'Cole can't go on forever... he needs someone to step into his shoes' - Lambert's challenge to Dozzell
PUBLISHED: 17:06 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 13 December 2019
Paul Lambert has challenged Andre Dozzell to 'step into the shoes' of Cole Skuse in the Ipswich Town midfield.
After struggling for minutes during the early weeks of the season, Dozzell's form has stepped up a gear in recent weeks, most notably alongside Flynn Downes in the first half of last weekend's 1-1 draw at Coventry City.
He was starting ahead of Skuse, who dropped to the bench due to the lingering effects of a hip injury, with the veteran coming on in the second period to maintain his record of playing in all 18 of Town's League One game's this season.
Skuse has made 262 appearances since joining the club in 2013 and has been a highly-dependable, near ever-present during that time, but manager Paul Lambert has repeatedly stressed the 33-year-old midfielder and captain Luke Chambers, 34, 'can't go on forever'.
But is Dozzell the man to take his place in the long-term?
"He's doing really well but he's always been a really talented young footballer," Lambert said.
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"I think him and (Flynn) Downes are playing exceptionally well together and I do think the partnership with England (Under 20s) has helped them with that as well.
"They have great balance because one's a lefty (Dozzell) and one's a righty (Downes) and Cole can't go on forever.
"Cole's been incredible for us, an incredible footballer. I've always said with Cole that I wish I had him six or seven years earlier.
"If anything happens to Cole then Andre or Emyr has to be ready to come in. Andre's done really well. He's a really good player.
"I was 33 and 34 myself and it's impossible for someone like that to go all day. In my head I thought I could but it's impossible and I couldn't hit the standards I did when I was 26 or 27. That's impossible.
"You need somebody to come in or you have to buy somebody who's going to replace Cole Skuse. It's difficult.
"Andre's play at this moment is of a really high level and if anything happened to Cole, whether he's injured or left out, he needs somebody to step into his shoes.
"You can't rely on one guy always holding the fort."