Lambert: One or Two Young Lads May Play at Colchester
Monday, 11th Nov 2019 16:08
Manager Paul Lambert says some of the Blues’ youngsters could be involved when Town take on Colchester United in their third and final Leasing.com Trophy group game at the JobServe Community Stadium on Tuesday evening (KO 7.30pm).
Lambert made 10 changes from last Tuesday’s 1-0 League One win at Rochdale for Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup home draw with Lincoln and the team which faces the U’s is likely to be even further away from what might be viewed as a first XI.
Asked what sort of team he might field at Colchester following Saturday’s game, Lambert said he hadn’t decided but felt under no pressure with the Blues already having confirmed their place in the knockout phase.
“We’re already through, we’re through in the group. I don’t know. I’ll see on Monday,” he said. “I’ll see, we’ve already qualified so I can pick what team I want.
“We’ve got to watch the lads, lads are never going to play 60 games, you’d be off your head if you think they can play that.
“I’ll pick a team, whether the young lads will maybe play as well, we’ll look at some of those guys. We need to see the younger guys to see if they can play in front of a crowd.
“So it’s good for the club, it’s great for the supporters to see one or two young ones getting thrown in.”
Lambert hasn’t held back in his criticism of the competition since the beginning of the season - “I don’t see the point of the tournament” - but he concedes it has helped the development of the likes of Armando Dobra and Idris El Mizouni, while he has also given senior debuts to Tommy Hughes and Tyreece Simpson.
“Yes, but Dobra or Idris, any of the guys, Ben Folami, you can go through them all, Brett McGavin, I’ve seen enough of them to know what these guys can do,” he added.
“It’s going into the first-team environment where they’re training with us and can handle training with us in the first place, rather than just throwing them into a game where it’s tough.
“So when they come up and train with me I know exactly what the guys can do and I know if they can handle it.
“Whatever team I play on Tuesday, as I say, we’re already qualified and we’ll go there and will try and win.”
Town are currently top of their qualification group and are definitely through to the next round, however, a point would secure top spot which would mean a guaranteed home match in the round of 32 against one of the runners-up from another of the eight southern-based qualification groups.
The draw takes place live on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday at 2pm with former Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison and ex-England midfielder Sue Smith in charge of picking the balls from the bowl.
Lambert would very much like to confirm a home tie in the round of 32, although he admits he’s not entirely au fait with the overall position.
“Yes, I don’t know the points in the group or anything like that just now, somebody just told me we’d qualified,” he said.
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.
Town have sold 2,600 tickets for the match and, with significantly fewer Colchester fans expected to attend, the Blues’ following is likely to dwarf home crowd.
“The support is brilliant,” Lambert reflected. “The biggest achievement is the crowd coming back, that’s the biggest thing because the crowd, what I saw a few years back maybe weren’t where they are now, but they’re in a really good place for the team, really good place for the club. That’s the main thing.
“So any game we go to, it doesn’t surprise me now because the way it is connected with the club. It’s great.
“It’s good that it’s only maybe half an hour down the road that they can come, our support is a brilliant support. The support we’ve got is phenomenal, absolutely first class.”
Town have had a very significant share of the crowds at a number of their games this season - 4,014 out of 10,071 at Peterborough, 3,360 of 10,167 at the MK Dons - but Tuesday is likely to be the first time the Blues have outnumbered home fans since their games against the old Wimbledon at Selhurst Park and the National Hockey Stadium in 2002/03 and 2003/04.
Lambert is restricted to the side he picks to some extend due to the rules of the competition with EFL teams 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. If clubs transgress that rule they face a £5,000 fine.
Lambert may opt to start Tomas Holy in goal - the Czech having missed the last three games - with full-backs Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock likely to keep their places.
Toto Nsiala may well be given another game at the heart of the defence as he continues his return from injury alongside either James Wilson or Luke Woolfenden.
Corrie Ndaba, who might well have stood a chance of a senior debut, joined Hemel Hempstead Town on loan on Friday along with young left-back Bailey Clements.
In midfield, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes are both away on international duty with the England U20s so Lambert will have to make changes there.
Emyr Huws could start again, although Lambert may be loath to give the Welshman two games in such a short space of time, especially with there being an FA Cup replay at Lincoln a week on Wednesday.
He could opt to bring in one of his senior men, such as Jon Nolan, while he may well be tempted to give a youngster a start, perhaps McGavin or Hughes.
