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Lambert: Rotherham Will Face Different Town Side
Friday, 11th Jan 2019 11:52

Boss Paul Lambert says Rotherham will be facing a different Town team in Saturday’s crucial bottom-of-the-table clash at Portman Road, most notably in terms of their physicality.

The 24th-placed Blues go into the game 10 points plus a goal difference of nine behind the Millers, who are fourth bottom.

Town have made five January signings - loanees Callum Elder, Will Keane and Collin Quaner and free recruits Simon Dawkins and James Collins - since their last Championship game - the 3-2 New Year's Day home defeat to Millwall - and have Cole Skuse and Emyr Huws closing in on a return from injury and one or two other players over knocks which saw them miss last week’s embarrassing 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Accrington Stanley.

“We’re playing well and will have a lot of lads back,” Lambert said. “We’ve got new additions in and we’ll be a different side size-wise, physicality-wise.

“There are some guys coming out of the treatment room, which will help us. Our squad and bench will look different from what it has been.”

Asked whether the match is a must-win fixture as the Blues look to pull off what would be the greatest of escapes during the second half of the season, Lambert said: “If I’m lucky enough to still be here next summer and if you ask me if it’s a must-win game on the first day of the season in August, I’ll say it is.

“And the answer’s the same - every game’s a must win. I don’t understand how people can say that, whether you’re in January or you’re in August, what is the difference? There’s no difference. You have to win games from the off, not from halfway through a season. Every game I go into it trying to win.

“The secret is not to get 10 points behind from the start of the season, that’s the secret. It’s not rocket science. It’s from the off how your season pans out, it doesn’t start in December, it doesn’t start in November, it starts in August time.

“My view is that if we play the way we can and we keep doing what we’re doing and cut out the errors, then we’ll be OK.”

Among those back after suffering knocks is keeper Dean Gerken and the former Colchester and Bristol City man seems likely to return in goal in place of Bartosz Bialkowski, who played against Accrington last week.

Lambert admits he has a decision to make at left-back with Myles Kenlock having impressed in the last two league games but with Elder having similarly caught his eye when making his Blues debut against Stanley. Jonas Knudsen is unlikely to be involved with the Dane set to move on at some stage during January.

“The two kids have been brilliant, they really have,” he said. “Two really good players, two good lads as well. I’ll decide on Friday.”

Jordan Spence will continue at right-back, while James Collins looks likely to make his debut at centre-half alongside skipper Luke Chambers.

In midfield, Skuse looks set to return in his holding role with Teddy Bishop appearing likely to start in one of the positions ahead of him after impressing having come on as a sub at Accrington.

Flynn Downes seems likely to continue in the other central roles with Huws, who has been out for 13 months, more likely to be a sub if he is considered ready for a return to the squad.

Up front, Lambert will have to choose between Keane, who made his Blues debut as a sub last week, and Quaner down the middle with the on-loan Hull City man perhaps getting the nod having played more first-team football recently.

Freddie Sears appears likely to continue on the left with Jack Lankester, Gwion Edwards or perhaps Quaner, although Lambert has said he sees the Huddersfield man as more a number nine than a wide player, on the right.

Town’s other new signing, winger Simon Dawkins, wioll probably be among the subs as he hasn’t played a first-team game since the end of the 2017 MLS season.

Rotherham, who were smashed 7-0 at Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend having beaten Preston 2-1 at home in the Championship the previous week, are expected to be without winger Joe Newell, due to a groin problem, while midfielder Richie Towell, who was watched by former Blues boss Mick McCarthy during his time with Dundalk, is suspended.

Full-back Billy Jones is expected to return having missed the Manchester City thrashing as a precaution having felt a minor niggle.

Kyle Vassell could be back in the squad after seven weeks out with a groin injury but Darren Potter and Jamie Proctor are longer-term absentees who won’t be involved at the weekend.

Jerry Yates and Michael Ihiekwe will be back in the squad having been cup-tied for the Manchester City tie.

First team coach Matt Hamshaw believes that the Blues shouldn’t be underestimated despite their current position in the Championship.

"They're a good team, as everyone is in this league,” he told iFollow Millers. “I know people look at the table and say we should be going there with the target to win.

“We will be doing that, but it is difficult. They've got good players. Anyone that saw the game earlier in the season probably saw a first half which saw us get dominated for the majority.

