|Ipswich Town 2 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur U21|
Tuesday, 3rd September 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Lambert: I Don't See the Point of the Tournament
Tuesday, 3rd Sep 2019 06:00
Town boss Paul Lambert says he doesn’t see the point of the Leasing.com Trophy and confirmed he will field a much-changed side in the Blues’ first ever game in the competition at home to Tottenham’s U21s (KO 7.45pm).
Following tonight’s match Town play Gillingham at home on Tuesday 8th October (KO 7.45pm) and Colchester away on Tuesday 12th November (KO 7.30pm) in the group stage.
Lambert confirmed that he plans to field an XI very different from the one which defeated Shrewsbury 3-0 at the weekend.
“Oh yeah, I don’t see the point of the tournament, I don’t see it, I don’t get it,” he said. “Too many games. So I’ll definitely change.
“I’ve got to play so many of the lads anyway, but I don’t see the point of the game or the tournament.”
EFL teams are obliged to field four qualifying outfield players in their starting XI. A qualifying outfield player is someone who started the club's previous match, someone in the top 10 players at the club in terms starting appearances in league and domestic cup competitions in the season up to that point, a player with 40 or more first-team appearances over their career or a player on loan from a Premier League or EFL side.
He added: “The amount of games is ridiculous, it’s too many. That’s why you get so many bad games, guys are tired and fatigued. That's just my opinion.
“Fans want to see good football, high quality football, they’re not going to get it with 60-odd games.
“That’s just my opinion, I just think it’s crazy to have another tournament. We have too many games in this country.”
He says he will use the depth of his squad for the game: “I’ve got enough players to play the game, we’ve got some young players that I might have a look at, some guys coming back from injury that I’ll have a look at, some guys that have not played so many minutes, so there’ll be many changes.
“But we’ll go and try and win, try and get off to a start in it but the league’s the most important thing."
Lambert said last week that Jon Nolan, who came on as a sub against his former club Shrewsbury, is likely to play having recovered from his calf injury.
Among those certainly in the XI is Emyr Huws, whose only start so far this season was the Carabao Cup defeat at Luton, while the Welshman has made two League One appearances from the bench.
“Emyr will definitely play, some lads are away on national duty. We’ve one or two that have not played will definitely play,” Lambert continued.
Town have had success in their discussions with the Tunisian and Albanian FAs regarding the availability of Idris El Mizouni and Armando Dobra - who have received calls at U23 and U19 levels respectively - but Anthony Georgiou is already away with the Cypriot full squad and is understood not to have been eligible against his parent club in any case.
Will Keane has played 45 minutes for the U23s since re-signing for Town and Lambert planned to talk to the former Hull City man at the start of this week to see whether he felt ready for tonight’s match as he continues his comeback from the hamstring surgery he underwent early in the summer. However, speaking yesterday, first-team coach Matt Gill said the game would come to early for Keane, although the striker may well be included on the bench.
Lambert says he can empathise with clubs who have made substitutions soon after kick-off in matches in order to get around the EFL’s rules, although they are now less stringent than they were when they were first introduced, the competition having moved to its current format with 16 category one clubs’ U21 sides in 2016/17.
“I can see that because there are too many games, far too many games,” the Town boss reflected.
Might he consider breaking the rules and just taking the £5,000 fine which would be imposed by the EFL? “No, because what tends to happen here is I get fined and I’m not taking the hit on that!”
In reality, Town would have little trouble in fielding a team which meets the EFL’s criteria even if they changed their entire XI with the only players with any first-team experience not meeting the criteria El Mizouni, Dobra, Andre Dozzell, who is away with England U20s, Bailey Clements and Barry Cotter.
Will Norris will be in goal, as he was against the Hatters in the Carabao Cup, while James Wilson will probably be one of the centre-halves having been left out against the Shrews at the weekend.
Lambert may use the game to give Corrie Ndaba his senior debut alongside the former Lincoln man, while Clements is likely to be at left-back and Janoi Donacien on the right.
In what’s likely to be a central midfield three, Nolan and Huws will be joined by El Mizouni with Dobra on the left and Danny Rowe or Gwion Edwards on the right with Jordan Roberts probably the lone striker.
Tottenham are required to start a minimum of six players who played at U21 level as at 30th June this year. They may include two players aged over 21, who have made 40 or more senior appearances. U21 sides play all their games away.
Last season the Spurs youngsters finished second in their group behind eventual winners Portsmouth and qualified for the knockout stage.
They lost their opening game 5-3 on penalties at Crawley following a 1-1 draw, won 4-0 at Gillingham and then were beaten 3-2 at Pompey. They exited in round two after losing 3-0 at Oxford.
The North Londoners’ U23s are currently third in Premier League Two, Division One having won two, drawn one and lost one of their four fixtures.
Among those who could be involved for Spurs is midfielder Shilow Tracey, 21, who was on trial with the Blues in 2015 while an Ebbsfleet player before moving to White Hart Lane.
Also potentially in the Spurs squad is Maurizio Pochettino, 18, son of first-team boss Mauricio Pochettino.
In addition to loanee Georgiou, Town have a number of links with Tottenham, Kane Vincent-Young was with their academy, while Donacien was also a schoolboy with the North Londoners.
Town's academy head of coaching and player development Bryan Klug was their assistant academy manager prior to rejoining the Blues' youth set-up in 2012.
The currently-injured Teddy Bishop is a Spurs fan and his father named him after Teddy Sheringham.
Tottenham's academy manager Dean Rastrick is from Woodbridge and is a former Farlingaye High School pupil.
With many fans boycotting the game due to the involvement of U21s teams - in line with other supporters across the country - and the general lack of interest in the competition, the attendance is likely to be around 5,000 and the club have opened only limited sections of the ground.
If the game is drawn at 90 minutes, it goes straight to penalties. Both teams would receive a point for the draw with the winners of the shoot-out getting an additional point.
Tonight’s referee is Craig Hicks from Surrey, who has shown 20 yellow cards and two red cards in six games so far this season.
Hicks’s only previous Town match was the pre-season friendly at Gillingham in the summer of 2017 which the Blues lost 2-1.
The Gills, who had Tomas Holy in goal, went in front via a soft penalty awarded by Hicks, who kept his cards in his pocket throughout, won by ex-Town midfielder Lee Martin following a challenge by skipper Luke Chambers and converted by Tom Eaves.
Squad from: Norris, Holy, Donacien, Vincent-Young, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Ndaba, Skuse, Downes, Huws, Nolan, Edwards, El Mizouni, Rowe, Dobra, Jackson, Norwood, Roberts, Keane, K Brown.
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