|Bristol City 1 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Tuesday, 12th March 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Lambert Praise for Academy Kids
Tuesday, 12th Mar 2019 23:06
Town boss Paul Lambert had praise for the six academy players in his squad following the Blues’ 1-1 draw at Bristol City in which he believed his young team had been the better side.
Josh Emmanuel, Andre Dozzell and Myles Kenlock started, while Teddy Bishop, debut-maker Idris El Mizouni and Harry Wright - Dean Gerken was ill - were on the bench.
He also cited Flynn Downes and Jack Lankester, who are currently sidelined with illness and a back problem respectively.
“We had six academy kids playing, and two are on the training ground injured or not well,” he said. “And for them to come here and play like that was incredible.
“Guys that have not played, Josh coming in, Andre coming in. I made changes to the team which did brilliantly on Saturday because we had to have the edge again.
“But we were the better team. We had a wee spell where we lost the goal against the run of play. We started the game brilliantly, we were knocking the ball around.
“As I’ve said before, it’s not a normal situation playing like that at the bottom of the table. I’d love to have wins and all of that sort of thing but the future of the club is a lot healthier.
“As I’ve said to you before, six academy kids is unbelievable. It’s not happened since the great John Wark era, and Terry Butcher and Eric Gates and people like that, George Burley, Mick Mills, all those guys. It’s exciting and I think the supporters [are excited by it].
“It would probably have thrown everybody, nobody saw it coming but I had it in my head what I wanted to do. It think it’s really exciting for the team.”
Clarifying what he means when he makes the comparison with Sirt Bobby Robson's Blues, he added: “As a whole group coming through at the one time, I know George Burley’s era maybe they were drip fed coming in.
“I’m not comparing the kids to that [Robson] era, that was an unbelievable era that, they were one of the great teams I ever saw growing up.
“What I’m saying is that by numbers, six, maybe eight guys we’ve coming through. They’ve got one helluva career to go before they match that group. That group was iconic and it should be iconic for the club’s history, that can never be taken away.
“The club has to produce young players, a million per cent, and I think it’s an exciting time if they develop and keep their feet on the ground and don’t think they’ve arrived. But if they get anywhere near that era, we’ll have one helluva side!”
Lambert denied he picked his team tonight with one eye on League One, insisting it was more to do with keeping the side fresh after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at West Brom.
“The intensity of what happened on Saturday,” he continued. “Cole’s 32, Jonas has been playing really well but we still don’t know his contract situation. Obviously Kayden came in.
“Bish is coming back from two years out and has been absolutely brilliant for us, but we couldn’t run the risk.
“Judgey was the other one I was going to change. Nolan I thought could get through it again.
“There were one or two things that I thought we had to change a little bit, and Josh I had to see playing. I thought he did really, really well. Bree’s been doing excellent for us.
“If it had been a Saturday-Saturday game I probably wouldn’t have changed the team but because it’s Saturday-Tuesday I’ve had to give them that edge back. Performance-wise I was over the moon with them.”
He added: “I’m not playing them because we’re relegated. I’m playing because I think they can do something.
"We’re still in the fight. You guys have written us all off, ‘They’re preparing for next year and League One’. No we’re not, we’re not relegated. The fight’s still there.
“But the more you write it, the more say, ‘OK, they’re relegated’, but we’re not.
"So if I think the kids are good enough to play, it doesn’t matter whether we’re in a fight or not, they have to learn and they have to learn football and the professional level of the game. It’s the only way they’re going to learn.
“But football-wise, to play the way we did there against a side which is hovering around the top six or whatever it is… we should have beaten them at Portman Road and we should have beaten them tonight. With a bit of luck we’d have done it.”
Regarding Dozzell, he added: “Excellent, really, really good, really pleased. Honestly, it’s a really exciting time for the club, if the club goes this way.
“As I’ve said before, I don’t want to always get loans and loans and loans. You develop players for everybody else and throw your money in the wind.
“It doesn’t make sense. You’ve got to have a pathway for young players to come through and you can only really take a loan player if they’re 100 times better than the kids coming through. If they’re not, I’m not interested in it because the kids are really good here, so why stop their path?”
Tunisia U23 cap Idris El Mizouni, 18, became the latest player to make his debut as a sub in the second half: “He did really well the times I’ve seen him train with us. He’s played well with the kids when he’s played with his own age group.
“There’s only so much football you can play against your own age group before you get thrown into a men’s game, and I will drip feed him in and see how he does.
“Again, he’s been here since he was a kid and it was great for him. He did well when he came on. He smelt danger towards the end there and he’s another one with a big future.
“You can go through all these kids, every one has got a major contribution. But to play that way having not played for a while was excellent, I’m really proud of them.”
Asked if he expected more from Bristol City in the second half, Lambert said: “We’ve been playing well like that for a number of weeks, so it’s not new for me to watch the lads play that way.
“The results haven’t been in our favour but we’ve been playing really well. I thought in the second half Bristol City never really caused us anything at all worth worrying about.
“They’ve spent a few quid on players, but I had a team of kids which played with no fear and played great football at times. I knew it was going to be a tough game but I thought we were the better side.”
The Town boss says striker Collin Quaner should be back for the home game against Nottingham Forest.
“He has a little strain on his thigh, hopefully he’ll be OK for Saturday,” he said. “I thought Kayden came in and did great again.
“I thought he was excellent, gave them a hard, hard time. As I said before, barring about 10 minutes of the game, we were the best side.”
Winger Gwion Edwards was left out of the Wales squad announced earlier today, but Lambert believes the former Peterborough man has been playing well.
“Ryan Giggs will pick what he thinks is right and it’s his prerogative, so I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.
“But Gwion is playing really, really well, he had an injury that kept him out for few weeks but I think his performances, I think he’s been excellent, really, really good. He’s getting better and I’m delighted that his form is really, really high.”
Can he hit the level where he can get himself back into contention for Wales having previously been in squads but without so far winning a cap?
“I don’t see why not because he is playing well, Gwion,” he reflected. “His work-rate is fantastic, I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence at this moment. I don’t see why not if he really has a push at it.
“But Ryan has obviously picked who he thinks is the team, maybe some guys drop out, maybe Gwion’s on standby, I don’t know, but he certainly wouldn’t let you down, that’s for sure.”
Robins boss Lee Johnson admitted his team were under par against the Blues and was ultimately happy with a point which keeps his side in the play-off places.
“I won’t hide that the performance levels weren’t good enough but that could be the most important point of the season, we don’t know yet," he said.
“We’re sat sixth with 10 games to go and if we had a ticket at the start of the season to take that then I am sure we all would have done.
"I’m alright, obviously we wanted to win the game. We had a poor first 15 minutes, a good 30 minutes after but we didn’t get going in the second half."
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