Debuts, absences and plenty of questions to answer as Bolton visit winless Town
- Credit: ITFC
Ipswich Town return to action after the international break, with Bolton Wanderers the visitors. Andy Warren takes a look ahead to the action as the Blues search for their first win.
Is it time?
None of us expected Ipswich Town, the new-look Ipswich Town no less, to be winless by the middle of September.
But that’s exactly the position Paul Cook’s side find themselves in.
We’ve been used to lightning starts during the first two shots at League One promotion, with Paul Lambert’s sides securing 11 and then 13 points respectively during the first five matches of those seasons. They didn’t end well, of course.
Cook’s men are winless, on just three points at the same stage, but there is no sense of panic within the camp despite the slow start to proceedings.
We’ve seen plenty of positives during the opening month of the campaign but the reality is, football teams are judged on results.
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The Blues are already seven points off the top six and, though there is plenty of time to put that right and no alarm bells ringing, Cook’s men surely need to find the winning formula sooner rather than later.
Today would be a good time to do just that.
No time for excuses
“We’re disappointed at the minute,” Cook said of his side’s start.
“We’d have expected to have won more games. We thought we’d have won more games. We’ve been in winning positions in three of the five league games and haven’t seen that through. That’s been our naivety.
“The lads have worked extremely hard on the training ground over the last two weeks. There have been repetitive messages.
“Whilst I’m not looking for excuses – I’m not that type of manager, I never have been, I never will be – the brutal reality is we are going to take a little bit of time to get up to speed.
“I don’t want to be critical of anything we’ve done in the five games because when you’re brand new you do things that brand new teams do.
“We’ve scored some fantastic goals, at times we’ve been very pleasing on the eye but we’ve also made some ridiculous mistakes on the way.
It is time
Paul Cook hinted yesterday that he is set to hand a ‘couple’ of home debuts to players this weekend.
And, through a not particularly difficult process of elimination given Bersant Celina is not yet good to go and Sam Morsy is suspended, it’s pretty clear the Town boss is talking about George Edmundson and Christian Walton.
The latter looked to be Cook’s No.1 as soon he arrived on the penultimate day of a hectic transfer window, with Vaclav Hladky enduring something of a tough start to life as an Ipswich player. The change between the sticks looks set to be made at the first opportunity.
But a first appearance for Edmundson has been in the works for six weeks now, with the big defender sidelined through injury since his arrival at the club.
Cook took the time to discuss the former Rangers man’s leadership qualities during yesterday’s pre-match press conference and he looks set to come into the team in place of Luke Woolfenden and alongside Cameron Burgess.
That is perhaps a little harsh on Woolfenden, but it’s clear Edmundson was signed as a starter.
It will be good to see him out there as Cook’s preferred side continues to take shape.
It’s not quite time
Ipswich Town fans will have to wait for Bersant Celina’s second debut in blue and white.
The Kosovo international is ruled out of this game on medical grounds, with Cook yesterday admitting we won’t see the attacker until the visit to Lincoln (September 18) at the earliest.
Cook’s words paint a clear picture of just how excited he is to have the former Manchester City man in his arsenal but, at a time when Kyle Edwards is also out injured, he will have to do without him for now.
Such is the weaponry available to Cook, there are plenty of questions when it comes to team selection this weekend, even with the absences we already know about.
Assuming Walton and Edmundson start, a back five also including Burgess, Kane Vincent-Young and Hayden Coulson surely picks itself.
Then the questions start.
Cook’s already made it clear Lee Evans will captain the side this weekend, most-likely alongside Rekeem Harper once again, but is there an argument for Tom Carroll to come into the midfield and try to dictate play?
Morsy will be watching on and, when available for League One action when Doncaster visit on September 28, he will surely be a certain starter. That means Evans, Harper and Carroll are all auditioning for a supporting role.
Macauley Bonne, he of three goals in Ipswich blue and both goal and player of the month awards for August, is likely to return up front in place of Joe Pigott. But who starts behind him in the attacking three is unclear.
Wes Burns, Scott Fraser, Conor Chaplin, Sone Aluko and Louie Barry are the five men hoping for roles there, with the first three on the list the most likely starters.
We’ll find out come 2pm.
Cook proclaimed yesterday that this game has very little chance of ending in a goalless draw.
There’s evidence to support that, with Ian Evatt’s Bolton drawing 3-3 in their first two games of the season after returning to League One following promotion last season.
Ipswich have drawn all three of their Portman Road league games this season 2-2.
“I can’t see it being nil-nil again!” Cook said.
“Ian’s done amazingly well. I don’t think the promotion at Barrow got the credit it deserved. Barrow is a great football club, but it’s a tough outpost to attract players to.
“Ian won the league up there with a really good style of play and identity which he has carried into Bolton Wanderers. I was at the game Monday night and they were excellent against Burton (0-0 draw), really pleasing on the eye, and the stadium had a great atmosphere.
“Bolton are certainly on the way back to where they want to be. I think they’ll be a challenge for every team in this division.”