‘There can’t be a double standard’ – Lambert baulks at suggestion Town are heavy favourites at crisis club Bolton
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says anyone installing his team as short odds favourites to win at crisis club Bolton Wanderers tomorrow would be guilty of ‘double standards’.
The Trotters are in serious financial trouble following relegation to League One, started the campaign with a 12-point deduction for going into administration and saw the majority of their squad enact get out clauses in their deals this summer.
As takeover talks continue to drag on, it's left the Lancashire club with just a handful of fit senior players, with 12 of their 18-man squad aged 18 or younger for last weekend's 5-0 defeat at newly-promoted Tranmere Rovers.
Their scheduled midweek home clash with Doncaster was postponed due to 'player welfare issues' and, on Thursday, manager Phil Parkinson quit leaving academy boss Jimmy Phillips in caretaker charge.
"Do you know what, I'm not so sure," said Lambert, when asked if Bolton's game should have been postponed.
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"I can understand people being frustrated and saying 'why did the game get called off?' I totally get it.
"I heard Big Sam (Allardyce) saying they should have played the game. He's right. The only way kids are going to learn is by playing the game.
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"My own team is riddled with young kids. My own team is expected to go out and play in front of 25,000 people, maybe more. Our kids have to handle it.
"Wayne Rooney, for example, played Premier League football when he was 16. I'm not sure I go with that argument.
"If I look at my own team, Idris (El Mizouni) is 18, (Luke) Woolfenden has just turned 20, (Flynn) Downes is just 20, (Andte) Dozzell is just 20, (Myles) Kenlock is 21, (Josh) Emmanuel is 21. We've got (Armando) Dobra, 18, Bailey Clements, 18.... My own team is riddled with young lads.
"We've got a different scenario (to Bolton) in terms of the size of the club and the size of the fanbase. Still, our kids have to go through a lot of mental stress as well."
The average age of Bolton's squad last time out was 20. Town's was 25.
The average number of league appearances among Town's squad was 184. Bolton's was just 38.
And Lambert can now call upon new £500k signing Kane Vincent-Young, a 24-year-old with more than 100 senior appearances under his belt, too.
"Guys like you are putting pressure on the kids," said Lambert, when it was put to him that, just like Tuesday night's home game against AFC Wimbledon, there was an expectation among many that Town should win.
"Where's the doubled edged sword there? You're saying about Bolton's kids. What about my kids? Why do you say the pressure is on?
"The younger ones outweigh the older ones here. There can't be a double standard. There has to be a realism of, hang on a minute, 'we've got young players here who will make mistakes'.
"We don't have a team of experienced lads. We've got a decent mix, but some are really, really young who have to go through the barrier of playing professional football."
So, does Lambert not accept that his team are the heavy favourites at the University of Bolton Stadium?
"Everybody will look at us because of the size of the club, but we've still got a young side ourselves," he replied. "Whether we're favourites or not I'll let other people decide.
"They took a good point off of Coventry (0-0 at home). I'm pretty sure (Coventry manager) Mark Robins probably got asked the same question. You've got to go up there and earn the right. You've got to have the right attitude and mentally to win."
He added: "The only difference (between Ipswich and Bolton) is that we put our young players in last year. Go back a year. There's no real difference. We just have one or two older ones to try and help them through it.
"They've got to go and play in front of 25,000 people. That brings its own pressure.
"Our own team is young. But I trust the young kids to go and play. I don't have any problem about them.
"Idris is playing really well. I took him off at half-time (against AFC Wimbledon) because that's part of the upbringing he's going to have to go through.
"Dobra did really well at Luton and then I left him out. Bailey did really well against Luton, I leave him out. That's part and parcel of the game. They have to learn the extremes of the highs and the lows. They will have a lot of highs in their careers, no doubt."
BOLTON V IPSWICH - AGE/EXPERIENCE COMPARISON
Remi Matthews - - - 25 (age) - - - 92 (league apps)
Harry Brockbank - - - 20 (age) - - - 7 (league apps)
Yoan Zouma - - - 21 (age) - - - 3 (league apps)
Joe White - - - 17 (age) - - - 3 (league apps)
Jason Lowe - - - 27 (age) - - - 226 (league apps)
Luke Murphy - - - 29 (age) - - - 334 (league apps)
James Weir - - - 24 (age) - - - 11 (league apps)
Jonny Graham - - - 17 (age) - - - 2 (league apps)
Callum King-Harmes - - - 17 (age) - - - 3 (league apps)
Ronan Darcy - - - 18 (age) - - - 4 (league apps)
Eddie Brown - - - 18 (age) - - - 3 (league apps)
Matthew Alexander - - - 17 (age) - - - 1 (league apps)
Jordan Broon - - - 18 (age) - - - 3 (league apps)
Adam Senior - - - 17 (age) - - - 0 (league apps)
D'Neil Richard - - - 17 (age) - - - 0 (league apps)
De-Marlio Brown-Sterling - - - 17 (age) - - - 1 (league apps)
Kwame Osigwe - - - 17 (age) - - - 0 (league apps)
Regan Riley - - - 17 (age) - - - 1 (league apps)
AVERAGE AGE: 20
AVERAGE LEAGUE APPS: 38
- - - - - - - -
Tomas Holy - - - 27 (age) - - - 104 (league apps)
Janoi Donacien - - - 25 (age) - - - 175 (league apps)
James Wilson - - - 30 (age) - - - 209 (league apps)
Luke Woolfenden - - - 20 (age) - - - 59 (league apps)
Myles Kenlock - - - 22 (age) - - - 59 (league apps)
Cole Skuse - - - 33 (age) - - - 519 (league apps)
Flynn Downes - - - 20 (age) - - - 54 (league apps)
Andre Dozzell - - - 20 (age) - - - 31 (league apps)
Idris El Mizouni - - - 18 (age) - - - 7 (league apps)
James Norwood - - - 28 (age) - - - 349 (league apps)
Danny Rowe - - - 27 (age) - - - 238 (league apps)
Will Norris - - - 26 (age) - - - 110 (league apps)
Luke Chambers - - - 33 (age) - - - 638 (league apps)
Anthony Georgiou - - - 22 (age) - - - 1 (league apps)
Emyr Huws - - - 25 (age) - - - 95 (league apps)
Alan Judge - - - 30 (age) - - - 329 (league apps)
Gwion Edwards - - - 26 (age) - - - 197 (league apps)
Kayden Jackson - - - 25 (age) - - - 141 (league apps)
AVERAGE AGE: 25
AVERAGE LEAGUE APPS: 184