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Lambert to Make Changes as AFC Wimbledon Visit Portman Road
Monday, 19th Aug 2019 17:15

Town boss Paul Lambert says he’ll make “one or two” changes to his side as the Blues face AFC Wimbledon at Portman Road on Tuesday, the teams' first ever meeting, with games coming thick and fast.

“There’ll be one or two because of the number of games we have,” Lambert said. “Where I don’t want to get caught is when you play 10 or 15 games and somebody’s got to come in out of the cold and you’re asking them [to come straight in], it’s unfair on them. There’ll be one or two changes but I trust them to go and perform.

“If we play 15, 16, 17 games with the same team and two or three get injured and we ask two or three to come in, it’s really difficult for them to get up to speed.

“I trust them to go and perform, so that’s important for us because the number of games we have here is vast.”

After a couple of matches against expected challengers Sunderland and Peterborough, which ended in 1-1 and 2-2 draws respectively, the Blues now have a run of matches against less-fancied sides.

Having hosted the Dons, they then travel to crisis-hit Bolton - whose midweek game against Doncaster has been called off for player welfare reasons but with there being no suggestion of the Town match being in similar danger - and then take on Shrewsbury at home.

However, Lambert says he will be treating those fixtures no differently: “I think every game is tough. If people think the games are easy, no game’s easy. There’s never been a game I’ve been involved in that’s easy, so we need to treat everybody with respect.

“It’s going to be a tough game. We have to be where we are at the minute and keep on that front foot, the way we play.

“I’m happy with a lot of aspects of the game, there are one or two things where we can do a lot better, but we’ve got a young team as well, who, as I keep saying, are learning on the job and they’re getting better and better.

“There’s a decent little mix. The thing that does give me concern is the lack of numbers in the squad.”

He added: “We had that the first three games, everybody looks at certain blocks. Every game’s hard. Only look to the next game.

“We came [to Peterborough] and it was like a home game. I thought we did some really good things, some things we can do better and if we keep playing the way we are, we won’t be far away.”

Wimbledon are currently 18th in League One having drawn one - Saturday’s 1-1 at home to Accrington Stanley - and lost two having climbed away from the danger zone in the final weeks of last season and secured their place in the third tier on the final day of the campaign.

“It’s a hard game. They’re coming to our stadium, we’ll have a big crowd again and we’re playing well in a lot of aspects of the game,” Lambert continued.

“I’m happy with the team three games into the season, there are some really good things there. Young Idris [El Mizouni] came on [at Peterborough] and did some really good things, [Luke] Woolfenden again is getting better.

“There are a lot of good things there. If they can handle the pressure that’s on us and the target that’s on our back. If we don’t lose, you’re going to be in it.”

Among the familiar faces in the Dons squad is Irish midfielder Shane McLoughlin, who Lambert allowed to move on in January having come through the academy.

“I watched the kid in a few of the U23 games and he did fine, but the lad had to go and play games. Good luck to him,” the Blues boss added.

Tomas Holy is again set to start in goal with skipper Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden again likely to be the centre-halves.

Lambert could give new signing Kane Vincent-Young his debut at right-back although the former Colchester man was considered a doubt at the weekend with a toe injury. If not, Janoi Donacien will continue with Myles Kenlock again at left-back.

In midfield, the Blues boss may may want to stick with his central midfield duo of Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes, although may opt to move to a three, which could see Alan Judge or Idris El Mizouni play behind a lone striker.

That would probably be James Norwood with Kayden Jackson more likely to be the man to drop to the bench. If Lambert sticks with 4-4-2 Norwood and Jackson would continue their partnership.

Gwion Edwards looks set to be left out after two games in five days having not played since April with left midfield another area in which Judge could potentially return to the XI for the first time in the league this season. It might be a big ask for new loan signing Anthony Georgiou to make his first senior start so soon after joining the Blues.

Danny Rowe has started all three league games but could be another who is rested with El Mizouni and Andre Dozzell alternatives even if both prefer to play in the centre.

Having faced the Blues, AFC Wimbledon then make the trip to the North-East to take on Sunderland on Saturday.

“Of course [we’re looking forward to it],” manager Wally Downes told the London News Online when asked about the two fixtures.

“We wanted to be a League One team, and we are a League One team. Going to places like Sunderland and Ipswich is fantastic for the fans and fantastic for the players. We’ve got to go there and put on a good performance.

