Seven Ipswich Town players Lambert may want to get up to speed for League One
Ipswich Town look destined for the drop with 11 games to go. STUART WATSON looks at seven fringe players Paul Lambert may want to get up to speed for League One.
Has a recent League One promotion on his CV having played a key part in Rotherham’s 2017/18 campaign.
The powerful right-back made 37 starts for the Millers during that season-long loan spell and was named their Young Player of the Year.
Paul Hurst followed Mick McCarthy in sending the homegrown youngster to the third-tier last summer. His spell at Shrewsbury was nowhere near as successful, the struggling Shropshire side sending him back in January following a change of manager.
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Paul Lambert has named him on the Blues bench just once since then.
Due to be out of contract in the summer, it will be interesting to see if he – or maybe even Barry Cotter – is given game-time ahead of Aston Villa loanee James Bree over the coming weeks.
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Under Lambert: 0 starts (0 sub). Mins: 0
Ipswich Town could do with a battle-hardened centre-back with League One experience next season – they already have one of those in Toto Nsiala.
The 26-year-old started a mammoth 58 games as Shrewsbury Town finished third, reached the Play-Off Final, the Checkatrade Trophy Final and third round of the FA Cup in 2017/18.
Paul Hurst’s side kept 23 clean sheets with him on the field.
Yes, his debut campaign at Championship level has been a steep learning curve at times. He committed the cardinal sin of allowing the ball to bounce prior to Reading’s winner on Saturday and gave away a few too many costly free-kicks early in the season.
But you can also see why Hurst felt he was ready for the former Everton youngster to take another step up the pyramid.
Mistake for the late goal aside, he had a good game after replacing the injured James Collins just before the break at the weekend. There were a couple of strong bursts out the back and drilled balls into the strikers’ feet.
He’s a real weapon at set-pieces too. His goal at Sheffield Wednesday, the panic he caused for Will Keane’s late leveller against Stoke and chance he created for Luke Chambers on Saturday are all examples of that.
The door will open for at least one centre-back given Matthew Pennington will be returning to Everton.
Contracted until 2021, there’s every chance Nsiala has still got a big role to play going forwards.
Under Lambert: 2 starts (2 sub). Mins: 232
The talented teenager’s comeback year has not gone as he’d have hoped since a defence-splitting assist in that final pre-season friendly against West Ham.
After a year sidelined with a cruciate knee ligament injury, the youngster – who will turn 20 in May – has been restricted to five starts, just two of which have come since Lambert’s arrival.
The Blues boss has hailed the England U20 international as ‘a big talent’ and insists the midfielder’s ‘time is coming’.
There might be an argument that it would be counter-productive to damage the youngster with the stink of relegation. Having missed so much football though, these next few games could be the extended pre-season he needs to get back up to full speed.
Finding the right system and team-mates that will let his technical class shine would be vital.
Under Lambert: 2 starts, (6 sub). Mins: 258
The Welsh winger enjoyed a flying start to life at Town following his £700k move from League One side Peterborough United, scoring minutes into his debut and exciting fans with his direct running.
His form dipped badly as the campaign wore on and he’d shown new boss Paul Lambert very little what he is all about prior to suffering a groin injury in January.
The 26-year-old has produced three encouraging substitute displays on the spin now and can hopefully rediscover his mojo heading.
Under Lambert: 6 starts, (5 sub). Mins: 739
It wasn’t that long ago the Jamaican winger was playing a key role for a promotion-pushing Derby County in the Championship (14/15).
He moved to America at a time in his life where he was dealing with a few personal problems and, following a spell with San Jose Earthquakes, has found it hard to get his career in England back on track.
Still only 31, the direct-running – whose last competitive start was back in July 2017 – has been rediscovering his sharpness in the Under-23s.
With winger options at a premium, he may be given a chance to prove he deserves a new deal in the summer.
Under Lambert: 0 starts, (1 sub). Mins: 16
His debut season at Championship has never really got off the ground, but there have been more than enough signs the Welsh striker can still be a good signing for Ipswich Town in the long run.
The 25-year-old was a key part of the Bristol Rovers side that went from the Conference to a mid-table place finish League One.
Following his £750k switch to Portman Road, he displayed some good all-round qualities in pre-season. And he was then seemingly just finding his feet at this level either side of Christmas – there was a fine finish against Sheffield United and an impressive display against Millwall.
Then Lambert signed Collin Quaner and Will Keane, with Harrison later suffering a hamstring injury.
He’s just returned to training and, with a serious shortage of strikers at present, could well be back in the team sooner rather than later.
Under Lambert: 3 starts, (5 sub). Mins: 363
Signed for £1.6m from League Two champions Accrington Stanley last summer, the speedy front man was the club’s most expensive addition in almost a decade.
Expecting him to be the main man straight away after stepping up two levels was always going to be a big ask, especially alongside several other lower league recruits also trying to bed in.
There have been flashes of his speed, aggression and ability though. There was fire in the belly in the home game against Norwich, a super glancing header against Brentford and spectacular consolation strike against Millwall.
Getting him ready for League One – a level of football the former Grimsby man skipped – could be prudent.
Under Lambert: 3 starts, (9 sub). Mins: 348