‘It gives me a bit of food for thought’ - Hurst on his players’ versatility ahead of Barnet clash
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town play their third pre-season game of the summer this afternoon as they travel to The Hive to face Barnet. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the game.
Paul Hurst has another opportunity to assess his Ipswich Town squad this afternoon as the Blues head to North London to take on Barnet.
The new Ipswich Town boss pulled no punches following the disappointing pre-season defeat at Braintree a week ago, with Hurst insisting he expected ‘a lot, lot better’ following a game in which his side struggled to retain possession throughout.
He saw some improvement against Crawley on Tuesday, as he used a number of players in different roles, but still insists more needs to be done.
Martyn Waghorn has played both as a central striker and in more of a withdrawn forward role, Andre Dozzell has played as a No. 10 behind the striker and in a deeper midfield position and the likes of Cole Skuse, Grant Ward and Tristan Nydam have all occupied a variety of midfield roles.
Hurst’s experimentation is set to continue at The Hive this afternoon, with the new Blues boss keen to see what each and every one of his players is capable of.
“I think it gives me a bit of food for thought,” Hurst said, when asked if he expects his players to be versatile.
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“If you ask Andre (Dozzell) I would think, in the right team, he could play as a 10. I know he’s played quite deep for England and I’ve seen some of the clips where he is there, dictating play.
“There you have to be careful and ask ‘is he going to give you enough defensively’? That’s not through him not tackling or through his energy, but more through a little bit of knowhow.
“But he’s showed his passing range. (Against Crawley) Skusey was the holder, we flipped that round, with Tristan (Nydam) and Dozz in front. But at times they did all go deeper and get on the ball. I don’t mind that sometimes, but that’s something we did think about at half-time about not all of them ended up too deep because when the ball does go forward we want people in the box. So that’s probably one area where we can improve on.
“If it had been a league game (at Braintree) we would have been bitterly disappointed and would have expected changes. We can’t change too much because we haven’t really got the personnel at this moment in time.
“It’s nice we can, even with Josh (Emmanuel) coming on towards the end at left back, give Myles a little breather because with Jonas (Knudsen) away he’s the only real recognised left back we’ve got.”
Of Hurst’s three Ipswich Town signings this summer, two have been wingers.
Trevoh Chalobah is unlikely to be involved in any of the Blues’ pre-season games due to his participation in the European Under-19 Championship, leaving Jordan Roberts and Gwion Edwards as the two new signings on show at The Hive.
And Hurst wants to see his wide players get into the box and add to the Blues’ goal threat.
“I think with the wide players, especially when the ball is on the opposite side, we expect the wide men to make the box,” Hurst said.
“I think someone like Raheem Sterling at Manchester City, not so much at England as he played a different role, has spoken about Guardiola saying that.
“For me that’s not rocket science. If his winger is on one side crossing it and you’re stood on the other touchline, you’re not going to score a goal from there. So get in at the back post.
“We always expect at least one midfielder in there and we don’t want everyone sat behind the ball because if you’ve only got one or two men in there you aren’t going to get many chances.”
The clash with National League side Barnet will be the first time Bartosz Bialkowski has appeared for the Blues since putting pen-to-paper on a new contract, keeping him at the club until at least the summer of 2021.
He is likely to split playing time with back-up goalkeeper Dean Gerken, who has performed well in his two pre-season outings to date, while Waghorn is also in the squad despite being linked with a move away from Portman Road this summer.
Joe Garner has yet to be involved during pre-season as he battles with a knee injury and is unlikely to play against Barnet, while Tom Adeyemi was due to return to training on Thursday having struggled with an Achilles problem.
Midfielders Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop are both likely to be absent once again as they are nursed back to full fitness following knee and hamstring problems, with a target of them playing at the tail-end of pre-season, while Jonas Knudsen is due to return to the club next week following his participation at the World Cup with Denmark.