‘Flynn has a fight on his hands’ - Downes unlikely to start League One opener
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Paul Lambert appeared to rule out giving Flynn Downes a start when Ipswich Town open their League One season against Wigan on Sunday.
The midfielder has handed in a transfer request in the wake of two rejected bids from Crystal Palace, with the academy product keen to join the Premier League side.
Lambert responded to Downes’ head being ‘all over the place’ by giving the midfielder a few days off, meaning he missed the games with Bristol Rovers and Arsenal U21, before he returned to training earlier this week.
When asked, the Town boss did not confirm whether or not the 21-year-old is available to him this weekend, with the Scot insisting he would have a fight to force his way into the side even if he was.
“The team’s going really well and the midfield three have been brilliant, so it’s up to other guys to get into the team and push them out.
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“We’ll wait and see with the other guys and whether they can play.
“Flynn has a fight on his hands to get back in with the other three (Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop and Jon Nolan) playing so well and then Cole Skuse, Emyr (Huws) and (Alan) Judge as well.
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“There’s a lot of competition now in that area and it’s probably the strongest position we’ve got.”
Asked if there had been any further bids for Downes, with both of Palace’s offers falling short of £2m and being a significant way off the Blues’ valuation, Lambert said: “I’ve not heard anything.
“The two most important people in any transfer are the hierarchy at the buying and selling club, they’re the ones who decide it. If they (Palace) came with a bid which totally matched Marcus’s valuation then I’m pretty sure he would listen.
“Until then I don’t think there will be anything happening.”
Lambert continued: “I think he needs to listen to the people who have his welfare and his career at heart. The lad’s a really good player. His head was all over the place, which I totally understood.
“If it was me, I’d have played (against Bristol Rovers), which was why I did pick him to play initially. But he’s still not 100 per cent in the mindset, he’s training, but I still think the lads in front of him at this moment in time have earned the right to play and are playing really, really well.
“I feel a bit for him because of the way it’s gone for him. He’s only 21 and he’s come a long way since we came in. I’d just hope that his head becomes clearer as the weeks go by.”