‘It’s up to us to handle the pressure’ – Lambert on games with AFC Wimbledon, Bolton and Shrewsbury
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says his players have to handle the pressure of ‘having a target on their backs’ ahead of tonight’s home clash with AFC Wimbledon (7.45pm ko).
The Blues have had a solid start to life in League One, winning 1-0 at Burton, then drawing with Sunderland (1-1 at home) and Peterborough (2-2 away) - three sides all tipped to be in the promotion mix.
Expectation levels will now rise for the next three games though. AFC Wimbledon stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, crisis club Bolton are playing their Under-18s at present, while Shrewsbury have drawn three successive blanks.
"The target is on our backs," admitted Lambert. "Some clubs will be coming to our stadium for the first time, playing in front of bigger crowds than they are used to and raising their games.
"It's up to us to handle that pressure. The lads will learn to live with that as the season goes on. I'd rather have it than not."
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Asked if he saw these next three games as an opportunity to build some much-needed momentum, Lambert replied: "Listen, I heard that about the first three games. Every game is hard. I only ever look to the next game.
"If people think any game is going to be easy... No game is easy. I've never been involved in one that is easy. We'll treat everybody with respect. It's going to be a tough game.
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"It's an extremely gruelling season. As long as you don't lose you'll be in the mix.
"That's not how we're thinking though. We have to carry on the way we have been. We have to be on the front foot. I'm happy with a lot of aspects of our game. There are one or two things I think we can be a little bit better at.
"It's a young team who, as I keep saying, are learning on the job."
Town yesterday completed the signing of versatile full-back Kane Vincent-Young from Colchester United for a fee believed to be in the region of £500k. The 23-year-old is a doubt for tonight's game due to a stubbed toe he suffered playing at Plymouth 10 days ago.
Lambert is still keen to add two more players before the transfer deadline of September 2.
"My one little concern at the moment is the lack of numbers in the squad," said the Blues boss.
"There will be one or two changes to the team (tonight) because of the amount of games we have.
"If we play 15, 16, 17 games with the same team then two or three get injured you're suddenly asking two or three to come in completely from the cold and that's unfair on them.
"We have to keep them all sharp and ready because the amount of games we have is vast. I trust whoever gets selected to go and perform."