Town have 27 first teamers available... And Taylor hints at the return of squad rotation
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town assistant boss Stuart Taylor says the return of squad rotation could be necessary to deal with the hectic fixture schedule ahead.
Paul Lambert chopped and changed both personnel and systems in 2019/20, his side losing momentum after a flying start to end up in a bitterly disappointing 11th place.
The Blues boss always insisted such rotation was necessary given the potential to play 60 games. This time last year, he said: "How can you ask a 33/34-year-old guy to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday? They're dead before Christmas. It's dangerous for them."
There was a major u-turn on that attitude following an end of season discussion with owner Marcus Evans though and, at the start of this campaign, Lambert claimed that players would now keep the shirt and 'become robust' if they play well.
Whether that will continue to be the case remains to be seen given the hectic schedule ahead. Following four Covid-19 related postponements over the festive period, the Blues are about to squeeze 26 games (involving 4,200 miles of travel) into 106 days of relentless football action. From next week onwards they will have a succession of Tuesday night matches, including long midweek trips to Hull, Accrington and Fleetwood.
Lambert's options have recently been boosted by the return to fitness of Flynn Downes, Jon Nolan, Teddy Bishop, Gwion Edwards and James Norwood, plus the loan additions of attacking duo Luke Thomas and Josh Harrop. Going into Saturday's home game with Peterborough, he has 27 first team players to select from.
“The more players that are available for selection, the better," said Taylor. "Dare I say it, there might need to be a little bit of rotating in that squad. I don’t know because I’m not the manager, but certainly I believe that’s something that we need to look at because to ask lads to go and play Saturday-Tuesday for eight weeks back-to-back...
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“You know exactly what it’s like to go and do it two weeks back-to-back let alone doing it after eight, so we definitely need to have everybody fit and available and ready to go.”
In addition to the players back from injury and potential new signings, the Blues have midfielder Idris El Mizouni back from a loan spell at Cambridge United too.
“Everybody comes into contention, even the kids that have come up previously,” Taylor added. “We try and keep them in and about the squad, training and giving them that experience.
“Idris has come back from his loan spell, the manager will have a look at him over the next two, three, four weeks and see what’s right for his development, along with a couple of other lads.
“But it is important that we keep everybody fit because it’s going to be a really gruelling fixture list over the next couple of months.”
IPSWICH TOWN SQUAD
Holy, Cornell; Chambers, Donacien, Woolfenden, Nsiala, McGuinness, Ward, Kenlock; Dozzell, Downes, Bishop, Nolan, Huws, McGavin, Harrop, Judge, Edwards, Thomas, Sears, Lankester, Dobra, El Mizouni, Norwood, Jackson, Hawkins, Drinan.
Currently injured: Vincent-Young, Wilson, Skuse, Bennetts.
IPSWICH TOWN'S SCHEDULE
*The trip to AFC Wimbledon (originally set for Dec 29 and then moved to Feb 2) will have to rescheduled again after the London club booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Papa John's Trophy.
Sat 23: Peterborough (h)
Tues 26: Sunderland (h)
Sat 30: Crewe (a)
Tues 2: BLANK
Sat 6: Blackpool (h)
Tues 9: Peterborough (a)
Sat 13: Shrewsbury (a)
Tues 16: Northampton (h) (EFL Trophy SFs)
Sat 20: Oxford Utd (h)
Tues 23: Hull (a)
Sat 27: Doncaster (h)
Tues 2: Accrington (a)
Sat 6: Gillingham (a)
Tues 9: Lincoln (h)
Sat 13: Plymouth (h)
Tues 16: Fleetwood (a)
Sat 20: Portsmouth (a)
Tues 23: BLANK
Fri 2: Bristol R (h)
Mon 5: Rochdale (a)
Sat 10: MK Dons (h)
Tues 13: BLANK
Sat 17: Charlton (a)
Tues 20: Northampton (a)
Sat 24: AFC Wimbledon (h)
Tues 27: BLANK
Sat 1: Swindon (a)
Tues 4: BLANK
Sat 8: Fleetwood (h)
* League One PO Final scheduled for 29/31 May