Changes, debuts, a long-awaited return and the chance for Town to play the ‘giant-killer’ role in Luton cup clash
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town travel to Luton for the first round of the Carabao Cup this evening. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to the action at Kenilworth Road.
Mixing it up
Changes are coming for Ipswich Town this evening, but how many remains to be seen.
Boss Paul Lambert has stressed his current squad is not strong enough to handle the burden extended cup runs and a possible 60-game season can bring.
Goalkeeper Will Norris is a certain starter for an Ipswich debut, while it's likely all seven substitutes for Saturday's draw with Sunderland will be in Lambert's XI.
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That would mean another chance for James Wilson to impress, rare minutes for Jordan Roberts and just a second Ipswich start for Idris El Mizouni.
It would give Andre Dozzell a chance to pull the strings in midfield and, perhaps most excitingly, a first senior start since December 2017 for Welshman Emyr Huws.
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Alan Judge was pencilled in to start at Luton before being called upon earlier than expected against Sunderland, so it remains to be seen whether Lambert sticks with the original plan or eases the burden on a player who missed much of pre-season with a wrist injury.
Jon Nolan (calf) and Gwion Edwards (groin) are still working their way back to fitness following disrupted summers and aren't expected to be involved, while Luke Garbutt trained yesterday after leaving the Sunderland game with a knee problem.
Toto Nsiala, Jack Lankester, Teddy Bishop, Tristan Nydam and Freddie Sears are all out.
Next off the production line
Aside from Norris, a certain starter, two more Ipswich Town players could make their debuts at Kenilworth Road.
Winger Armando Dobra and left-back Bailey Clements, both 18, forced their way onto the club's pre-season tour of Germany and impressed whenever called upon, especially when you consider their tender years.
Given Myles Kenlock is the only senior left back at the club at present, does Lambert want to risk the 22-year-old when League One is the club's priority this season? If the answer is no, Clements could get his chance.
And could Dobra's hustle and bustle be an asset at a time when the club are lacking in wingers, given Garbutt hobbled out of Saturday's draw with Sunderland with a knee injury?
"No, none they did it in pre-season," Lambert said last week when asked if would have any qualms about fielding the duo.
"But, as I said before, that's a monumental ask for two young kids who have just stepped out of U18 football to go into this type of football.
"I think you're being delusional if you think they're ready-made players, they're not, they're kids learning, who if the truth be known, if we had a stronger squad they would be fleetingly in and out.
"But at the minute they're training with us every single day, but that's where the club is. We can't do anything else, that's what we have to do."
In from the cold?
Neither Josh Emmanuel nor Corrie Ndaba have made the matchday squad so far this season but could potentially be involved this evening.
Clements was chosen as the only defensive option on the bench at Burton ahead of the duo, who appear to have real work to do to convince Lambert of their ability in the first-team.
Emmanuel featured towards the end of last season but lost out in the right-back stakes to Janoi Donacien this summer, while Ndaba was denied his Ipswich bow in the final weeks of the season after the Town boss was left less-than-impressed by his displays in the Under 23s.
Cup competitions offer the young duo the most-likely pathway back into his thoughts.
The only other fit player with any first-team experience at all is Barry Cotter, but he seems quite some distance from Lambert's plans at present.
A long time coming
Ipswich Town haven't won a cup game of any kind since August 2017, with that 2-0 victory coincidentally coming at tonight's opponents Luton.
And we all know the Blues' record in knock-out football is poor. They've won just four of their last 24 cup games, spanning eight seasons. Ten of those defeats have come against lower-league opposition.
But that's not the narrative tonight. Town are the underdogs, with the two clubs swapping divisions at the end of last season following the Hatters' promotion and Ipswich's relegation.
You have to go back to December 2010 for the last time Ipswich knocked a side from a higher division out of a cup competition, as Grant Leadbitter's penalty disposed of West Brom in the League Cup quarter-finals, setting up a clash with Arsenal in the semis.
Tonight's game is being refereed by Brett Huxtable from Devon.
His one and only Ipswich game saw him take charge of Town's Carabao Cup game at Exeter a year ago, where Paul Hurst's Blues were beaten on penalties after a 1-1 draw.