‘Another few weeks before they can hit the heights’ – Lambert on new-look Town ahead of Villa clash
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Ipswich Town face Aston Villa, at Villa Park, in a Championship clash this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says it will take a few weeks before supporters see his new-look team at their best.
The Blues boss made six signings early in the January transfer window in an attempt to kick-start ‘the great escape’, the sextet having made a combined total of 844 minutes competitive action in 2018/19 prior to arrival.
James Collins, Callum Elder, Collin Quaner and Will Keane all started the 1-0 home win against Rotherham, with Alan Judge joining them in the team for the 2-0 loss at Blackburn last weekend.
Town are seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table heading into this afternoon’s match at mid-table Aston Villa.
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“We brought in lads who have not had a lot of game-time,” said Lambert. “You haven’t seen the best of them yet, it’s an impossibility. Those lads haven’t played. I think the only one who has played a few games is Judge (seven starts for Brentford).
“It will take a few weeks. Your body detrains in three weeks. Slowly but surely they will get better. They’ll feel better within themselves after another week of training.
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“It’s going to be another few weeks before they can hit the heights of where they can get to.
“We’ve tried to short-term fix a lot of stuff. That’s critical. We have to try and get through this season and next season we see what happens.”
Asked if there was an element of pre-season training for his ring-rusty new recruits, Lambert said: “No. That would kill the guys. It’s too dangerous for them. You have get them through training session by training session. You adjust it for certain guys and have to understand where they are body-wise.
“Your best judge is your eye. I can see it myself who I think is ready and who is not.”
Veteran centre-back Collins concurs, saying: “Four or five of us came in for the Rotherham game, who’d only been here a few days, and we got through that on adrenaline. Then last weekend saw a bit of a lull. All the lads who came in hadn’t played a great deal of football and this two weeks of training has done everyone good.”
Judge arrived last week insisting his best position was as a No.10 and that playing on the wing was a big part of the reason he had to leave Brentford. Lambert subsequently handed him his Blues debut wide right at Ewood Park as Keane continued in behind Quaner.
Asked if playing all his new players in their preferred positions was a conundrum, Lambert replied: “Not really. I think Judge is a really good player. Technically I think he can play anywhere, he’s that good a footballer.
“I don’t think any position he plays would be a problem to him because he’s that good on the ball. We have to try and get him on the ball where he can hurt people. He’s very clever and his set plays are on the money every time.
“Good players can play anywhere and he’s certainly a good player.”
For the second successive weekend, Lambert returns to one of his former clubs. The Scot spent almost three years in charge of Villa (2012-15), overseeing back-to-back Premier League finishes of 15th before being sacked when the team was 18th in November.
“I enjoyed it, it’s a really big club, a big fan base and I had some really good moments there,” said Lambert. “I probably went in there at a difficult time with the owner wanting to sell it at that time, which was his prerogative. But it is a big, big club which requires big players.”
Dean Smith’s side come into this game placed 13th in the table following just one win in nine.
“Obviously they’ve spent a lot of money trying to try and do it (get promoted), but there’s nothing guaranteed in football,” said Lambert. “You can’t guarantee success.”
1 – Win in nine for Aston Villa (D5 L3 F12 A18)
6 – Straight away defeats for Ipswich Town
1 – Town have won one of their last 13 games (D3 L9 ) against Villa (1-0 away, Feb 2017)
9 – Tammy Abraham has scored nine goals in his last five home games - and not been on the winning in any of them
45 – Only Ipswich (48) and Rotherham United (46) have conceded more league goals this season than Villa (45)
26– Villa have conceded more goals at home than any other side in the Championship
Last five finishes: 4th, 13th (both Championship), 20th, 17th, 15th (all Prem Lg)
Manager: Dean Smith (Oct ‘18): P17 W6 D6 L5
Last game: D 2-2 Hull (h)
Last 10 games: DLLDD WLDDW
Last attendance: 33,619
Margins of victory: 1 (x4), 2 (x4), 3+ (2)
Margins of defeat: 1 (x6), 3+ (x3)
Most league starts: 27: Chester; 26: Hutton; 25: McGinn; 23: Nyland; 22: Abraham; 21 Grealish
Top-scorers: 17: Abraham; 6: Kodjia; 5: Hourihane, Chester
Ipswich Town team news
• Teenage attacker Jack Lankester faces ‘a number of weeks on the sidelines’ with a back problem. He was replaced on the right wing by new signing Alan Judge last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.
• Emyr Huws was an unused substitute for the 1-0 home win against Rotherham but subsequently dropped out of the squad last weekend.
“He’s had a little setback,” explained Blues boss Paul Lambert, when asked about the injury-hit midfielder. “It’s not that bad, but we just have to nurture him through.”
• Jon Nolan, Kayden Jackson, Gwion Edwards and Ellis Harrison were all left out of the match day 18 at Ewood Park, but Lambert insists the quartet still have a role to play.
Aston Villa team news
• Yannick Bolasie was recalled by parent club Everton this week.
• Jack Grealish looks set to miss a 10th successive game with a shin injury.
• Mile Jedinak (calf), Scott Hogan (calf) and Glenn Whelan (shoulder) could be back into contention after injuries.
• On loan Manchester United centre-back Axel Tuanzebe remains sidelined with a metatarsal injury.
• Henri Lansbury has suffered another hamstring injury.
Opposition key man
The 21-year-old Chelsea loanee has scored 17 goals in 23 games. Despite talk of a recall and move to the Premier League he’s stayed put. Looking to become club’s first 20-goal a season man since 1981.
Aston Villa 8/15
Ipswich Town 13/2
Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
Games: 12, Yellows: 43, Reds: 1
Ipswich Town 1 Aston Villa 1
Date: Saturday, August 18, 2018
Paul Hurst hailed his ‘warriors’ after this spirited 10-man display.
After Jonathan Kodjia cancelled out Trevoh Chalobah’s opener, Tayo Edun was controversially shown a second yellow after 40 minutes. Town were then full value for the draw.
Aston Villa 2 Ipswich Town 0
Town have lost by this scoreline seven times on their travels.