Lambert on Fulham loss, reintegrating Downes and Jackson ‘speculation’
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert said it took a ‘world class’ goal for Premier League side Fulham to knock the Blues out of the Carabao Cup tonight.
Aleksander Mitrovic’s powered home a header from a wicked Kenny Tete cross in the 38th minute to settle this second round tie at Portman Road, with a much-changed Blues side making Scott Parker’s men work hard for the victory.
“I couldn’t ask for anymore – I’m really, really proud,” said Lambert. “Fulham went strong, had a load of stars in that team, and we went toe-to-toe with them.
“We had some really good play, no-one disgraced themselves and there wasn’t too much in it.
“The goal that they scored, that was world class. We had them locked in, were set up well, but the switch from deep was incredible, then the cross and header was brilliant. Sometimes you’ve just got to hold your hands up and say the goal was top class.
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“We didn’t have many chances, but you’ve got to remember what you’re playing against. They’ve got a striker who cost more than this football club cost! They’ve got a goalkeeper from PSG. Unbelievable. You’ve got to put it into perspective.
“This experience will be really good for all of them.
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“It would have been nice to have the fans here tonight to feed off. The game is about supporters and hopefully they’ll come back soon.”
In the absence of several senior players, Toto Nsiala was captain for the night. And both he and fellow centre-back James Wilson had solid games.
“The two of them have been excellent,” said Lambert. “Nsiala has been a different player this year, good on the ball, strong, not getting out-muscled. And he was up against a tough guy tonight in Mitrovic.
“Wilson got his chance with (Luke) Woolfenden being out and he took it. The two of them as a partnership look really strong.
“I made Nsiala captain because of the way he’s performed. He deserved the recognition of it.”
With summer signing Oli Hawkins making his full debut up front, Lambert said: “He’s an absolute handful. He’s not fully fit yet, he’s a wee bit behind, so I’m absolutely over the moon with his performance. He gives you everything, wins you a lot of flick-ons and he’s also good with his feet. I’m really pleased with him.”
Tonight’s game also saw Flynn Downes play for the first time after handing a transfer request three weeks ago, the 21-year-old introduced as a second half substitute.
“We had a chat yesterday,” said Lambert. “Just let the kid go and play and don’t mention anything else. Hopefully he gives me a problem trying to get back in the team. He probably knows he’s got a fight on his hands with the guys in front. I think now is the time to put it to bed and let the kid go and play.”
Asked about reports that Birmingham City had made a £2.5m bid for striker Kayden Jackson, Lambert said: “I don’t know about that. It’s the same scenario to what it was. Somebody has to want to buy you. It’s okay saying about speculation, but somebody has to want to buy you. We’ll have to wait and see.”