The Norwood factor, Vincent-Young’s waiting game and embracing a long-awaited occasion - talking points as Town host Wycombe

James Norwood could return from injury this evening against Wycombe. Photo: ROSS HALLS

James Norwood could return from injury this evening against Wycombe. Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town are in League One action this evening when leaders Wycombe visit Portman Road. Andy Warren looks ahead to the game at Portman Road.

Manager Paul Lambert has played down the importance of tonight's game.
Picture: Steve Waller ww

Manager Paul Lambert has played down the importance of tonight's game. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

We've waited a long time for occasions like this at Portman Road.

Granted it's the third tier and, with the greatest of respect, a game with Wycombe doesn't compare to battles past against promotion rivals as Ipswich fought for a place in the Premier League, but first-v-second under the Portman Road lights is a rare and special treat.

Darren Bent's dramatic late goal beat Wigan which sent Ipswich above the Latics to the top the Championship in December 2004 quickly comes to mind. The atmosphere was electric.

The win felt like a real statement at the time (although Ipswich did ultimately fail to get promoted) and a success over the surprise pace-setters can be the same nearly 15 years on. It would settle a few nerves, too.

Darren Bent scored a dramatic late winner against Wigan to send Ipswich top of the Championship in D

Darren Bent scored a dramatic late winner against Wigan to send Ipswich top of the Championship in December 2004. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

A win will take Ipswich to within two points of the Chairboys with two games in hand while defeat will increase the gap to eight. It would also extend the lead over hard-charging Peterborough to six, too, with Ipswich still holding a game in hand over the team in third following tomorrow night's match.

Manager Paul Lambert may be trying to play it down but the stakes are high, a big crowd is expected and, after years of mid-table mediocrity this is an occasion to be relished.

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The Norwood factor

Ipswich Town missed James Norwood at the weekend.

For all Kayden Jackson's running during a good display from the striker, which saw him move into the channels well and attempt to hold the ball up for an advancing midfield, he certainly would have benefited from having his physical partner alongside him.

The team would have benefited, too. They missed their focal point, the battling qualities and his work rate.

It's entirely possible he could return this evening after Lambert revealed his forward missed the Blackpool game due a nagging, unspecified, injury which reduced his ability to train in the lead-up.

He's on four bookings for the season so it's entirely possible his suspension tightrope and a minor injury combined to produce a school of thought it would be best to leave him out in favour of playing tonight's game.

Luke Garbutt celebrates his equalising penalty during Town's 2-2 draw with Blackpool at Portman Road

Luke Garbutt celebrates his equalising penalty during Town's 2-2 draw with Blackpool at Portman Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Hopefully he returns with a bang this evening.

Another potentially in line for a start is Alan Judge who, after scoring the winner at Lincoln in the FA Cup, played just the final five minutes against Blackpool.

He's growing in confidence and his performances are improving. Big games need big game players and this could be his time to show a home crowd what he can do.

Straight back in?

Kane Vincent-Young is out for a prolonged period. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Kane Vincent-Young is out for a prolonged period. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

It was decided Saturday's game came too early for Kane Vincent-Young, with the right-back looking to make a return after having minor groin surgery.

While he could well be fit to play this evening, it's by no means certain he will walk straight back into the side at right-back, given the form of Janoi Donacien.

That equation seemed unlikely just a few short weeks ago but Donacien has impressed during a four-game run in the side which has made him a poster boy for Lambert's rotation policy.

That form makes waiting for Vincent-Young to be full recovered a lot more palatable and, while the former Colchester man will surely return in the fullness of time and has attacking qualities Donacien can't replicate, the latter certainly doesn't deserve to be left out.

Adebayo Akinfenwa is a striker like no other. Picture: PA

Adebayo Akinfenwa is a striker like no other. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Taming the beast

Adebayo Akinfenwa is one-of-a-kind.

He's played at Portman Road once before, as Swansea lost 1-0 in the FA Cup in Suffolk back in 2007, but looked a little different back then.

The Wycombe striker's always been a big boy, but in the last few years the 37-year-old has taken that to the next level as he's upped his game in the gym and has reaped the rewards both on and off the pitch.

He stands 5ft 11inch, weighs 16 stone, can bench press 28 stone and is rated as the strongest player in world football by the FIFA computer game series.

He is the owner of the Beast Mode clothing label and is regularly mistaken for an NFL lineman or strongman competitor.

But he's a good footballer too and has scored more than 200 goals during a career which has seen him turn out for Torquay, Swansea, Northampton, Gillingham and Wimbledon before his move to Wycombe in 2016.

He's netted six this season and will present the Ipswich defence with a challenge like none they've faced before this season.

It will be fascinating (and perhaps game-defining) to see how Luke Chambers & Co stand up to that test.

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