To play or not to play, that is the question - Should Lambert trust his weakened squad or postpone Wycombe clash?
- Credit: Archant
To play or not to play, that is the question.
Ipswich Town's planned clash with Wycombe on October 12 could be postponed due to international call-ups, just as the scheduled-clash with Rochdale was at the start of September.
Alan Judge (Republic of Ireland), Anthony Georgiou (Cyprus), Andre Dozzell (England Under 20s), Idris El Mizouni (Tunisia Under 23s) and Armando Dobra (Albania Under 19s) were all called up in the last window and are likely to be again, while Flynn Downes could potentially join Dozzell on England duty.
League One clubs can postpone games if they are without three players due to call-ups, so should the Blues take that option?
Stuart and Andy Warren take up the debate.
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POSTPONE - Andy Warren
My take on this issue goes back to Town's approach to this season in general.
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There's been a bullishness and a 'slight arrogance' (to quote James Norwood) surrounding the size of the club and the talent assembled within the squad as they battle for promotion, and that's been great to hear. Nothing wrong with confidence.
But underpinning Ipswich's success this season has been an acceptance and ownership of their position, respect for the division they're in and a desire to be the best team in the league each and every week.
MORE: 'He's a little magician with the ball... he's that good' - Jackson hails Town team-mate JudgeAs things stand, Ipswich v Wycombe would be a battle between the top two in League One, so why would you want to go into that game with a weakened team if you didn't have to?
There's a healthy arrogance in the camp at the moment, but thinking you can win regardless of the team you field would border on unhealthy.
Yes, of those called up during the last window only Judge started on Saturday against Tranmere. But who replaces the Irishman, given potential No.10s Dozzell and El Mizouni would also be absent? Jon Nolan could play there of course, no problem there, but what if he then takes a whack in training the day before the Wycombe game?
Ipswich aren't at the stage where they can guarantee Emyr Huws is good to play 90 minutes in such a vital position and Will Keane is still struggling with injury.
Lambert sees Georgiou as a good bench option and, with Dobra also away, the Scot would be lacking a winger in that mould too if he needs a spark to try and change the game.
Nolan's pretty central to all of this in my opinion. Given all five of those expected to be called up are 'creative' players, their absence would place far too much responsibility on his shoulders in the middle of the pitch. I'd almost be scared to send him out to train in the lead-up in case he was injured. Huws is likely to start the EFL Trophy game with Gillingham, just a few days prior to the planned Wycombe match, so would he be capable of doing so again at the weekend if required?
MORE: North Stander: 'The table doesn't lie, we are the best team in League One'If Flynn Downes were to receive an England Under 20 call then this debate would surely be a foregone conclusion, given the ever-present midfielder's importance this season.
Ipswich are in the position they're in right now not because they're a well-oiled machine, sweeping all before them, but because Lambert has been able to chop and change personnel and system almost seamlessly. Replacing quality with quality. Robbing himself of that luxury would be akin to neutralising his own strengths right now and would be too much of a risk to take.
Postpone and allow a fully-tooled squad to face the challenge further down the line.
PLAY IT! - Stuart Watson
For me, it's a simple case of risk management.
The risks of playing Wycombe on the international weekend: Town drop points and are left to rue what could have been with increased options. They are labelled arrogant and complacent.
The thing is, who are we actually talking about missing here?
Alan Judge - let's be honest, he's yet to fully hit top form this season.
Andre Dozzell - he's been on the pitch for 136 of the 900 minutes played in the league thus far.
Anthony Georgiou - five sub appearances in seven games (Luke Garbutt and Gwion Edwards have both started at left wing-back ahead of him of late).
Armando Dobra and Idris El Mizouni - neither have been in the match day squads for the last three games.
MORE: Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: I'm in love with the shape of you... Looking good in a 3-5-2What's the point in having a squad of 42 professionally contracted players (28 of whom would be available for selection as it stands) if you're not going to utilise it in moments like these?
If you wanted to adapt the team from Saturday, push Nolan into the No.10 slot, move Cole Skuse into midfield and play Luke Woolfenden at the back.
You could still name a bench of Norris, Nsiala, Edwards, Rowe, Huws, Roberts and Keane (who will hopefully be fit by then) and still have Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock sat in the stands.
Hardly 'weak' is it? And with Lambert operating the squad rotation policy, it's not as if you'd be asking anyone to come in cold.
Then let's consider the risk of playing this game at a later date (the bit that's often overlooked).
Firstly, the potential to lose current momentum. Secondly, financial, as a midweek crowd is always smaller than a weekend one. Both, I admit, are minor issues.
My biggest worry is that there aren't many free slots to rearrange this game. In fact, Tuesday, October 29 looks about the only place in the calendar it could go. A few days after a short trip to Southend followed by a free weekend (when Town had been due to play Bury).
MORE: Ipswich Town are top... And Marcus Evans is posing for pictures with fansPerfect, I hear you say. Six games in the space of 33 days - one every six days - would certainly be fine. But if Town win their FA Cup first round tie on November 9 (or lose a replay) then it would become a game every five days.
Should they win a first round replay it would become a game every four days and a midweek game for five weeks running. Think of all the lost hours on the training pitch.
In summary, just play the Wycombe game.