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'We're at the stage where it's not about systems' - Lambert on today's crunch clash with Reading

PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 March 2019

Collin Quaner is one of only two fit strikers for Ipswich Town along with Kayden Jackson. Photo: Steve Waller

Collin Quaner is one of only two fit strikers for Ipswich Town along with Kayden Jackson. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town take on fellow relegation fighters Reading at Portman Road this afternoon (3pm). STUART WATSON previews the action.

Teddy Bishop is available again following illness. Photo: Steve WallerTeddy Bishop is available again following illness. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert insists the outcome of today’s big game with Reading will have nothing to do with formations as he looks to switch system yet again.

With defender Jonas Knudsen serving a one-match ban and striker Will Keane injured, Lambert admits he is unlikely to deploy the wing-back system that Town had so much joy with when it was 11 v 11 during last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Wigan.

MORE: ‘We are prepared to exploit all the weak points we have found’ – Reading boss Gomes on facing Ipswich Town

The Blues boss started his reign in Suffolk playing 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, but then utilised a diamond midfield set-up for the recent home draws against Derby and Stoke.

“The system might change but we’ll still try and play the way we play,” said Lambert, who has encouraged his team to play on the front foot and be bold in possession.

MORE: Bishop back, while Collins will face late fitness test – Ipswich Town team news ahead of Reading visit

“I think we’re at that stage of the season where it’s not about systems it’s about what’s in your own stomach, how much you want to work and how much you want to try and achieve something.

“That for me is the most important thing. You have to have the enthusiasm for the game regardless of where you’re playing on the pitch.

Will Keane pulls up with a hamstring injury at Wigan. Photo: PagepixWill Keane pulls up with a hamstring injury at Wigan. Photo: Pagepix

MORE: ‘Top players can take the criticism and crack on’ – Lambert explains Downes comments

“Since I’ve been at the club the lads have given us everything. There’s not one game really where I’ve come away thinking otherwise.

“Accrington (in the FA Cup), yes definitely, but most of the games I’ve come away thinking we’ve given it a right go.”

MORE: Lambert rules out free agent signing after Keane injury blow... but could look for striker converts in his squad

Town produced some much-improved performances in February, but ultimately were left with just three points to show for their efforts following a 3-0 defeat at Norwich and three successive 1-1 draws against Derby, Stoke and Wigan.

It leaves them nine points adrift of safety with 12 games to play, tough away games against high-flying West Brom and Bristol City on the horizon.

MORE: Three from six will have to go - how the experts see the battle to beat the drop playing out

Reflecting on the 2-2 draw at Reading in what was his second game in charge last November, Lambert said: “We should have been three-up at half-time and should’ve taken more.

Jonas Knudsen will serve a one-game suspension against Reading following his red card at Wigan. Photo: PagepixJonas Knudsen will serve a one-game suspension against Reading following his red card at Wigan. Photo: Pagepix

“That’s the frustration because we have played really well in certain games and have walked away with nothing.

“We’ve not got the just desserts we should have done, but if we keep doing what we’re doing then we’ll ultimately get our reward for it.”

Opposition lowdown

Last five finishes: 20th, 3rd, 17th, 19th, 7th (all Championship)

Manager: Jose Gomes (Dec’ 23): P12 W2 D5 L5

Last 10: DLWDD DLWLL

Away form: W1 D8 L8 F13 A26

James Collins has sat out the last five games with a hamstring injury. Photo: Steve WallerJames Collins has sat out the last five games with a hamstring injury. Photo: Steve Waller

Margins of victory: 1 (x3), 2 (x3), 3+ (1)

Margins of defeat: 1 (x11), 2 (x4), 3+ (x3)

Most league starts: 33: Yiadom; 26: Moore; 23: Swift, Bacuna; 21: Meite; 20: Blackett

Top-scorers: 7: Bodvarsson, Meite; 5: Baldock; 3: Bacuna, Swift

Last game: D 1-1 Rotherham (h)

Coming up: Wigan (h), Leeds (h), Stoke (a)

MORE: ‘So many things that come into play when thinking about the future’ – Judge on Town contract talks

Stat attack

1 – Away win in 26 for Reading

3 – Home wins in 26 for Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town’s record against Reading since relegation in 2002: W8 D7 L12

MORE: Keeping hopes alive, selection issues and polishing the diamond - questions ahead of ‘massive’ Reading clash

Last meeting

Reading 2 Ipswich Town 2

Date: Saturday, February 23, 2019

There were three goals inside a dramatic opening 11 minutes as goals from Gwion Edwards and Freddie Sears sandwiched Yakou Meite’s quickfire equaliser.

The Blues couldn’t make their subsequent dominance count and Meite headed home late on.

Ipswich Town team news

• Jonas Knudsen serves his one-game ban following last weekend’s red card at Wigan.

• James Collins (hamstring) faces a last fitness test.

• Will Keane (hamstring) has joined a lengthy injury list, leaving Town badly short of strikers.

• Teddy Bishop is available again after sitting out through illness at the DW Stadium.

• Ellis Harrison (hamstring) is back training, but not yet ready to play.

• Callum Elder (unspecified), Grant Ward (knee), Tom Adeyemi (Achilles), Emyr Huws (knee), Jack Lankester (back) and Freddie Sears (knee) are all out.

Reading team news

• Keeper Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal), defender Matt Miazga (Chelsea), midfielders Lewis Baker (Chelsea) and Ovie Ejaria (Liverpool) and striker Nelson Oliveira (Norwich) all arrived in January on loan.

• With holding midfielders Saeid Ezatolahi and Andy Rinomhota injured, the Royals used veteran defender John O’Shea in that role during the latter stages of last weekend’s 1-1 home draw with Rotherham.

• Keeper Anssi Jaakkola, plus strikers Sam Baldock and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson remain sidelined.

Opposition key man

Nelson Oliveira

Portuguese striker has scored two goals in five games since joining the Royals on loan from Norwich. When he’s in the mood the 27-year-old is a real handful. Currently wearing a protective mask.

Odds

Ipswich Town 2/1

Draw 20/9

Reading 22/13

Referee

Darren England (Yorkshire)

Games: 30, Yellows: 114, Reds: 5

Stu’s prediction

Ipswich Town 2 Reading 1

Win or bust time. Thought about 1-1. Decided to be positive.

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