A 9-10 strike partnership? And how much time for trialists? – Things we can learn from Town’s final warm-up game at Cambridge United
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town play their final warm-up game at League Two side Cambridge United this afternoon (1pm ko). STUART WATSON previews the action.
Who gets the nod in goal?
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert insists we shouldn't read too much into his team selection today, but surely whoever he picks in goal will be the man earmarked for the League One opener at Burton next weekend?
Tomas Holy and Bartosz Bialkowski have shared game time throughout pre-season so far. Holy played the whole game at Colchester, then Bialkowski got the 90 minutes at Notts County in midweek.
Does that mean, perhaps, that Holy will be back between the sticks at the Abbey Stadium this afternoon and therefore in pole position for the starting spot?
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Holy is a Lambert signing, whereas Bialkowski had one foot out the door before a move to Millwall collapsed at the medical stage.
The latter could be a formidable force in League One if he can rediscover his form of old. Do Ipswich still need to move their top-earner on? And do they need to play him in order to keep his value high? Watch this space...
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Which trialists will play?
James Wilson, formerly of Lincoln, has played 45 minutes in both of the recent friendlies against Colchester and Notts County. Jon Guthrie, most recently at Walsall, also got a half at Meadow Lane.
Town certainly need an experienced centre-half, given Toto Nsiala is sidelined until September, but will it be either of them?
Lambert must know by now if he wants both (unlikely), one (quite possible) or neither (don't rule that out).
Will he give game time to Luke Chambers or leave him out given the skipper is suspended for the season opener at Burton?
Will one of the two homegrown centre-backs - Luke Woolfenden and Corrie Ndaba - get more game time than the other?
Will Lambert take a look at Janoi Donacien as a centre-half option? That's the position he was adamant the versatile defender was best in when he first took charge.
How long will Huws get?
The biggest positive of pre-season thus far has been the sight of Emyr Huws getting minutes under his belt.
The Welsh midfielder has featured on all four game days thus far, playing 45 minutes against Paderborn, 45 minutes against Fortuna Dusseldorf, half an hour against Colchester and then the full match at Notts County on Tuesday night.
The latter was a major milestone for a player who has not featured in a competitive first team game since December 2017, but perhaps we shouldn't be getting too carried away.
Huws didn't take part in the open training session at Portman Road on Thursday and may have to be kept wrapped in cotton wool a little bit longer.
Will we see two up top?
Lambert has primarily been a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 man since taking charge.
With a shortage of options at the back and dwindling numbers in midfield, might he decide that attack is the best form of defence going into a tricky set of opening League One fixtures?
Summer signing James Norwood is a nailed on starter. He scored 32 goals for Tranmere last season and has already bagged four times in three appearances totalling 133 minutes for the Blues.
The big question is whether he'll be partnered by Kayden Jackson. The former Accrington man is determined to get his Town career up and running following a mentally bruising debut campaign at Portman Road.
He's scored four goals so far this summer and looked sharp. Everyone knows his attributes are best utilised alongside a strike partner.
The thought of an old-fashioned No.9-No.10 strike duo hitting it off, providing a mix of presence and pace, is exciting. The small taster we got of that combo at Colchester certainly whet the appetite.
Can a youngster secure a spot?
Offensive sextet Jon Nolan, Alan Judge, Teddy Bishop, Gwion Edwards, Jack Lankester and Freddie Sears would probably all be starters if fit - but they're not.
That's left the door open for a couple of fledgling professionals in the form of Idris El Mizouni and Armando Dobra, both of whom did their chances no harm at Meadow Lane in midweek.
El Mizouni was born in France and recently capped at senior level by Tunisia. The 18-year-old was handed substitute appearances against Bristol City, Hull and Brentford towards the back end of last season before making his full debut in the 4-0 loss at Preston.
Those senior outings came wide right, but the teenager's best role is as the No.10. He's a bit like Bishop in the way he can find pockets of space, glide past markers and link up with team-mates. He's now got a genuine shot at starting at Burton.
Dobra, also 18, is a little different. He's diminutive, dynamic, quick, tricky and constantly on the move. His attributes look a little more suited to wide role. The likes of Danny Rowe, Luke Garbutt and Jordan Roberts are probably ahead of him in the pecking order, but there's a spot on the bench to be had if he can catch the eye again.