Lambert: We Have to Make Changes at Luton
Monday, 12th Aug 2019 16:04
Town boss Paul Lambert says he has no choice to make changes to his team as the Blues face Championship Luton Town in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday evening (KO 7.45pm).
“We don’t have a massive, massive squad with the lads coming back from injury and that, so we have to change,” he said.
“I was going to say the young guys will get a chance but they are young, but we’ll definitely have to look at a few changes without a doubt.”
He added: “There’s a game Saturday, a game next Tuesday, a game Saturday, maybe a game the following Wednesday, then Saturday, then Tuesday, then a game Tuesday, then a game Saturday. For me there are too many games, it’s not healthy for the game.
“You can’t keep flogging the same players game after game, I’ve said that from day one, that's why the squad needs strengthening a little bit.”
Lambert says he will take the opportunity give some of those players currently lacking match fitness game time, including Emyr Huws, while he had planned to start Alan Judge until giving the Irishman longer than he had anticipated against Sunderland on Saturday following Luke Garbutt’s knee injury.
“Emyr obviously needs games, Judge, I don’t know [whether he will start], I need to see how he feels after Saturday, but there will be a few changes, we have to, we’ve no other option, we have to,” he said.
Asked whether young fringe players such as Corrie Ndaba, who Lambert said he was close to giving a debut to at the end of last season but ultimately without doing so, might be involved, the Blues manager added: “Luke Woolfenden I thought was excellent on Saturday, but it’s a big ask for that kid to go Saturday, Saturday, Tuesday, it’s really tough. There’ll be changes in that area as well.
“I left out James Wilson because James hadn’t done a pre-season and he came off last Saturday with a massive cramp, which I knew was going to happen.
"We can’t majorly take a risk with James either. We’re trying and give people game time and that's what we’ll try and do.”
Lambert confirmed that Will Norris, who recently joined on loan from Wolves, would make his Blues debut in goal: “Will will play.”
Despite the changes, Lambert insists that he is aiming to win the tie: “I’m a great believer that if you’re in something you go and try and win it, you go and try and win it the best you can and I trust everybody to go and do everything they can to try and get through.
“If you're in a competition you go and try and win it or there’s no point, you may as well pull us out of it.
“We’ve got many fans going there as well, so we’re [going to go to try and win it]. It’s a really tough game but we’ll go and try and win.”
Second-guessing the 10 in front of debutant Norris is a near impossibility, however, it’s likely skipper Luke Chambers will be one of the centre-halves, partnered by either Ndaba making his debut or Wilson.
Myles Kenlock is again likely to be at left-back, although there is perhaps a chance that Bailey Clements could be handed his debut, while Josh Emmanuel could come in for Janoi Donacien on the right.
In midfield, Lambert seems likely to take the opportunity to rest Flynn Downes, against the club where he spent time on loan in 2017/18, and Cole Skuse, which would see Emyr Huws and Andre Dozzell handed their first starts of the season.
Town have limited options options out wide at present, which could see Jordan Roberts make his first start of the campaign on the left with Garbutt likely to be unfit.
On the right, Lambert may well want to rest Danny Rowe, the former Macclesfield man having been one of the Blues’ star performers so far this season.
Idris El Mizouni could be in his manager’s thoughts for that role having featured there last season, although the Tunisian international is primarily a central player, while Armando Dobra might be in line for a debut at some stage.
Judge seems likely to start off a lone out-and-out striker who will be either James Norwood or Kayden Jackson with the Blues having no other option at present.
Lambert’s Luton counterpart Graeme Jones says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll make changes to his team for the cup tie.
“I haven’t made my mind up yet,” he told Dunstable Today. “I want to see how the group from the weekend comes back today, see if they’re fresh and we’ll have a look tonight.
“We’ll have a training session tonight, seven o’clock, in preparation for tomorrow. The priority for me is to be as competitive as we can, to win the game, so that will be my first port of call.
“If that comes with seeing one or two new faces, then so be it, but I want to put a side out that’s capable of winning the game first and foremost.”
Defender Martin Cranie and keeper Simon Sluga are both expected to be fine despite having had cramp and a knock respectively at the weekend.
Jones says he’s got almost all his players available to him: “Alan’s [Sheehan] trained really well the last two days and Danny Hylton had a good period of work now, as has Kaz [LuaLua].
“So, apart from young Jake Peck and Frankie Musonda, we’ve got a fully fit group to choose from.”
The Hatters drew 3-3 at home to Middlesbrough in their opening game and then lost 2-1 at Cardiff on Saturday.
The Luton squad includes James Bree, who signed on loan from Aston Villa on deadline day having spent the second half of last season with the Blues on a similar basis making 13 starts and one sub appearance.
Ryan Tunnicliffe signed for the Hatters earlier in the summer having spent the first half of 2013/14 on loan with Town from Manchester United, making 24 starts and five appearances from the bench.
Luton keeper Marek Stech had a trial with the Blues early in the 2011/12 campaign but didn’t win a contract. Midfielder George Moncur is the son of former Blues loanee John Moncur.
Downes was on loan with the Hatters in the second half of 2017/18, making seven starts and three sub appearances, while Donacien grew up in Luton and was with their youth set-up as a schoolboy before moving on to Tottenham and then Aston Villa.
The teams last met in the same competition two seasons ago, also in round one, when the Blues, then in the Championship with the Hatters in League Two, won 2-0, David McGoldrick netting both goals in the Blues' only cup victory in the last three seasons.
That victory was Town’s last win in the competition, while their last success over a team from a higher division was the 1-0 defeat of West Brom in the quarter-finals in 2010/11, although they beat Arsenal by the same scoreline in the semi-final first leg but were ultimately defeated 3-1 on aggregate.
Town and the Hatters have been drawn together in the competition on two further occasions.
In November 1987 John Duncan's Blues were beaten 1-0 at Portman Road in the fourth round of what was then known as the Littlewoods Cup with Brian Stein on target. The Hatters went on to win the trophy that season.
Luton were also victorious in a two-legged second round tie between the sides in September 1998, winning the Kenilworth Road match 4-2 - David Johnson and home defender Sol Davis netting for Town and Andrew Fotiadis, Stuart Douglas, Davis at the right end and Marvin Johnson for Luton - after George Burley's Town had won 2-1 at Portman Road when Manu Thetis and James Scowcroft were on the scoresheet for the Blues.
Overall, the Blues have won 12 games (eight in the league) between the sides, Luton 12 (nine) with five (three) having ended in draws.
If the game is level after 90 minutes the match will go straight to penalties.
The draw for the second round, again regionalised on a north-south basis, will take place live on Sky following Tuesday's Salford City-Leeds United tie.
The referee is Brett Huxtable from Devon, who has shown three yellow cards and no red in his two games so far this season.
Huxtable’s only previous Town match was the on-penalties Carabao Cup defeat at Exeter last August in which he booked Jonas Knudsen, Toto Nsiala and one Grecian.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Donacien, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Ndaba, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Judge, El Mizouni, Rowe, Roberts, Dobra, Jackson, Norwood.
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