Crewe among League One promotion contenders, says Lambert
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says you can't rule Crewe Alexandra out of the League One promotion race.
The Blues head to Gresty Road tomorrow to take on the Railwaymen in a ninth versus 10th League One clash.
Denied the League Two title on PPG following last season's curtailment, the Cheshire outfit have taken to life in the third-tier well.
David Artell's side impressed in the reverse fixture at Portman Road at the end of October, Ipswich fortunate to win 1-0 courtesy of Oli Hawkins' header, and have since risen up the table.
Their 10-game league unbeaten run (W5 D5) came to an end on Tuesday night with a 4-1 defeat at Gillingham and it remains to be seen if they can last the pace given influential captain Perry Ng has recently signed for Cardiff and fellow defender Harry Pickering also looks set for a Championship move before Monday's transfer deadline.
"They were the better team at our place and I said that after the game," said Lambert. "We were so fortunate, especially after that first half. We had the break that day, but we've had breaks go against us in the last few games too. The breaks even themselves out.
"A lot of their young ones have played maybe 50/100 games. Ours is less than that. They've got a really good model on that front. It's a tough game. Okay they lost heavily Tuesday night when Gillingham played well.
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"We'll go there with the same game plan. We go and try and win. We won't sit back and try anything differently. We'll try our best to win."
Asked if Crewe should be considered promotion contenders, Lambert replied: "Well they're up there. I think any team can go on a great run and go and get in the top six or the automatics because there is still more than half a season to go.
"Would you rule them out? No, you wouldn't.
"Their results have suggested they are a good side. They are a good football side with good players. They've always produced good players Crewe going way back."
Ipswich have slipped to 10th in the standings after claiming just 19 points from their last 16 games (W6 D1 L9), though they do have at least one game in hand on seven of the sides above them.
"There's still more than half the season to go, still a hell of a lot of football to be played and there are going to be a lot of twists and turns," said Lambert, whose appalling record against League One's leading lights continued with 1-0 home defeats to Peterborough and Sunderland last Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
"We have to try and put a run on and make sure we are always around about that mark to get out of the league. It's not a given. You have to work your backside off.
"There is more than half the season to go. Anything could happen, absolutely anything could happen. You could go on an incredible run. I've seen it before. You never write anything off. You keep going and try to pick up as many points as you can."