Lambert’s search goes on after missing out on Mayor... but is the left-sided answer already waiting in the wings?
- Credit: Archant
After Ipswich Town target Danny Mayor opted to join Plymouth Argyle, ANDY WARREN looks at the in-house options for the Ipswich Town left wing role.
Mayor was at Portman Road last week to discuss a potential move to Portman Road, but has ultimately joined Plymouth Argyle.
The lure of working with Ryan Lowe once again, having thrived under his management at Bury last season, proved too good to turn down for a 28-year-old who thought long and hard about where would be best to play his football next season.
Revamping the forward line is clearly a priority for Lambert this summer, with prolific Tranmere striker James Norwood already signed.
But is the answer on the left wing already in the building at Portman Road?
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Signed as a winger by Paul Hurst, the 25-year-old was seen as something of a project by the former Town boss and featured just twice under his management - totalling 23 minutes as a substitute.
His 15-minute cameo at Derby gave us a glimpse of his crossing ability as he fired two good balls into the box that team-mates were unable to latch onto - and that's all we've seen of Roberts in his natural position, really.
The arrival of Paul Lambert came at a time when the Blues were without a physical frontman due to injuries to Ellis Harrison and Jon Walters, with the Scot opting to use Roberts as a makeshift forward.
Initially it worked, as he won the penalty that Freddie Sears converted against Preston and led the line superbly in the draw at Reading, but his form dried up somewhat as it became clear he was best suited to a wide role.
Roberts had earned the trust of Lambert but the arrival of Collin Quaner and Will Keane saw him loaned out to Lincoln, before he returned this summer and is very much part of the Town boss's plans.
He's come back in excellent shape, registering the highest score on the Blues' bleep test during the opening pre-season session, but will we see him given a go wide on the left?
Like Roberts, Rowe spent the second half of last season on loan at Lincoln and helped the Imps secure the League Two title.
He played significantly more than Roberts, making 17 appearances and scoring four goals, with much of his time spent in a No.10 role behind the central strikers.
But at Ipswich we know him as a bustling left winger, who has shown glimpses of quality without being able to secure anything close to a regular role under three Town bosses.
Now aged 27, regular football must surely be on Rowe's agenda as he enters the peak years of his career.
But, like all of the Blues' other returning loanees, he will be given a chance to impress this summer.
The teenager is back in training after a worrying back injury ended what was shaping up to be a superb breakthrough season prematurely.
He forced his way into the first team picture through a succession of impressive performances on the right flank for the Under 23s, cutting inside to find the net on a few occasions.
The biggest positive was that Lankester played with that same confidence and verve when called into the senior side, initially by Hurst, with his goal against Millwall on New Year's Day a perfect replica of those goals in age group football earlier in the campaign.
Despite playing largely as a right winger, Lankester is left footed.
Lambert has a liking for 'inverted' wingers, cutting inside to drive towards goal, so could Lankester switch flanks and perform from there?
Talking of inverted wingers, that's exactly what Gwion Edwards was as a Peterborough player.
The right-footed Welshman played much of his football at London Road on the left flank, cutting inside and offering a goal threat.
But he's played almost exclusively on the right for Ipswich, scoring six goals during his debut campaign at Portman Road.
Many would argue a combination of Edwards and Lankester on the flanks would be the best pairing available for Lambert right now.
Then there's Alan Judge.
He figures to be central to what the Blues are looking to achieve in the coming season, regardless of where he ends up playing.
He's most comfortable playing in a central midfield role, behind the strikers, but played the majority of his football on the left wing.
Asked about Judge's position last week, Lambert said: "I'll decide where I want to play Judgey, I know what he can do anywhere, and he can play anywhere across the front, or he can play in midfield."
We may have to wait for a first sighting of Judge in pre-season as he continues to rehab the broken wrist he suffered on international duty last month.
The former West Ham man toiled for long periods as a left winger under the management of Mick McCarthy, including long goalless spells as he struggled to make an impact from out wide.
But the early weeks of Lambert's management saw Sears reborn, offering a real threat as he burrowed his way to goal and linked up well with the Ipswich strikers.
He scored four goals in Lambert's first four games in charge but had his season cruelly ended in February as he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury at Norwich.
That will likely keep him out until November at the earliest, meaning Lambert may look at other options prior to his return.