'We're not looking at promotion parties... It's about what's right for us' - Town ready to give kids an end-of-season exam against Sheffield United and Leeds
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 April 2019
Ipswich Town take on Sheffield United, at Bramall Lane, in a Championship clash this afternoon. STUART WATSON previews the action.
Relegated Ipswich Town are now key protagonists in the automatic promotion race, but that will not stop manager Paul Lambert experimenting.
Sheffield United will guarantee themselves a top-two spot if their result against Town this tea-time (5.15pm ko, Sky Sports) proves better than Leeds' result against Aston Villa tomorrow lunchtime.
A win would, due to a far superior goal difference, effectively do the job regardless of what happens elsewhere.
Should that not transpire, Leeds will come to Portman Road on the final day still in with a shot of avoiding the lottery of the play-offs.
“We're not looking at Sheffield United's promotion party or Leeds United's promotion party,” said Blues assistant boss Stuart Taylor. “It's about what's right for us as a football club and what's right for our players – we will always make decisions based on that.”
Homegrown midfielder Idris El Mizouni made his debut recently, with Lambert having said that teenage centre-back Corrie Ndaba would follow suit before the end of the campaign.
Fringe youngster Josh Emmanuel and Tristan Nydam, loane Callum Elder – a potential summer signing – and the fit-again Ellis Harrison could also get rare game time.
“I think we've done a lot of experimenting already,” said Taylor.
“We've always looked at the future here and don't believe anything should be done short-term, so it's about the bigger picture at all times.
“If that means looking to next season then we have no problem with that in terms of where players are going to play and giving them tests along the way.
“That's the only way we're going to know how they will do. They need to be tested.
“We have no lack of confidence or fear with the younger ones. We know how we are going to play, we know the system that we use and they know the patterns we want to play in.”
Meanwhile, Taylor says Town can take inspiration from Sheffield United, a club who recently spent six seasons in the third-tier.
“Sheffield United, not all that long ago, were pretty close to rock bottom,” said the Scot.
“They put foundations in place, built, improved and progressed and now find themselves pushing for promotion. All credit to them.”
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Last five finishes: 10th (all Championship), 1st, 11th, 5th, 7th (all League One)
Manager: Chris Wilder (May '16): P146 W80 D31 L38
Last 10 games: WWDDW LWWWD
Last game: W 3-0 Hull (a)
Last home game: W 2-0 Nottm Forest
Home league record: P22 W14 D4 L4 F49 A33
Margins of victory: 1 (x11), 2 (x8), 3+ (x6)
Margins of defeat: 1 (x9), 3+ (x1)
Top-scorers: 24: Sharp; 15: McGoldrick
Most league starts: 44: Henderson; 43: Stevens, Fleck; 42: Egan; 41: Norwood
Ipswich Town 1 Sheffield United 1
Date: Saturday, December 22, 2018
Ellis Harrison produced a fine finish from outside the box, with the aid of a slight deflection, to give Town a first half lead (38). Billy Sharp headed home after the restart in what was an entertaining draw. Paul Lambert's men moved to within four points of safety.
Sheffield United 3 Ipswich Town 0
Blades a well-oiled machine that can smell promotion. Town rock-bottom and experimenting. This could get messy.