'The lads make it easy... I don't fear those decisions' - Cook on his selection headaches

Paul Cook has decisions to make in his Ipswich Town forward line

Paul Cook has decisions to make in his Ipswich Town forward line, with Bersant Celina, Sone Aluko, Wes Burns and Kyle Edwards all available to him - Credit: Pagepix/PA/Steve Waller

Paul Cook has selection headaches.  

But rather than being a cause for concern for the Ipswich Town manager, the decisions he has to make are positive ones. 

Cook has a wealth of options within his Town squad, following a radical summer overhaul that saw the vast majority of last season’s squad moved on and new signings arrive in their place. 

Arguably the biggest conundrum comes in the attacking three behind striker Macauley Bonne. There, Conor Chaplin, Wes Burns, Sone Aluko, Kyle Edwards, Scott Fraser, Bersant Celina and Louie Barry are all under consideration for just three starting spots. Rekeem Harper has also impressed from the bench lately, in a more advanced role. 

Conor Chaplin s after team-mate Macauley Bonne had scored to make it 2-1.

Conor Chaplin is making the Ipswich Town No.10 role his own - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

An impressive run has seen Chaplin appear to claim the No.10 role as his own, while Aluko has three goals in two games since replacing Burns, one of the standout performers of the season so far, on the right flank. 

Edwards replaced injury victim Fraser at Portsmouth on Tuesday, meaning Celina had to watch from the bench once again. But the urge to use such a talented player from the start of games can surely only be resisted for so long. 

Whether Cook plans changes for this weekend’s clash with Fleetwood remains to be seen, but these are decisions Cook feels privileged to have to make. 

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“Bersant was playing as a No.10 and Fraser was playing more off the left,” Cook said. 

“Since Bersant’s come out, Scott’s picked up a little injury which has taken him out the side. Chaplin went in for Bersant when he was on international duty and has been outstanding in the games. Tuesday was a good opportunity for Kyle Edwards to play. 

“At the minute, the lads are making the decisions easy for me. I don’t fear those decisions and I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do it. 

“All we want to do is win as a group of people, winning is the most important thing. If we are going to win as a team over the next 35 games, we’re going to need every single player at the club. 

“Whilst some lads might take the plaudits at the minute, the most important ones are the players who aren’t in the team. They’re the ones I need to keep happy and make sure they’re training hard, so when they come into the team they are ready to perform.” 

“We don’t expect lads to be happy to be out of the team, but we do expect them to work hard to get back into it. 

“Football has created a culture where lads show their unhappiness by sulking and not training hard, but that’s not the way forward here.” 

The above scenario is not playing out at Ipswich, though, with Cook impressed with how his players have reacted to missing out in games and pleased to see his squad coming together as a group. 

“If you were all in and around the place you would see them growing with their friendships and relationships, which is great for me to see,” Cook said. 

“I always enjoy watching my teams celebrate when they score and you can see what it means to them. I watched (Wes) Burns and (Janoi) Donacien shake hands after the game the other night, it’s lovely to see. You wouldn’t think Wes had been left out of the side. The lads are coming together exactly as I would want to see them, whether it’s going out for meals, socialising or anything. 

“One of the challenges for us, after assembling a very talented squad, was bringing the group together. Using Rotherham as an example, they a have been together for two or three years and they’re probably just ahead of us at the minute. 

“That doesn’t mean we can’t catch them in a race. We’ve lost the start, we get that, but this club will be here for a very, very long time and we need to impact the future in a very positive way. 

“The lads need time. For anyone who has lived in hotels and had to quickly find houses or move your family around, it’s not easy. All that’s gone now and the reality is we’re starting to get on our feet.” 

Paul Cook talking to the local Ipswich media after the 4-0 win at Portsmouth

Paul Cook is pleased to see partnerships emerging within his squad - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Cook is also pleased to see partnerships begin to emerge within his side. 

"Partnerships can only come with time and, unfortunately now in football, nobody wants to really give people time,” he said. 

“I find some of the stuff now with managers being sacked as ludicrous. That’s my opinion, but that’s the world we live in. 

“It’s great to see partnerships on the football pitch. Everyone around Ipswich will know about Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren, Russell Osman and Terry Butcher. Those partnerships develop and grow and when you have a good team you have to have a lot of them.  

“We’re trying to create that here.” 

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