‘The senior lads are easy targets’ – Lambert on why he’s singled out youngsters for criticism

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert and Alan Judge. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert and Alan Judge. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says senior players are ‘easy targets’ when questioned why he’s singled out youngsters for criticism this season.

At this morning’s pre-match press conference, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s League One top-six home clash with League One, the following was put to the Blues boss...

Q: You’ve had high standards for the young players at the football club this season. In pre-season you said Luke Woolfenden needed to ‘get himself going’, then the likes of Armando Dobra, Corrie Ndaba and Aaron Drinan were told they needed to ‘earn the right’ to be in the squad photo, you said recently that Brett McGavin needed to be ‘a 100 times better’ and highlighted Jack Lankester’s ‘individual error’ in midweek. Do those same standards need to be held to the senior players as well? You’ve been quick to highlight some of the younger players, but surely it’s the senior lads who need to carry this club on their shoulders this season?

Lambert replied: “The senior lads are easy targets. They’re easy targets for everybody. That’s the wrong thing to do. The senior lads need the young lads and the young lads need the senior lads. That’s normal. We had a chat and we singled out a few of the older lads yesterday, privately, because it wasn’t good enough for the goals.

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“The older guys are an easy target though. The young guys always get protected. Always. I was a young guy myself and when I made horrendous errors the guy next to me got the blame because he’s older. That’s wrong. Because you’re in a team.

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“It’s very easy for younger players to hide behind older players and go ‘they’re older’. No, that’s not the way it works.

“You have to take responsibility. If you’re in a man’s world and playing professional football, you can’t be young. Young now is maybe 16/17. But when you hit 18/19/20 you start to become a little bit different. Or you should start to become different.

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“I think it’s an easy target to blame older guys. It’s a team. Anybody who knows me, knows I’ve never been about individuals. The team is the most important thing.”

Lambert was subsequently asked if Dobra might be a match day squad soon given the amount of injuries he is dealing with. The Blues boss, in direct conflict with his previous comments, said the 19-year-old was ‘a baby’ in football terms.

“He has to keep playing as well as he possibly can,” said Lambert, before going off on a tangent.

“I’ve watched the kids play. The younger kids really turn my eye when I go and watch them and play. Liam Gibbs is doing fantastically well, Elkan Baggott has been excellent. I watched the kids on Monday night in the Youth Cup. That level for some of them is too easy. We have to move them up.

“Dobs has done well. He’s only a young kid, he’s only a baby, and he’s going to go up and down. But you’ve got to really push for me to go ‘okay, we’re going to have a look’.”

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