Record-breaking U's, big decisions and leaving out a loanee - Town v Oxford talking points

Ipswich Manager Paul Lambert is well covered up at Crewe Alexandra. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert is under heavy pressure as his side face red-hot Oxford United this weekend - Credit: Pagepix Limited

Ipswich Town host Oxford United today (3pm ko). Mark Heath takes a look at the key talking points surrounding the game...

Red hot U's

With Town on such a miserable run, the last thing they need now is to welcome a team who are bang in form.

Oxford are that side - top of the League One form table over the past six games with five wins and a single defeat (3-2 at fellow promotion chasers Doncaster), and having recently set a new club record with nine straight victories.

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson. Picture STEVE WALLER

Karl Robinson's Oxford are top of the League One form table - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich, in contrast, are down in 18th in that form table. These two sides may have drawn 0-0 at Oxford back on December 1, but make no mistake - this is a very different Oxford outfit now.

A glance at the all-time record doesn't make happy reading either - Town have neither beaten Oxford nor scored against them this century, a run of three games.

The last time they did either of the above against the U's was in a 2-1 win on February 20, 1999.

Keanan Bennetts has a shot blocked at Oxford United Picture Pagepix Ltd

Town drew 0-0 at Oxford back on December 1 - Ipswich haven't scored against the U's this century - Credit: Pagepix

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Another chance

Of course, Town can't play a game against one of the division's top sides without mention of their abysmal record against said top sides.

In case you need reminding, the Blues have lost all nine of their games against the top seven sides in League One - not a single point has been plundered.

Now, Oxford are currently eighth, so not technically a top seven side - but there's no doubt that a Town win, or even a draw, would be seen as evidence that perhaps they can live with the best teams in the third tier.

Luke Chambers watching the game.

Will skipper Luke Chambers be recalled to the starting XI against Oxford? - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Big decisions

Boss Paul Lambert has some big calls to make on team selection. Having dropped youthful full-backs Luke Matheson and Myles Kenlock for the defeat at Peterborough, he brought them back for the terrible 0-0 draw with Northampton in midweek.

So, does he stick with them again, or recall old warhorses Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward to the starting 11? Could he keep faith with Matheson at right back and move skipper Chambers inside, his more natural position, to team him with either Luke Woolfenden or Mark McGuiness?

Elsewhere, Lambert could also look at starting with James Norwood and Alan Judge - two players who made a difference off the bench in that dire midweek draw.

Norwood, however, would likely be limited to 60 minutes or less as he continues to recover from injury.

Winger Keanan Bennetts, now fit again and available for selection, could also offer something different. Which brings us to...

Keanan Bennetts pulled up and needed treatment in the first half, before being replaced by Armando D

Loanee Keanan Bennetts is fit and available again - but only five of the six loan players can be involved - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Leaving out a loanee

For the first time since the transfer window slammed shut, all of Town's six loan players are fit and ready to play.

With only five allowed in your matchday squad though, that means one will have to be left out.

Mark McGuiness, Luke Matheson, the aforementioned Bennetts, Josh Harrop, Luke Thomas and Troy Parrott are the six who will have to be cut to five.

You'd think Bennetts would be the odd man out - but who knows?

Kayden Jackson and Jon Nolan have been training with Ipswich Town's Under 23s

Kayden Jackson, left, and Jon Nolan have been exiled from the Town first team squad - Credit: Steve Waller

Out in the cold

Two players who certainly won't be involved are striker Kayden Jackson - last season's joint top scorer - and midfielder Jon Nolan, joint-second in the scoring charts this campaign.

As we revealed earlier this week, both have been exiled from the first team and are training with Kieron Dyer's Under 23 side.

Lambert confirmed that yesterday, saying 'they've let the club down.'

One can only wonder what effect such treatment of two senior players will have on the morale of the rest of the squad.


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