Personnel, formations and the men in the middle - the questions to be answered at Braintree
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town begin their pre-season schedule at Braintree today. Andy Warren looks at the questions needing answers as the Blues head to Cressing Road.
Who will we see?
We already know both Bartosz Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen remain on extended leave following their World Cup exploits with Poland and Denmark respectively, with the duo set to return to the club next week.
The majority of the squad played in the behind-closed-doors victory over Kilmarnock during last week’s Spanish training camp and are set to be involved again, with wholesale changes likely at the interval against the National League side.
Andre Dozzell played 45-minutes in the Kilmarnock win, in which Joe Garner scored the winning goal, and will be given further minutes as he continues his comeback from a knee injury suffered on the opening day of last season. Tom Adeyemi, who was restricted to just five appearances during his debut Ipswich season, is also likely to play but Garner could miss out with a knock..
Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop were both part of the training camp but did not play in the friendly game, with the Blues planning on introducing them back into the side in the latter games of pre-season.
Danny Rowe did not travel with the squad to Spain as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury which ended his loan spell at Lincoln at the back end of last season. He is unlikely to be involved.
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There is no Trevoh Chalobah, either, with the Chelsea youngster likely to miss the majority of the Blues’ pre-season schedule after being called up by England Under 19s for the European Championships.
There is a question mark over almost every member of the Ipswich squad as they begin life under Hurst, with the new manager insisting each and every player starts with a clean slate.
Nailed on starters under Mick McCarthy, such as Cole Skuse and Luke Chambers, will need to prove their worth all over again while the likes of Freddie Sears and Grant Ward will be hoping to prove they are worthy of increased game-time under their new boss.
But where the Ipswich players fit in will, in part, be down to what system Hurst wants to play.
His Shrewsbury side, which reached last season’s League One play-off final against the odds, primarily utilised a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 system which made use of a loan striker, an attacking midfielder pulling the strings with a winger on either side.
He was flexible, though, often switching to a more solid 4-1-41 set-up in tight games.
The most intriguing area of the pitch is in the centre of midfield where, when fit, Hurst has the option to call upon Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell, Tristan Nydam, Flynn Downes and Tom Adeyemi. Some tough choices to be made there as he bids to get the most out of his engine room.
You also get the impression the strike trio of Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and Freddie Sears would all be more comfortable playing alongside a partner up top, rather than being left to toil alone.
The game at Cressing Road is a chance for Hurst to experiment with personnel and system alike but, after we get our first glimpse of the new era, the answers to a number of these questions will be a lot clearer.
Who are Town’s men in the middle?
As things stand, captain Luke Chambers is the only senior central defender on the Ipswich books as we head towards the new season.
While new signings are certainly likely before the start of the campaign, Hurst does have a number of options within his squad.
Knudsen and Jordan Spence both proved themselves to be capable deputies when switched from full-back when needed last season, while Chelsea loanee Chalobah has played most of his football as a centre-half.
Chalobah’s involvement with England has complicated matters somewhat, although his absence may mean talented youngster Luke Woolfenden is given more of a chance to impress before the real football starts on August 4.
A first look at Roberts
The only new signing on show will be Jordan Roberts, signed on a free transfer after leaving Crawley Town.
Hurst quickly highlighted the need for wingers in a squad he described as ‘unbalanced’ at his unveiling in June, with further additions likely between now and August 9.
First impressions of Roberts suggest he looks to be positive in possession, run at his man and deliver accurate crosses for his forwards to feed off, but it will be interesting to see him in an Ipswich shirt for the first time.
Next up for him is a game with his former club on Tuesday.