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Lambert has easy decisions ahead of MK Dons visit... but they will soon get a little tougher

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 October 2020

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town take on MK Dons this afternoon. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town take on MK Dons this afternoon. Picture: STEVE WALLER

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Same again

Toto Nsiala congratulates Gwion Edwards after his goal in the 2-0 victory over Rochdale.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comToto Nsiala congratulates Gwion Edwards after his goal in the 2-0 victory over Rochdale. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Let’s cut to the chase, there’s every chance Paul Lambert will go with the same 11 players when they visit MK Dons today.

Three 2-0 victories on the trot, along with Lambert’s insistence that players in form will keep their shirts, means those who got the job done against Bristol Rovers last weekend will get the chance to do it again.

That means Flynn Downes will have to make his impact from the bench once again and Jack Lankester will need to wait a little longer for a first competitive start since January 2019, even if Freddie Sears was a little quiet last time out.

James Norwood’s hamstring injury means the striking load will fall on Oli Hawkins’ shoulders and, following three successive clean sheets, the back five will remain intact.

Benchmen

While the starting XI may be relatively simple for Lambert to select, the bench is become that bit more difficult.

Norwood’s injury means Kayden Jackson, who returned to training last Friday following a groin problem, will almost certainly return to the squad quicker than expected.

In an ideal world the Blues would have liked to have given Jackson a little longer to get back up to speed following his time on the sidelines, but Town are in a needs must scenario now.

Oli Hawkins will have to shoulder the striking burden while James Norwood is out.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comOli Hawkins will have to shoulder the striking burden while James Norwood is out. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Alan Judge and Luke Woolfenden have both returned to training too and, having been regular starters last season, are worthy of spots on the bench at least.

Some tough decisions there for Lambert.

It’s been a while

Three games, three clean sheets is an impressive way to start the season.

MK Dons manager Russell Martin, the former Norwich City defender. Picture: PAMK Dons manager Russell Martin, the former Norwich City defender. Picture: PA

But if Ipswich can make that four wins, four clean sheets, they will equal a season-opening streak not achieved by a Town side since 1974.

Then we’re starting to talk about Tomas Holy potentially breaking the club’s consecutive clean sheet run once again.

His fifth in a row, at Gillingham a little more than a year ago, equalled a long-standing record before it fell at home to Tranmere in the very next game.

You never know, he might just manage it this year.

The nearly man

Ipswich showed interest in veteran centre-back Richard Keogh during the course of the summer, before he ultimately joined MK Dons.

Keogh, an ex-Ireland international, is a former Ipswich academy player and ball boy and it’s perhaps not surprising Town showed early interest in a player who’s played almost all of his career in the second tier.

There were well-documented issues of course, following his sacking by Derby a year ago and the legal fall-out since, but he will be delighted to have made his playing return last weekend in Dons’ loss at Crewe.

Dean Lewington has played 762 games for MK Dons. Picture: PADean Lewington has played 762 games for MK Dons. Picture: PA

He played just seven minutes at Gresty Road and that’s unlikely to be enough for him to jump into the starting XI for the visit of Town, but he’ll be there soon enough.

He’s already being talked about as a future MK skipper.

Master vs apprentice

Move over Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard, it’s time for League One’s ‘master v apprentice’ battle.

Dons boss Russell Martin played under Lambert at Wycombe before the two were reunited at Norwich, where they combined for back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League.

Martin reflected on those years fondly in the build-up to this game, as did Lambert, but the Dons boss also admitted the fact he represented Norwich for so long (and never lost to Ipswich) adds a little spice to this game for him personally.

It’s just a shame there won’t be a packed away end to let him know exactly what those of Suffolk-persuasion think of him.

Familiar faces

For Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan, there will be a reunion with a familiar face this weekend.

The former Shrewsbury duo were central figures as Paul Hurst’s side reached the League One play-off final in 2018, earning all three a move to Suffolk.

Dons striker Carlton Morris was also an important member of that side, often playing as the team’s central striker and contributing some important goals during his loan from Norwich.

He’s still a Canary now but, following a couple of tough years hit by injury, he’s out on loan again and enjoying his football under Martin.

He’s a player Ipswich will need to watch closely.


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