“We put a good performance on at Sunderland last year and was unfortunate to come away with a 1-0 defeat.

“I’m not sure, but I don’t think the club have ever played at Portman Road, so it’s going to be great going there on Tuesday. We need to certainly be at our best over the next week.”

He added: “They will certainly be powerful in this division. They have a great footballing tradition and it’s a wonderful stadium when it gets going.

"We will certainly have to be on our mettle to get something out of the game. We are going to have to be solid and strong."

Defender Will Nightingale (knee) and former Blues midfielder Anthony Wordsworth (achilles) have returned to training, however, are not yet ready but otherwise Downes has a full-strength squad to pick from.

Town and AFC Wimbledon have never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture since the Dons’ formation in 2002. The Blues had sold 15,500 seats for the game as of Monday morning.

In addition to McLoughlin, who made one Championship sub appearance and one League Cup start for Town having come through the academy, the Wimbledon squad includes two more ex-Blues.

Wordsworth was at Town between January 2013 and June 2015, making 10 starts and 10 sub appearances, scoring twice.

Irish winger Dylan Connolly moved to Portman Road from Shelbourne in January 2015 before departing for Bray Wanderers in July 2016 without making a senior appearance.

Tuesday’s referee is Robert Jones from Merseyside, who has shown 12 yellow cards and no red in his three games so far this season.

Jones’s most recent Town match was the 3-0 defeat at Millwall in October just prior to Lambert taking charge in which he booked only Matthew Pennington.

Jones was also in charge of the East Anglian derby against Norwich City in September last year in which he booked Chambers, Jordan Graham and one Canary.

Jones refereed three Town matches prior to that, the 1-0 defeat at Brentford in April 2018 when he booked Jonas Knudsen, Callum Connolly, Cameron Carter-Vickers and two Bees.

Before that he was the man in the middle for the 1-0 victory over Leeds in January 2018 in which he red-carded Eunan O’Kane for head-butting Knudsen in the 37th minute. He also booked Dominic Iorfa, Connolly and two Whites players.

Jones was also the man in the middle for December 2017’s 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough when he showed two yellow cards to home players before being replaced by fourth official Geoff Eltringham at half-time.

Squad from: Holy, Norris, Donacien, Vincent-Young, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Ndaba, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, El Mizouni, Rowe, Roberts, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood.

Photo: TWTD

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MaySixth added 17:19 - Aug 19
2-0 Town
Norwood, Jackson

ringwoodblue added 18:00 - Aug 19
Why should Bolton be allowed to postpone their match on player welfare grounds? Our players have to play 3 times in 7 days so why can’t theirs? They will now have an advantage of fresher legs against us. Feel for their club and supporters but either they can fulfil their fixtures or they can’t! It should be the same for everyone.

BasingstokeBranch added 18:06 - Aug 19
Pretty sure we played AFC Wimbledon away in a League Cup fixture in 2006ish?

Guthrum added 19:29 - Aug 19
Not according to any source I can find, Basingstoke.

HALLSJ added 19:46 - Aug 19

ITFC_9_96 added 21:51 - Aug 19
Dobra was man of the match for Ipswich against Luton and scored on his debut, and then he is rewarded by not even being picked to be in the squad for the next 2 matches?


OliveR16 added 22:23 - Aug 19
Re Saturday: 'no suggestion the Town match is in similar danger'????
When a club is postponing its own matches and with no likelihood of their off-the-field situation improving by Saturday it seems obvious that situationally that match is in very great danger. Bolton certainly won't want to play it if they can avoid it without extra sanctions. They's expect to be in far better shape for a rearranged fixture later in the season.

Linkboy13 added 06:39 - Aug 20
Don't think we would be making changes if we had won 3 nil on Saturday.

raycrawfordswig added 07:02 - Aug 20
Could be any score with our defence .

PortmanTerrorist added 07:33 - Aug 20
Bolton have a team of youth players due to the state of the Club. Would PL or any other self respecting manager put a 16 or 17 year old, with no previous first team football, into a run of 4 games in 2 weeks?

Let's focus on tonight, 3 points, and then schooling those kids on Saturday - even with a bit of rest, if we can't pick up 3 points there then we have problems.

