'When you miss two years, young guys are catching you... I hope he gets back to where he was' - Lambert on Huws comeback
PUBLISHED: 14:44 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:13 28 March 2019
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he won't rush Emyr Huws back into first team action following his latest injury comeback.
The Welsh midfielder became a fans’ favourite during a loan spell from Cardiff in 2017, he subsequently signed a four-year deal that summer but a troublesome Achilles followed by knee surgery have restricted him to just three first team starts since then.
He returned to training last summer, but there have been several set-backs on his comeback trail. The sight of him completing an hour for the Under-23s on Tuesday must therefore be greeted with cautious optimism.
“The big thing for me is that there is no adverse reaction to his knee – hopefully there’s not,” said Lambert.
“There’s no pressure from me whatsoever for Emyr to rush back this season. This kid has got to be nurtured along and make sure that knee doesn’t flare up and hold him back.
“The most important thing is his health and welfare. He has to be able to stay in games.”
Does that mean Huws must play at least another two or three games for the U23s before being considered for first team selection again?
“Absolutely,” replied Lambert. “Anyone who thinks otherwise would be crazy. The lad’s been out since 2017. It’s too long. It’s dangerous. Nearly two years out is a hell of a long time to get back.
“We’ll look after him and see how he does.”
Lambert has made it clear he has long been a big fan of Huws, but the Blues boss admits it’s hard to make the 25-year-old a central part of his plans going forwards given his injury record.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “I can’t predict the future and what’s going to happen with him.
“We have to monitor him every single day and every single training session to make sure that knee doesn’t keep flaring up.
“It’s hard for him. We’ve had the emergence of Idris (El Mizouni), (Teddy) Bishop, (Flynn) Downes, (Andre) Dozzell... When you miss two years of football these young guys are catching you all the time.
“What Emyr has got is a terrific passing range of the ball. What’s hindering him a bit at the minute is that he is not as robust as those kids coming through because of his knee.
“I hope he gets back to what he was because he was a hell of a player before he got injured.”
He added: “There’s no pressure from me to really push for this season. If he can have a good pre-season, sustain the sessions, then there must be a good chance that he’ll be okay.
“If he breaks down then it becomes difficult.”
Meanwhile, Lambert says it is unlikely that 19-year-old forward Jack Lankester, who has been sidelined with a back problem since the middle of January, will play again this season.
“I would doubt that, I would really doubt that,” said the Blues boss.
“I think the kid’s got another scan on his back in three weeks’ time and we’ll look at that and see how that’s healing.
“If it’s getting fully healed then (he may be back) but there’s no way I can put pressure on that kid and say, ‘OK, you play the last three games’. We have to have him totally right.”