Call upon Coulson? Freeing up Fraser. And don't let Twine shoot!
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town take on MK Dons at Portman Road in a League One clash this afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the action.
Can Ipswich Town get that monkey off their backs and register the so far elusive first win of the season?
The Blues have dominated large periods of play against Morecambe, Newport, Burton and Cheltenham, but a combination of individual defensive errors and some big missed chances means current form reads DLLL.
Luke Woolfenden's error on the opening day, Scott Fraser's failure to convert a penalty at The Pirelli Stadium and Macauley Bonne's inexplicable miss at Cheltenham means it's been a been a coulda, woulda, shoulda start.
The quicker performances are backed up by points the better.
BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
- 1 Film crews shooting new Netflix film in Suffolk village
- 2 Suffolk-based former Marine found dead after 10-month disappearance
- 3 Two mega prisons for 3,500 inmates set to be built near RAF base
- 4 Overturned trailer causing delays on roundabout near Bury St Edmunds
- 5 Five people injured in 'violent disorder' at Newmarket racecourse
- 6 Delays on Orwell Bridge near Ipswich
- 7 Air ambulance called to incident on Bury St Edmunds estate
- 8 Rovers bottom, Town starting to click, key men back... is this the night?
- 9 Town sign 6ft 5ins striker as Nsiala, Jackson and Barry all start for U23s
- 10 Tankers on their way to Suffolk as the government unveils action plan
After an impressive looking summer transfer window, MK Dons' preparations were throw into disarray when manager Russell Martin was poached by Championship club Swansea City less than a week before their League One opener.
His leftfield replacement is someone Ipswich fans might know about - but not many others will.
Liam Manning was released by the Blues as a teenager. He played in Iceland for a bit, returned to start his coaching journey at Playford Road and went on to have jobs at West Ham (U23s), New York City (academy director) and, most recently, Belgian second-tier side Lommel (manager).
The 35-year-old has appointed former Ipswich U23s coach Chris Hogg (from Newcastle U23s) as his assistant and former Town defender David Wright (from Norwich U23s) as a first team coach.
On the pitch there will be a familiar face too. Troy Parrott scored two goals in 18 games for Town during a loan spell last season. With Tottenham having now lent him to MK Dons, the young Irish striker returns to Portman Road having scored two in two.
Ipswich played out six drab goalless draws in their final 11 matches of last season, prompting Paul Cook to rip up the squad and start again.
His new-look outfit has certainly been more entertaining to watch. And everything about today's game suggests there will be goals.
Neither team has kept a clean sheet so far.
There have been 17 scored across MK Dons' opening four games - a 5-0 loss at Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, a 3-3 draw at Bolton, a 2-1 home loss to Sunderland and a 2-1 home win against Charlton.
Their front three - Scott Twine in behind Mo Eisa and Parrott - look good for this level. As Ipswich found back in January, when Swindon left Suffolk with a win, you certainly don't give Twine time and space to shoot from range.
Meanwhile, Town have drawn 2-2 with Morecambe, lost 1-0 to Newport (having produced 25 shots on goal) and lost 2-1 to both Burton and Cheltenham. There's a feeling this squad packed with exciting players could click at any moment.
"I don't think it will be nil-nil," said Cook. "It expect it to be a really good spectacle - two teams intent on scoring goals and playing progressive football."
CALL UPON COULSON?
Paul Cook has already used 26 different players so far, handing out 15 debuts.
There have been 17 different starters in the league, a further six in the Carabao Cup, plus an additional three who have been used as a sub only.
Luke Woolfenden is the only player to have started every game, with Vaclav Hladky, Matt Penney, Lee Evans, Rekeem Harper, Scott Fraser and Joe Pigott the six others to have started all three league games.
The central midfield partnership of Harper and Evans is the only one that has had any chance to gel.
So what will Cook do today?
There's every chance he freshens up both full-back positions following Tuesday night's game at Cheltenham.
A rested Kane Vincent-Young could replace Janoi Donacien on the right, while Hayden Coulson may make his debut on the left. The Middlesbrough loanee had Covid towards the back end of pre-season, but was named amongst the subs in midweek.
Those two are both attack-minded and could create some dangerous overloads against MK Dons' wing-backs.
Burgess and Woolfenden will get another game at the heart of defence given George Edmundson and Toto Nsiala remain sidelined, while Harper and Evans will probably continue in the middle (though they do now have Tom Carroll breathing down their necks).
Kyle Edwards has looked a real talent on the left during his first two games in a Town shirt. Supporters will certainly be hoping he's not the mystery player that Cook has said will miss out through illness.
Beyond him, it's hard to predict what Cook will do with the rest of his attacking unit.
Will Pigott and Macauley Bonne get another shot at forging a more traditional front two? Will the elegant Scott Fraser finally be used in his favoured No.10 role against his former club? And if Bonne is dropped, who gets the nod out of Louie Barry and Armando Dobra? We'll find out at 2pm.
With the likes of Jon Nolan, Wes Burns, Sone Aluko, Conor Chaplin and James Norwood also injured, someone like Idris El Mizouni will be required in the 18.