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North Stander: ‘Dozzell is an absolute gem – I would start him every game’

14 September, 2020 - 06:00
Terry was very impressed with Andre Dozell Picture: PA SPORT

Terry was very impressed with Andre Dozell Picture: PA SPORT

PA Wire

Ipswich Town fan Terry Hunt gives his thoughts on yesterday’s season-opening win over Wigan Athletic...

Aaron Drinan heads clear.  
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comAaron Drinan heads clear. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Thank goodness we avoided the banana skin. Meeting ‘crisis club’ Wigan in our first league game always looked like a really dangerous way to start the season.

But, credit where credit is due, we put together a half decent performance with a handful of slick passing movements, and a couple of decent goals.

MORE: Lambert ‘really happy’ with opening day win against Wigan

Yes, there were some dodgy moments at the back - how did Obi miss those two first-half headers? - but equally we could have made the scoreline more convincing.

For me, the most encouraging part of the display came in midfield, and in particular the performances of Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop. We’ve known for ages how much talent those two have, but for different reasons we’ve only seen it very sporadically.

MORE: Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 2-0 home win against Wigan

If - and it’s a big if - Bishop can stay clear of injuries, he will be a huge player in this division. Those twinkling feet will scare the living daylights out of defenders.

Great to see him on the scoresheet. It’s astonishing to think that was his first goal in six years, and only the second of his career.

Jon Nolan on the ball.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comJon Nolan on the ball. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

The story with Dozzell is slightly different. He is potentially an absolute gem, with exquisite passing ability, but that talent has only been seen on very rare occasions.

If he can find a role in the side, and use his abilities, he will be a match winner. Against Wigan, he had a really good first half, but faded from the game as it went on.

That, I guess, will always be the challenge with Dozzell. We are never going to get a full-blooded, all-action 90 minutes from him. He will always flit in and out of games, delivering a handful of high-quality moments. Personally, I would start him every game.

MORE: ‘I don’t know if he wanted to play’ – Lambert on leaving Downes out again

Cardboard cutouts of fans at Portman Road yesterdayCardboard cutouts of fans at Portman Road yesterday

Alongside Bishop and Dozzell, Jon Nolan has started the season well. He is another player who needs a good campaign. He has the ability but so often in the past has failed to convince consistently.

I mention that we looked a bit creaky at the back. We should have been behind at half-time if Wigan had taken their chances. Quite how we managed to leave the towering Obi unmarked from a set-piece is something that will concern Paul Lambert and his coaching staff.

But, let’s take the positives. It was a clean sheet, and Nsiala and Wilson did well, in general. I would be delighted to be proved wrong about Toto this season. As I’ve said in the past, he always looks like he has a mistake in him. Maybe he can sort that this season.

It’s obviously impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from a single League game, especially one against a team in such turmoil as Wigan.

Luke Chambers picks up a yellow card.
    Picture: Steve Waller       
www.stephenwaller.comLuke Chambers picks up a yellow card. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

But in the cup game against Bristol Rovers, and again against Wigan, we tried to get the ball down and play. There were a few occasions when the passing and movement worked really well. Both goals came that way, with neat moves opening up the defence down the flanks. It didn’t happen often enough, but it does raise the hope that there will be some decent football to watch. Dare I say it, we might even have an identity!

MORE: ‘Decent performance... Dozzell & Bishop can run games’ - Town fans react to Wigan win

It was a shame Aaron Drinan only played half the game. I like the young striker. He holds the ball up well, and links play very effectively. When James Norwood came on, it all became rather more frenetic, and less threatening.

So a decent start - but there are two questions which are buzzing round in my head. The first is - why have we picked up so many injuries even though the season has barely started? Thank goodness we have such strength in depth, demonstrated by our subs - Gwion Edwards, James Norwood, and Emyr Huws. Those three would be permanent fixtures in most League One sides.

The second question is - what on earth is happening with Flynn Downes? Surely while he’s still employed by Ipswich Town Football Club, he should be pulling on the blue shirt and turning out for our team? It seems an extraordinarily unsatisfactory situation, and one Paul Lambert and the club need to resolve one way or another without delay.

MORE: Ratings: How the Ipswich Town players performed in their 2-0 opening-day victory over Wigan

So, a satisfactory start. Shame we didn’t get a third goal which would have put us top. Of course, even if we are flying high after a few games there will be an inevitable, in-built fear because of last season’s total and utter collapse.

One game at a time, as they say...let’s see how we do next Saturday against Bristol Rovers. We played them off the park in the Carabao Cup, so let’s hope we can do something similar at their place. So far, so good!


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