Points to prove and shirts to win as Cook rings changes for Trophy clash
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
Ipswich Town are in Papa John's Trophy action against Gillingham tonight. Andy Warren takes a look ahead to the game at Priestfield.
State of play
Here we go, then, another slice of Papa John’s Trophy action.
Town lost their first game in this competition this season, losing out to West Ham’s Under 21s last month, and sit bottom of the group as a result.
But victory tonight would mean the Blues, Gillingham, Colchester and the young Hammers would all sit on three points heading into the final round of matches. Town face Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse and Colchester United next month to round out Group I.
The top two teams in the group qualify so, if Paul Cook’s men are successful tonight, then it’s all to play for.
They could still qualify for the next round, even if they lose tonight and then beat Colchester and improve their goal difference, as long as Gillingham go on and beat West Ham on October 26.
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Remember, too, that if the scores are level after 90 minutes of tonight’s 7pm kick-off, each side will get a point and then contest a penalty shootout to decide who gets a second.
Picking a team
Changes are coming, we know that. There are plenty of Ipswich players who will be grateful of minutes in the Trophy, even if this competition is way down the priority list.
Tomas Holy will be in consideration to start in goal, with Christian Walton still likely out with a hip problem. But could Cook stick with Vaclav Hladky following his resurgence, allowing the Czech to continue to build his confidence?
Kane Vincent-Young, Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden will all surely start in defence, while Rekeem Harper, Idris El Mizouni and youngster Cameron Humphreys will all be in consideration for midfield roles.
Then, in the attacking three behind the striker, there’s Sone Aluko, Conor Chaplin and Louie Barry all needing time on the pitch. Kyle Edwards is a likely starter against Shrewsbury in the league on Saturday, given Bersant Celina will be on international duty, so there’s every chance Cook will want to use this game to get him up to speed.
James Norwood is a likely starter up front, with Joe Pigott only just back in training following a virus. There’s also Kayden Jackson to consider.
Youngsters Albie Armin and Zanda Siziba were both involved in the West Ham game and likely will be again.
In from the cold?
Bear with me on this one...
The left-back position hasn’t been mentioned above, so could this be a very rare opportunity for Myles Kenlock to play some football?
The academy product is a mile away from the first-team, pushed aside by Cook and told he has no future in his team during a summer which saw so many of his former team-mates moved on. He’s not been included in Town’s 22-man squad this season, meaning Cook can’t select him in league games even in the unlikely event he wanted to.
Kenlock featured for the Under 23s in pre-season but hasn’t since their competitive programme began, with Sutton United one of very few to show any interest at all in signing him despite him clearly being available all summer. No move materialised and he remains on the books.
So, with Hayden Coulson injured, Matt Penney the first-team starter unlikely to be risked and Bailey Clements playing with Kieron Dyer’s Under 23s at Swansea yesterday, could there be an unlikely appearance for Kenlock?
It would certainly be a surprise, an unlikely one at that, but what an appearance might do is remind certain clubs of his existence and perhaps provide something of a shop window as Town continue their attempts to move him on. His contract expires in the summer.
Just a thought.
The more likely option is Armin, who impressed in the centre of defence against West Ham, shifting to left-back for this one. He’s equally comfortable there.
Keeping the shirt
Whatever side Cook picks tonight, he’ll want to see a much better display than the one which saw the Blues beaten at Accrington on Saturday.
And, if he gets it, then maybe, just maybe, one or two players may force their way into the Town boss’s league side when Shrewsbury visit.
We know Celina will be absent on Saturday, meaning the door is ajar for one of Edwards, Chaplin or Aluko to come in and start. Wes Burns and Scott Fraser may also be a little vulnerable after quiet displays at the Wham Stadium.
Harper will be looking to push his way back towards a starting spot, Vincent-Young will want to improve on his recent displays and both Nsiala and Woolfenden will be out to serve a reminder of their quality.
It will likely take more than a good display in the Trophy for the majority of those mentioned above to oust Cook’s starters, but there are plenty of players who could begin to change their manager’s thinking in this one.
Ah, Gillingham. Another game with Gillingham.
This will be the seventh meeting between the two since Town’s demotion to League One and, in exciting news, there are still two league games to play this season to take that total to nine.
Battles past have been eventful, particularly when ‘Glasgow men’ Steve Evans and Paul Lambert met on the touchline. There was certainly no love lost between the two.
Town won four and drew one of the first five of the previous six games scoring eight and not conceding in the process, before Gillingham’s 3-1 victory in March ensured Cook’s Ipswich reign began with defeat.
Both sides will make changes tonight, but both will want to win.