Meet Burton: Transfer turmoil, an ex-Canary striker and a £13.5m man
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town host Burton Albion in a key League One clash at Portman Road this afternoon (3pm). Mark Heath casts an eye over the Brewers...
Story so far
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink saved the Brewers from what looked like certain relegation when he returned for a second stint at the club on New Year's Day 2021.
Starting eight points adrift of safety, Hasselbaink oversaw a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, guiding Burton to a comfortable 16th-place finish.
This season, the Brewers are a mid-table side - and that's pretty much what fans expected.
They sit 12th with 14 games left, having won 12, lost 13 and drawn seven of their 32 matches to date. They've scored 41 goals and conceded 41, giving them a very much middle of the road feeling.
The Brewers play a direct brand of football, aiming to cause chaos in the back-line of their opposition by putting them under as much pressure as possible.
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They're also a bit Jekyll and Hyde, capable of producing some notable wins - as in midweek against Bolton - but also suffer through games where they totally fail to get going.
They beat Town 2-1 at home earlier this season of course, so are looking to do the double today. But much has changed since then...
While Ipswich Town have certainly had eventful recent transfer windows, Burton also went through big changes in January.
They lost three of their top scorers - Daniel Jebbison, who led the side with eight goals, was recalled from his loan by parent club Sheffield United, while Tom O'Connor (five) dropped into non-league with Wrexham and Kane Hemmings (four) headed to Tranmere.
Lucas Akins (three) opted for a reunion with Nigel Clough at Mansfield, while Michael Bostwick (Stevenage) and Kieran Wallace (Mansfield) also departed, as did Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Barrow, loan), Bryn Morris (Hartlepool, loan) and keeper Kieran O'Hara (Fleetwood).
In their place, the Brewers have added defender William Kokolo (Middlesbrough, loan), strikers Gassan Ahadme (Norwich) and Christian Saydee (Bournemouth, loan), plus keeper Matej Kovar (Man City, loan).
Hasselbaink also re-signed defender Sam Hughes from Leicester City, plus brought back midfielder Harry Chapman from Blackburn.
To cap it all off, they signed former £13.5m striker Oumar Niasse on Thursday night as a free agent, bringing in a man who played for Everton in the Premier League.
Hasselbaink on Niasse
The Brewers' boss said capturing Niasse was 'exciting' for the club, and a boost for their young players.
He added: "He has got some great experience under his belt; it is very exciting for the club to have him here.
“He is only 31, he still looks fit in training. We need to get him match fit again, but it is only games and training hard that will get him used to that.
‘We have lots of young players in the team, and if you have players with a little more experience, it allows the young players to accelerate progression. He is a good lad and he has shown us that he still has hunger for the game.
“He wants to play, he wants to come and help us - so let’s see how it goes.”
As well as their direct play, Burton will ask questions of Town from set-pieces today.
Defender Tom Hamer, playing as a wing-back in Hasselbaink's 3-4-1-2 system, has a prodigious long throw and will be looking to launch it into the box from anywhere within the Town half.
And midfielder Joe Powell boasts the proverbial wand of a left foot. He'll be dangerous from free-kicks, having had a hand in two of the Brewers' goals in that 3-1 win over in-form Bolton on Tuesday night.
Hasselbaink on Town
The Burton boss certainly has a lot of respect for the Blues ahead of this clash - not that he'll be rolling over at Portman Road.
“We are going to a very big club with a big history" he said. "They are a good team and it is going to be a test for us, but we won’t shy away from that.
“Tuesday’s game is now in the past, but we have to try and replicate that and more from now on. It will be a totally different match, but the fundamentals stay the same.
“In football, if you don’t do the work you, can be punished. So we have to put it in and be prepared to start that process again on Saturday.”