Out wide, Anthony Georgiou could start as he did on Saturday, while Gwion Edwards or Danny Rowe might also be in the XI with Armando Dobra unavailable as he is away with the Albanian U19s squad.
Lambert might look to start Idris El Mizouni off his main central striker and who that might be is another question. Will Keane might not be given another start so soon after playing the full 90 on Saturday as he continues his comeback.
With Jordan Roberts out with a toe injury, Ben Folami away with Australia’s U23s and Ben Morris still on the way back from his cruciate knee ligament tear, Lambert may well be forced to start one of his first-choice front two, either James Norwood or Kayden Jackson.
Simpson could well be involved at some stage from the bench, while forward Kai Brown may also be included in the matchday 18 or at least the travelling squad.
Former Blues central defender and current Colchester boss John McGreal is hoping his club's fans will turn out in numbers given the big Town support.
"By all accounts, Ipswich have already sold over 2,000 for the away end," he told the Colchester Gazette.
"They're coming fully-loaded, which shows the terrific support they've got.
"But hopefully, despite our disappointing performance at the weekend [when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Coventry in the FA Cup], our fans will stick with us and get behind us because we need their support.
"We'd love our supporters, their family and friends, to come along so we're not outnumbered here at home."
The U's, who prior to the defeat to the Sky Blues had won three on the trot in all competitions, including a 3-1 Carabao Cup victory at Crawley which saw them into a quarter-final tie at Manchester United, are currently eighth in League Two.
Historically, Town have the edge over the U's having won 10 of the games between the teams and the U’s four, while another four have ended in draws.
Two of those 10 victories having come in cup competitions, both in the League Cup. In 1970 Bobby Robson’s Blues beat Colchester 4-0 at Portman Road and in 2008 goals from Pablo Couñago and Kevin Lisbie gave Town a 2-1 home victory over the U’s in a the Carling Cup second round tie, Steven Gillespie netting for the visitors.
That match was the last competitive fixture between the teams but the sides have played regularly in pre-season since then, most recently in July when Town thrashed the North Essex side 5-0 at the JobServe Community Stadium. James Norwood netted a hat-trick and Kayden Jackson scored twice.
The U's are managed by former Blues defender McGreal, while keeper Dean Gerken left Portman Road at the end of last season.
Another ex-Town defender, Tom Eastman, is a stalwart of the Colchester backline, while they added one-time Blues academy defender Omar Sowunmi to their squad from Yeovil over the summer.
Striker Frank Nouble was with Town between 2013 and 2015, while midfielder Diaz Wright is the son of former Blues midfielder Jermaine.
Colchester’s goalkeeper-coach Darren Smith left the same role with the Town academy to join the U’s in the summer. Smith had previously had a stint as the Blues’ first-team keeper-coach during Paul Hurst’s brief spell in charge at Portman Road.
Colchester's director of football is another ex-Town defender, Tony Humes, while Richard Hall - a Town supporter and youth player as a youngster - and Sean Thacker both work in their academy having previously coached at Playford Road.
Former Blues midfielder David Gregory is Colchester's press and communications officer.
Town boss Lambert was Colchester manager between October 2008 and August 2009.
Keeper-coach Jimmy Walker was on loan with the U’s from West Ham between November 2008 and March 2009, making 16 starts.
New academy keeper-coach Carl Pentney is also a former Colchester player, although without making a senior appearance, and hails from the North Essex town.
Currently injured full-back Kane Vincent-Young joined the Blues from the U’s in August for £500,000 having previously had a trial at Portman Road the previous summer.
Luke Garbutt spent time on loan at the Jobserve Community Stadium between September 2013 and January 2014, making 20 starts and scoring three goals.
Freddie Sears was with the U’s from January 2012 to January 2015, initially on loan from West Ham, prior to joining Town.
The striker, who is still a few months away from his return from injury, made 81 starts and 28 sub appearances for the U’s, scoring 36 times.
Andre Dozzell’s father Jason and Brett McGavin’s dad Steve are both former U’s players.
Tuesday’s referee is Sam Purkiss, who has shown 40 yellow cards and no red in 12 games so far this season.
Purkiss, who is in his first season as an EFL official following two years in the National League, will be taking charge of both Town and the U’s for the first time.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Wright, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, McGavin, Huws, Hughes, Nolan, Rowe, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood, Keane, Simpson, K Brown.
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