Chambers: Near Three-Week Break a Little Difficult
Monday, 25th Nov 2019 16:38
Luke Chambers may be fully behind boss Paul Lambert’s squad rotation policy but admits Saturday’s clash with promotion rivals Blackpool was difficult as it came 18 days after his previous taste of League One action.
Town had three fixtures, two in the FA Cup against Lincoln and the Leasing.com Trophy fixture at Colchester, in between their 1-0 win at Rochdale on November 5th and the 2-2 home draw with the Tangerines – with Chambers only one of several senior stars who were rested by Lambert.
Chambers said: “It’s tough. You’re always trying to, sort of, fill different little roles throughout the team because, if you’re not playing in the team with a two-day lead up to it, you’re trying to give the lads the best support you can and maybe you don’t get as much training as you’d like or not as many high-volume minutes.
“We’ve had quite a lot of training as well but when you’re not playing you’re not getting a rhythm and it’s quite difficult.
“But I thought the lads definitely came out of the blocks sharply at the weekend and we gave a good account of ourselves. But we didn’t win the game so we’re a little bit disappointed.
“I have always said that I want to play in every game but at the end of the day the manager has made no secret of it from day one – this is what he wants to do this season and he’s got a squad that’s big enough to cope with all these cup games, so there will be that big number of games if we continue to stay in the cup competitions.
“That’s down to us as a squad to deal with it and perform when we’re asked, but to have nearly three weeks of a break was a little difficult.
“We got the cobwebs out of our system on Tuesday last week when the gaffer organised an in-house game and, like I said, I felt the lads gave a good performance at the weekend.”
It was a frustrating afternoon for the 34-year-old central defender as he felt he was harshly punished by referee Stephen Martin’s decision to award a penalty for a challenge on Blackpool’s Sullay Kaikai, which enabled the visitors to take a 2-1 lead soon after the restart, Jay Spearing netting from the spot.
The long-serving Chambers added: “Their player got a yard or so and I just tried to run alongside him and block the shot. I’ve not tried to win the ball, so that was my frustration. I’ve not even slid towards him. I slid alongside to block the angle of the ball.
“You saw the reaction from the boys – the whole team couldn’t believe it – but that’s what happens. It will be another one that you just have to look back on, shake your head and get on with it.”
Chambers, who has clocked up 338 first team appearances for Town since being signed by then manager Paul Jewell in the summer of 2012, is looking to add as many as possible to that tally between now and the end of the season.
He continued: “I want to play as often as possible. That’s what I want to do. I’ll play in the cup games, I’ll play whenever. I feel good at the minute and I’m not suffering from any injuries.”
Looking back on the loss of two points at the weekend, he said: “I’m proud of our defensive record – 12 goals conceded in 16 league games. But we conceded two on Saturday – and contentious from my point of view. They’ve had two opportunities in the game and they’ve scored two goals.
“It was a performance where we did really dominate for the whole game. They didn’t really get out of their own half too much, did they? Maybe that was their game plan but it was a little bit of a frustration that we didn’t really capitalise on the possession and the chances we could have created.”
But Chambers still believes Town are on target to regain the Championship status surrendered last season, adding: “We need to be looking at each other and thinking that we are a group of players who should be going up.
“Yes, we’ve had a good start to the season but we need to continue it now because a third of it has gone and we still need to win a lot of games.
“We have the games in hand, the ones we missed out on, and we want them to come thick and fast. We’ve had a bit of time off but not many players like that – we want to be playing week in, week out and that’s what we’re looking forward to in the next few weeks.”
Chambers’s regular partner at the heart of defence – at least for league games – is 21-year-old academy graduate Luke Woolfenden, who clearly benefited from last season’s loan spell at Swindon when he scored twice in 32 League Two games.
He said: “Luke is just a tremendous lad. He’s a good professional, he’s got a very, very cool head on his shoulders and that can be an advantage to him because he’s not overawed by any situation.
“He just continues to go about his business. I think we’ve played off each other pretty well so far. He understands the way I play and I understand the way he plays.
“It’s nice and it’s really good to see him bouncing, moving forward from what he did last year. That shows the benefit for any young player looking at their route to the first team.
“If they can get some minutes under their belt out on loan anything can happen. He came back, proved himself in pre-season and he hasn’t looked back since.
“All the defenders are working together in training. There have been lots of changes throughout the season. We’ve played three at the back, we’ve played a back four and the gaffer has mixed it up as to who plays centre-half.
“We’re all pretty comfortable with each other and we do a lot of work on that. It’s whoever he picks at one o’clock on a Saturday who has to play together as quickly as possible.
“I think we’re better at the minute with three in midfield. We’ve had some good performances with 3-5-2 but I think every game is taken with a pinch of salt.
“The manager sits down, assesses all the opposition and decides which way to go. I think we’ve got enough in the dressing room to play 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 3-5-2.
“He’s got that many options to choose from and that’s probably why we’ve seen quite a few formations so far this season.”
Right-back Janoi Donacien is one player who made the most of his cup appearances this month, retaining his place against Blackpool at the weekend as Lambert made 10 changes from the side that won through to Sunday’s FA Cup second round clash with Coventry courtesy of a late Alan Judge goal, his first for the club, in the first round replay win over Lincoln at Sincil Bank.
While Kane Vincent-Young continued his recovery after groin surgery in Qatar, Donacien caught the eye and Chambers admitted: “I thought he was our man of the match at the weekend and to perform like that, knowing how Kane has been flying since he came into the club, was great credit to him.
“He maybe thought time wasn’t on his side but full credit to him – his professionalism, his attitude, the way he trains, the way he plays and the way he is around the place is top-class, he is a fantastic player to have at the football club. Full credit to him for bouncing back and taking his opportunity.”
Both Chambers and Vincent-Young recently featured in a League One team of the season, based on early-season form, but the former added: “I did see that but it will only mean something if we succeed at the end of the season and maybe if I’m in it then.
“My aim is to get this club promoted and whether I’m in the team of the year or not is of no relevance to me whatsoever.”
Asked if he felt Town should be in the market for reinforcements during the forthcoming January transfer window, Chambers said: “You can argue it would be a good move and do no harm at all to try to strengthen.
“But we’ve got a helluva lot of players so that’s down to everyone who’s in charge of that side of things.
“You always welcome new players in and especially the ones you think could possibly take us over the line. We’re in a good position now and probably need to capitalise on that.”
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