VanDusen added 09:02 - Aug 20
Completely agree @Ringwood Blue. Also - what has ever happened about their failing to fulfil a fixture last year?! Seems remarkably unfair that the history books will show Town bottom in 18/19 1 point behind a team that cpuldn't complete all their fixtures?! Yet despite being told they would be disciplined they still haven't been - the 12 point deduction this season was just the blanket penalty for going into administration. I've emailed the EFL to ask about this but - surprise surprise - no response as yet. Maybe now they have called off another game this will be dealt with?

BuckieBlue added 09:23 - Aug 20
After 3 opening fixtures against sides we've played against in the Championship in the not too distant past tonight V AFC just brings home how far we've fallen. Onwards and upwards!

Facefacts added 10:01 - Aug 20
This is a must win game. The squad is good for this level and has quality. Our players have to raise their game from Saturday, zeroise mistakes, handle the expectation of being favourites, and find a way of winning, even if AFC park the bus or grab a goal. The longer we stay in this league, the harder it will be to go up.

cat added 10:11 - Aug 20
I’m up for tonight’s game and generally optimistic for the season ahead. Obviously we will see where we are at after 10 games or so, but we need some wins to build some momentum and kick on from there.

TimmyH added 10:26 - Aug 20
I can see Dozzell starting tonight as one of the changes - about time he delivered, I think we'll win but only by the odd goal, certainly the type of game we have to win if we think we're promotion challengers and looking at Portsmouth and Sunderland at the weekend no reason why we can't.

JoHnNnY added 10:40 - Aug 20
Just play your best team ffs.. if they want a rest the can do my job all week. 🙄

IpswichT62OldBoy added 11:11 - Aug 20
Looking forward to this, it makes a change to feel positive.
In fact I have enjoyed the entertaining football, the energy and atmosphere in the crowd being both a reflection and a key part, a positive cycle.
I had forgotten how much fun it can be to support Town.
Long may it last, at least as long as the "Wilderness Years" we have endured and suffered through.

tractorboy12341234 added 11:12 - Aug 20
I don’t understand why bury and Bolton’s games aren’t being forfeited! I do feel sorry for them and their situations, but i feel the other clubs should have the sag in whether they are awarded the points.

warktheline added 11:12 - Aug 20
There’s only one team under pressure this evening! For everyone’s sake connected to the club let’s hope that they perform and deliver a positive result!

ITFCson added 11:18 - Aug 20
Ringwood - Bolton are not allowed to postpone a game. They are basically refusing to play, they cannot be physically forced to play. They will receive further punishment for the cancellation to further compound their miserable situation.
Their team is made up of teenagers. I can’t say I blame them and tbh feel sorry for them, must be a horrible situation to be in, especially for the fans.
I really don’t think we should be complaining about the extra rest their teenagers will be getting. If we can’t beat their team on Saturday regardless of the extra rest they may of had then we may as well give up now!

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 11:34 - Aug 20
We will need to get stuck in tonight. But with PL in charge, hopefully no-one is going to be complacent: “I think every game is tough. If people think the games are easy, no game’s easy." Having said that, anything less than a win will be disappointing to say the least. My guess is just one or two team changes, with Georgiou on the bench, and maybe Dozzel back in the starting line-up. Hope to see our new left back in action at some point too, but we shall see.

Pilgrimblue added 11:34 - Aug 20
I'd go with Jackson/Norwood as they wont develop if PL reverts to only one striker.

Defo start with Dobra he'd be great with home crowd willing him on. Then give Judge other wing and see how it works with possibly Georgiou and Dozzy as subs.

Nobbysnuts added 12:03 - Aug 20
Strongest team should be played for every league game FFS! We need to get in the winning mentality. They are professional footballers for gods sake. This is what they train and get paid for. not to be cuddled after playing one match. God give me strength.

BobbyBell added 12:17 - Aug 20
I'd rather we played out best team consistently and pick up as many points as possible. If players get injured or suspended then worry about that when it happens. Getting points on the board must be the priority. Chopping and changing the team will cost us points and those injuries & suspensions may not happen for ages. I'm still a huge believer in a settled side playing together bringing the best results. How many points could we drop by worrying about what might happen?

Skip73 added 12:26 - Aug 20
Just play the strongest team and go for a big win for once. Its always the cautious approach. Why can't this club ever grab the bull by the horns and go for it?

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