Ipswich Town fans left bemused by Lambert’s comments about Woolfenden
Ipswich Town fans have been left bemused by manager Paul Lambert’s comments regarding unused star defender Luke Woolfenden following yesterday’s 4-1 home friendly defeat to West Ham.
The 21-year-old was recently rewarded with a new four-year contract following an impressive season in which he caught the eye of Premier League and Championship clubs.
He played the entirety of a 75-minute 3-0 win against Colchester United, the first half of the 3-0 loss at Tottenham last weekend, then was left out of a 19-man squad for yesterday’s 4-1 home loss to West Ham.
When asked about his central defensive options post-match, and whether he felt they were all capable of playing out from the back, Lambert said: “(Toto) Nsiala has been really good since we’ve come back, I think he’s been excellent. James Wilson has just come back from injury. (Luke) Woolfenden I think has got to start to get going and start to perform.”
This morning, not long after those quotes were being discussed online, Woolfenden posted a popular ‘confused’ gif on his Twitter account. That has since been deleted.
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This is not the first time that Lambert has questioned Woolfenden publicly. Last summer, the Blues boss said he was ‘not so sure’ whether the young defender, fresh from a loan spell at League Two side Swindon, was ready to start the season opener at Burton with skipper Luke Chambers suspended and Toto Nsiala injured. He subsequently signed James Wilson.
Further down the line, Lambert revealed: “I saw him in pre-season and thought ‘dear oh dear, we need to get a centre-half in’. He was a wee bit off it and I thought ‘do we go with the kid at Burton?’ But we put him in and he’s never looked back.”
Speaking to the EADT and Ipswich Star for a lengthy magazine interview in January, Woolfenden reflected on that pre-season. He said: “I wasn’t really enjoying it. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I’d come back from playing every game at Swindon and no-one said a word to me. Was I going back out on loan? Was I going to play? Was I going to be on the bench? No-one said a word.
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“To be fair, it’s probably my fault not saying anything out in Germany. Being my laid back self I was like ‘whatever’ and I just ended up floating through it. I wasn’t really pushing myself.
“So he probably is right. I didn’t have a good time in Germany. It was the Colchester game, when I didn’t play at all, when I kind of lost my head a bit. I was like ‘what’s going on here?’
“I had a chat with Stu (Taylor, assistant manager) and just said ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, am I playing?’ We had a good chat and after that my performances just went up and up and up. Thankfully he (Lambert) put me in against Burton and I haven’t looked back really.”
Woolfenden wasn’t the only young player that Lambert spoke about during his post-match interview yesterday.
Andre Dozzell, Flynn Downes and Teddy Bishop impressed during the opening hour. When asked if the homegrown trio could be his midfield starters when competitive action gets underway, he replied: “If they keep playing like that then, as I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter to me about reputations or anything like that. Whoever plays well will start the season.
“I think people like Andre need to step up again... but he’s played brilliant for us in pre-season. Flynn is consistent as anything and Bishop has been great considering how little he played last season.
“Emyr (Huws), (Alan) Judgey, Nolo (Jon Nolan)... They are all pushing to see who starts.”
On left-footed centre-back Corrie Ndaba, 20, who has produced some assured cameos against Spurs and West Ham, the Blues boss said: “He’s done great Corrie, he really has. He’s got to keep that going. It’s alright doing it in friendly games when there’s no crowd, he’s got to be brave enough to play like that when the crowds come back. But he’s performed really, really well.”
And on attacking midfielder Idris El Mizouni, 19, Lambert said: “He’s done okay, but he’s got millions to lean. He’s playing with a freedom because there’s no pressure on him. But he’s got a talent. There’s no pressure from me on him. Football-wise he’s got some really nice touches, he just needs to work on moving it a little bit quicker than he does. That will come withe experience.”
Lambert is hopeful that James Norwood (groin), Kane Vincent-Young (Achilles), Gwion Edwards (groin), James Wilson (calf) and Myles Kenlock (thigh) will be available for Saturday’s friendly. He says that those who didn’t feature against West Ham, the likes of Cole Skuse, Jack Lankester, Oli Hawkins and Kayden Jackson all left out, will get game time at the weekend.