Friends reunited, points to prove and more goals, please - Town face U's
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town travel to near neighbours Colchester United for their penultimate friendly game of the pre-season tonight (7.45pm). Mark Heath looks at the talking points going into the match.
This piece is called 'talking points' but, let's be honest, there's really only one major point to talk about.
Tonight will see four members of last season's underwhelming Town side come face-to-face with the Blues for the first time since they departed in the summer and joined Colchester.
Chief among them is iconic long-time Town skipper Luke Chambers, of course, the man who played for and led Ipswich through nine up and down years, fist-pumping his way into the hearts of many a Town fan and onto the club's all-time top ten appearance-makers list.
It still seems odd that Chambers won't be trotting out at Portman Road on opening day, roaring at the crowd and hurling himself into tackles, so it will be stranger still to see him playing against the Blues tonight, clad in Colchester colours.
The same goes for his best friend and fellow former Town stalwart Cole Skuse, who also made the switch down the A12 in the summer after a season blighted by injury at Town.
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And they'll be joined in U's shirts tonight by Freddie Sears and Alan Judge, the final two of the quartet who played for Town last season.
While none of their departures were unexpected, there remains a feeling in some quarters that the uncoupling could have been handled better, with Judge sharing on social media that it wasn't the way he wanted his time at Town to end.
While tonight is a friendly game, and all of the above will surely be looking forward to seeing their former colleagues in blue, make no mistake - they'll want to prove a point too.
With just two games left before the big kick-off, it's expected that Town's starting XI will play the first 60 minutes or so before making way for the youngsters and fringe players.
Summer signing and captain-in-waiting Lee Evans is carrying a slight knock and is unlikely to be risked tonight, meaning that youngster Cameron Humphreys will probably get the chance to build on his impressive showing on Saturday, alongside Rekeem Harper at the heart of the Town midfield.
The rest of the side will likely look much the same as Saturday's starters - Vaclav Hladky in goal, Kane Vincent-Young and Matt Penney at full back, Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden at centre-back and Harper and Humphreys as the deep-sitting midfielders, with any combination of Scott Fraser, James Norwood, Wes Burns and Joe Pigott in the attacking positions.
It would be nice to see Fraser in his favoured number 10 role tonight, having played wide on Saturday, so perhaps Norwood will drop to the bench and we'll see either Macauley Bonne - a former U himself - or Armando Dobra get a chance wide left.
Now, I know these games are only friendlies and results don't matter. But of all Town's issues last season, the lack of goals was the most glaring.
And in pre-season so far the Blues have managed just two goals in first team games - scored by Evans (a cracker at Fulham) and youngster Tawanda Chirewa's fine effort at Dartford. The aforementioned Humphreys scored at Bury too, but that was largely an U23 outing.
So let's have some goals tonight, please Ipswich - it would be cracking to see new strikers Pigott and Bonne both get off the mark ahead of the big kick-off.
While tonight is a friendly, the two sides will meet again in a match that matters further down the line.
That clash comes at Portman Road in the Papa John's EFL Trophy on Tuesday, November 9. Lets hope that one is as spicy as a good pepperoni.
More former Blues
We've already talked about the four most recent ex-Town players involved tonight, but let's not forget the others who will likely see action later.
Tommy Smith will be the U's captain this season ahead of Chambers, while fellow former Town defender Tom Eastman is a true U's stalwart.
Dean Gerken should be between the sticks for the U's, while striker Frank Nouble will be keen to pressure Town's back line.
Incredibly, that makes eight ex-Town players who are likely to play major roles for Colchester this season. It will be interesting to watch how that goes from afar.