions where you do need to make changes.
"I think having some strength in depth will certainly help us and it’s something we need to take advantage of it needed."
Ipswich have dropped to 12th in the table but have at least one game in hand on nine of the teams above them. They are 10 points adrift of second, nine points adrift of fifth and five points adrift of sixth.
“My view is you have to win the next game," said Gill. "Ideally we’d be 15 points clear the top, but we’re not. You can only affect what happens next. That’s the view I’ve tried to take my whole career really. Take responsibility and affect what happens next. That’s what we’re trying to do. And the next game is Northampton. We need to be really positive going into that.
"There’s obviously lots of football left to play. There were some strange results at the weekend, if you want to put it like that. There is a long way to go and I think there will be loads of twists and turns between now and the end of the season.
“Look at the amazing run Oxford have been on. (nine wins from 10). That just shows you it can be done.
“We’ve had a similar run at the start of the season when it was really positive, so we know we are capable of it.
“It’s about doing everything we possibly can to get on another run like that."