“These lads always show that work, energy and enthusiasm and always stay in a game. We'll be setting up to get a positive result.”

The Blues have won 14 of the previous games between the sides, all of which have been in the league, eight have ended in draws, with the Millers having won nine, including the last two.

Town have won only once at Portman Road this season, while the Millers, whose victory over Preston is their only success in the last 11 in all competitions, are yet to secure an away league victory this season. In total, they have gone 14 away league games without a win and 38 in the Championship, having spent 2017/18 in League One.

In August at the New York Stadium, Michael Smith netted a 90th minute winner as Paul Hurst’s Blues were beaten 1-0 by the club where he spent most of his playing career.

Town had been on top for most of game and were denied two very strong penalty claims before the Millers’ striker hooked home following a corner.

Last time at Portman Road in October 2017, David McGoldrick netted a brilliant low drive deep in injury time to grab Town a last-gasp 2-2 draw against the Millers, whose point at Town was one of only two they claimed on the road that season.

Sears had put the Blues in front in the third minute but man of the match Ward equalised four minutes later, then put the visitors in front three minutes after the break.

Town rarely looked like getting back on terms in a lacklustre second half until McGoldrick’s late strike.

The Rotherham squad includes ex-Town keeper Lewis Price. The 34-year-old joined Town as an academy scholar from Southampton and went on to make 74 starts and one sub appearance for the Blues between 2004 and 2007.

Millers central defender Semi Ajayi was on trial with Town in January 2015 when he played a game for the U21s.

Rotherham goalkeeper-coach Mike Pollitt enjoyed a one-game loan spell with the Blues in November 2006, helping Town to a 3-1 derby defeat of Norwich City at Portman Road before his stint was cut short by injuries at his parent club Wigan.

Currently injured midfielder Grant Ward was on loan at the New York Stadium from Tottenham in 2015/16 when he made 35 starts and eight sub appearances, scoring twice.

Tom Adeyemi, still sidelined following achilles surgery, spent the following year on loan with the Millers, making 29 starts and one sub appearance, scoring seven times.

Blues right-back Josh Emmanuel, who is on loan at Shrewsbury, spent last season on loan at Rotherham and featured in their play-off victory over Shrewsbury at Wembley. In total, he made 37 starts and one sub appearance for the Millers.

Saturday’s referee is James Linington from Newport, Isle of Wight, who has shown 64 yellow cards and no red in 19 games so far this season.

Linington’s most recent Town match was the 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest at the start of last month in which he booked Skuse and two home players.

His previous Blues game to that was one of 2018’s three home victories, the 2-0 win against Barnsley in April in which he booked Knudsen and one Tyke.

He also refereed the 4-3 win at Millwall in August 2017 in which he booked Iorfa, Chambers, Ward and Joe Garner as well as two home players.

He was in charge during the 3-1 defeat at Cardiff in March of the same year in which he booked only Christophe Berra and Brett Pitman.

Prior to that he was the referee in the 3-2 home victory over Blackburn two months earlier in which he booked Dozzell and Tom Lawrence and awarded Rovers a penalty which was converted by Danny Graham, Adam Webster having tangled with Hope Akpan.

Linington refereed the 2-1 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday in August 2015 in which he booked Jonathan Douglas and Ryan Fraser and two of the visitors.

Before that he officiated in the 3-2 home win against Blackpool in April 2015 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.

Earlier in the 2014/15 season he was the man in the middle for the 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest, when he booked only one home player, and the 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Portman Road in which he yellow-carded McGoldrick and three Teessiders.

Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Elder, Chambers (c), Collins, Pennington, Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Huws, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Lankester, Dawkins, Quaner, Keane, Roberts, Sears, Jackson, Harrison.

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dirtydingusmagee added 12:05 - Jan 11
COYB ,Lets get this one done and dusted ,3 points in the bag ,then go to war, we could still pull it off .

alexeasty99 added 12:08 - Jan 11
What I’m guessing is if/when we sell Knudsen, that’s the money will be using on signing a Right Back

boltzak added 12:16 - Jan 11
P.l said millwall would be facing a different team as well.

istanblue added 12:28 - Jan 11

Northstandveteran added 12:38 - Jan 11
I knew I'd read that headline only a short while ago.
I suppose it will be a different town side. Let's hope it will be better than the different side that faced QPR.

