Responding to Lambert’s comments, a happy hunting ground and returning pillars - talking points as Town head to Lincoln
Ipswich Town return to Lincoln this weekend as Paul Lambert’s men face a League One battle with the Imps. Andy Warren looks ahead to the game at Sincil Bank.
Paul Lambert's comments following the Blues' 0-0 draw with Gillingham on Boxing Day certainly caused a stir.
After bringing his future as Town boss into doubt with a succession of answers to questions which offered him the opportunity to clarify his thinking and remove uncertainty, discussion moved onto the final game of 2019.
That section of the press conference began with jokes that he may not even be in charge for the trip to Lincoln but that's all they were, jokes. There's never been any suggestion that he won't be on the bus heading to Sincil Bank and there's little reason to believe the Scot is genuinely considering walking away. Or indeed that owner Marcus Evans is minded to make a change with the club sitting second in the table.
There are so many reasons why neither party should be considering those outcomes.
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While Ipswich have had little joy on the pitch of late it will, in many ways, be a relief when the focus returns to playing matters rather than off-field talk.
It will be interesting to see the impact, if any, Lambert's comments have on his team when they take to the field at Sincil Bank.
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The hope has to be the Blues respond to adversity, both on and off the pitch, with three much-needed and valuable points.
Happy hunting ground
Sincil Bank could be the perfect venue for Ipswich to get back to winning ways.
Aside from the penalty shootout win in the EFL Trophy at Peterborough, which ended in a draw after 90 minutes, Lambert's men have failed to win since beating Lincoln in their FA Cup replay on November 20.
It took a dramatic Alan Judge winner to claim the win on that occasion, but the nine games which have followed have certainly raised more questions than they have provided answers.
So a return to familiar surroundings may just help rekindle that winning feeling.
Standing in their way
Since the cup meeting at Sincil Bank Ipswich have played six league games and picked up four points, all of which came from draws. That's left them sitting 20th in the League One form table over that period.
Lincoln have played five games in the league in that time, picking up their six points from back-to-back victories over Burton and Tranmere.
They've lost their last two, but those defeats were both 1-0 and both away at contenders in Coventry and Oxford.
Speaking after the latter, Imps manager Michael Appleton insisted his side would be regular winners if they produced those performance levels on a regular basis.
Captain Luke Chambers is surely a certain starter as he returns from suspension this weekend.
With the skipper banned following his red card at Portsmouth, looking around the Ipswich side which faced Gillingham the lack of the lack of vocal leadership was a concern.
When the chips are down you need your generals on the field and that's the case with Ipswich now.
Another notable absentee was Flynn Downes, with Ipswich missing the bite he brings in midfield.
It has to be said the youngster has not been at his early-season best in recent weeks but, when it comes to it, he's surely a member of Ipswich Town's first-choice XI.
Following a man-of-the-match display at Portsmouth, goalkeeper Will Norris was far from convincing on Boxing Day, so a recall for Tomas Holy isn't impossible, while Andre Dozzell, James Wilson, Will Keane and Emyr Huws will all be hoping to return to the side.
We'll find out at 2pm on Sunday.
How good was it to see Freddie Sears back on the field in an Ipswich Town shirt.
The sight of the forward warming up produced the biggest cheer of the first half on Boxing Day and his introduction with 10 minutes remaining was, sadly, the highlight moment of the second.
There's bound to be some rust there, that's only natural given the 30-year-old has been out for 10 months, but he says he's ready to go and capable of starting games.
That seems unlikely, though. Not yet, anyway. So a place on the bench once again is what we should expect at Lincoln.