MATCH PREVIEW: Jewell – Bristol Rovers clash can give us ‘winning mentality’ ahead of Championship tilt
Ipswich v Bristol Rovers: Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Ipswich Town’s fantastic start to last season – beating Bristol City 3-0 to top the Championship on the opening day – had some of the gloss taken off it by losing to League Two Northampton in the then-Carling Cup first round just three days later.
Paul Jewell opted to play his second string at Portman Road, and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas apart, they failed their audition.
That shock defeat was followed by heavy losses to Southampton and Peterborough – prompting the Blues boss to later admit he got it wrong.
Tonight, as the competition becomes the Capital One Cup and another League Two side – Bristol Rovers – arrives at Portman Road, Jewell will prove he has learned from his mistakes.
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In truth, he has little choice with a skeleton squad missing international trio Damien Delaney, Josh Carson, Ronan Murray and the injured Andy Drury.
But with the competition strangely kicking off before the actual league season, Jewell knows that an impressive performance can be morale-boosting for all concerned.
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He said: “It is not an ideal time but I am looking forward to the game.
“We will be playing our strongest available team. It is not going to be a team that is rested – we cannot afford it.
“We are stretched to the bare bones but we want to win the game and progress and we want to take that winning mentality into Saturday.”
The bench could contain four youngsters with only Arran Lee-Barrett, Jason Scotland and Nathan Ellington likely to bring some much-needed experience to the reserves.
But Jewell’s starting line-up should be strong and could actually be the same 11 who take to the field against Blackburn on Saturday.
With Carson missing, Jewell could be tempted to go for a 4-4-2 which would bring Scotland off the bench and push Lee Martin on the left wing.
But the smart money is on him keeping his current preferred 4-2-3-1 system with the former Manchester United man operating behind Michael Chopra.
With Scott Loach, Luke Chambers and Massimo Luongo set for their competitive debuts in a Town shirt, the big question is over who will fill the attacking left-hand-side role.
The smart money has to be on Ryan Stevenson although Jewell will be pondering throwing 16-year-old Byron Lawrence into his own full debut – even though he was loath to talk about the youngster at yesterday’s press conference.
One fit player unlikely to be included in the 18-man bench is Jaime Peters with the Town boss revealing yesterday that “one or two clubs” are showing interest in the utility man who has been told he can leave Ipswich.
Jack Ainsley and Joe Whight are virtual certainties among the substitutes while Jewell did admit Cormac Burke and Gunnar Thorsteinsson are others under consideration.
The manager said: “We will have kids on the bench who are not quite ready, but we have no choice but to give them a go.
“I’m just hoping the game doesn’t go into extra-time because it will be past the bedtime of a few of our younger players.”
- Follow @davegoods and @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for all the latest team news, reports and reaction from tonight’s cup clash at Portman Road (7.45pm ko)