JimmyP45 added 12:39 - Jan 11
According to this, Pennington seems the most likely of the back 4 to be dropped. That scares me. I know he made one error against Millwall but he has been one of our most consistently best players.

Tractorboy1985 added 12:39 - Jan 11
Just give this man a 4 year deal and let him have total control of everything at Ipswich Town Football Club! Plans need to be put into place.. this is what money you have Paul etc etc and just let him do it.. looks to have the man management skills of mick but actually wants to play football the way we like to see it! The players he’s targeting are the sort we should have in the summer.. unfortunately wurst was so out of his depth... possibly is too late to save us but in Paul Lambert I certainly do trust!

OldClactonBlue added 13:02 - Jan 11
JimmyP45 look back at the goals conceded, starting with Bristol City and see if you still think Pennington is blameless. Better than Chambers though in my opinion. I wonder what effect dropping Chambers would have on morale though.

Bergholtblue added 13:26 - Jan 11
Collins and Chambers in defence is not going to be blessed with speed, Drop Chambers (blow the morale, its points we need) and keep in Pennington.

hadleighboyblue added 13:28 - Jan 11
Amazed we haven't signed a right back . Move Pennington over to right back tomorrow and bring Bart back in .

BlueySwede added 13:39 - Jan 11
boltzak They sort of did..we were a threat going forward..Our defence was as bad as ever. Anyway! Now we need our third win.

beornioblue added 14:01 - Jan 11
Sounds ok apart from..Spence ..why is he still in at RB Pennington can easily do that job better !!

He played RB in one of the games under Wurst and was very quick, direct and wanting to get forward..everything that JS isnt

Orraman added 14:37 - Jan 11
Just as Jonathan Douglas was undroppable by MM, so it seems that Jordan Spence is undroppable by PL.

inghamspur added 14:45 - Jan 11
Surely Spence isn't starting?

sixtyblue added 15:06 - Jan 11
Spence and chambers should at most be on the bench.The two biggest culprits this season and end of last.

Les57 added 15:38 - Jan 11
As soon as we get decent players around chambers you will see a difference. At present he is trying too hard and having to do too much. In my opinion he is one of the best captains the town have ever had. I put him up there with Mick Mills and Matt Holland.
It is also noticeable that every manager we have had in his time here always pencils his name in.


positivity added 16:32 - Jan 11
26 in the squad now!
some worries in that proposed line-up:-

-is collins fit to start?
-if he is, would like to see him alongside nsiala or pennington rather than another oldie in chambers
-would like to see kenlock given a run, he's done nothing wrong, will send a poor message if all the kids are dropped
-are keane or quaner fit to start?
-would love to see two up front, a more mobile player like sears/jackson/harrison/lankester playing off the target man, i guess this could happen with the 4-3-2-1 if the 2 go narrower

RaymondovicBlue added 16:35 - Jan 11
Chambers back at Right back - Penn and Collins in the Centre.

TimmyH added 16:50 - Jan 11
Oh dear! - didn't Lambert say this about the home Millwall game, hope this is not a bad omen.

Gcon added 17:09 - Jan 11
Huge game.

We can make a big difference tomorrow as 12th man. COYB.

ChrisFelix added 17:11 - Jan 11
Got excited reading this, then spence Gerken together with proper blokes chambers & skuse were mentioned !!!!

muccletonjoe added 21:25 - Jan 11
Spence , Gerkin, Chambers , Sears, I thought it would be a different team. Looks same old same old to me

SheptonMalletBlue added 21:38 - Jan 11
Well said sixty blue, Chambers is an absolute liability, he should be dropped!! Pennington and Collins for me.

algarvefan added 22:31 - Jan 11
I think we need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water!! Remember what too many changes did at the start of the season. I think PL will be sensible, I'm not going to try and second guess the guy, so lets wait and see the team selection tomorrow. As a long time supporter I'd at least like to see a team have a good go and fight hard for everything. We have had too many pedestrians in the side this season!

shakytown added 00:01 - Jan 12
Algarvefan. Nice analogy except for the fact that the baby is not in the bath water it's in the dunny waiting to be flushed. We are so far in the poo we need a complete change of thinking about the game so some of the old hands need to go now and whether he loves the club or not Chambers is gash and needs to go. We need a captain with a different attitude to non performing players on the field and we need it now.

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