'They could play for a hell of a lot more years... but time will always catch you' - Lambert discusses futures of Chambers and Skuse
PUBLISHED: 15:43 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:39 21 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says experienced duo Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse both have big roles to play for the club going forwards.
Both players have been virtual ever-presents for the club since joining on Bosman free transfers from Nottingham Forest (2012) and Bristol City (2013) respectively.
Indeed, prior to last week, there had been only one occasion where neither had started a league game in almost six years.
Injury and illness kept the duo out of the home games against Derby and Stoke though and, in their absence, a young side secured 1-1 draws against big budget opposition.
Best friends off the field – Skuse was best man at Chambers’ wedding in 2015 – the duo will both be 33 at the start of next season.
Skuse is contracted until 2020, while Chambers is due to be out of contract this summer, though the club do have the option to extend that deal by a further 12 months.
Chambers has said that, if the rock-bottom Blues do get relegated to League One, he wants to be the man who leads them back to the Championship.
On the skipper’s contract situation, Lambert said: “We’ve spoken about it and (owner) Marcus (Evans) is going to speak to Luke as well, which is good.
“Luke knows everything that’s going on, I know most of what’s going on and Marcus and Lee (O’Neill, general manager football operations) know.
“I know they’ve had discussion of what’s going on moving forward, which is good.”
Lambert went on to say that the duo’s roles are ‘paramount’ going forwards.
“You have to have that experience around the club,” he said. “I can’t think of two more lads who I’d want around the place to help the youngsters. They’re great role models. You need that calming head and influence.
“Whether the lads start games, are on the bench or just around the place, it’s a paramount.
“Young lads may think they know everything that’s going on but you tend to find that there’s a little more to it that just playing football sometimes. You have to live right and do the right things and keep your feet on the ground.
“Those lads have had unbelievable careers and that’s why I say there are no better role models to look at.”
The Blues boss added: “They could go on for another few years – 100 per cent – because of the way they live and conduct themselves.
“They very rarely miss training and are really fit. They could play for a hell of a lot more years.
“They still have a real part to play. They won’t always play every single game because age and injury will always get you at some stage, but as role models and guys to look up to I wouldn’t swap them for anybody.
“But you can never beat time and it will always catch you. It gets everybody in the end.
“When your career’s coming to an end you know that’s coming. You have to look over your shoulder at what’s coming. I’ve been there, seen it and done it. Then it’s about whether you want to go into management, coaching young players or ambassador roles.
“I think they are two guys who have done a lot for the football club and I think it’s a good idea (to keep them involved with the club). Whether that’s as youth coaches or in ambassador roles or whatever.
“Whatever the case my be it’s important the club look at that.”
Reflecting on the importance of experienced players for him when he made the breakthrough at St Mirren as a teenager, Lambert said: “I played with some unbelievable, battle-hardened guys and there were some unbelievable things that I saw in dressing rooms.
“That made me hard and strong in the head and thankfully I did play with those guys. Brian Gallagher, Jimmy Rooney, Billy Abercromby, Tony Fitzpatrick, Frank McAvennie, Jim Stewart, Cameron White and Neil Cooper. Unbelievable guys, really good players and I knew if I messed around I’d be getting a back-hander.
“I wouldn’t have changed that for the world.
“Their boots had to be spotless, the dressing room had to be spotless but what an upbringing that was. What it did give me was the discipline which was great.
“I’m so glad that was the group of players I was brought up with and it’s an important part of my career.”
Then, reflecting on the end of his playing career, he said: “I knew I was going to retire because I had a little problem with my ankle.
“One or two guys went by me who wouldn’t have done the year before and I knew then it was time to go.
“The thing then is that you have to make that decision. I had a great career, great times and a great success and I couldn’t ask anymore of myself.
“But when you career is coming to an end you have to think about management, coaching, TV or journalism.”