Lambert: It Would Be Great to Go Through and Draw One of the Big Guns
Friday, 29th Nov 2019 18:00
Blues boss Paul Lambert says it would be great to win Sunday’s second-round FA Cup tie against Coventry City at St Andrew’s and the draw one of the “big guns” in the third round. Town ended their near-10-year 15-game winless FA Cup run by beating Lincoln 1-0 in their first-round replay just over a week ago.
Lambert, who has fielded much-changed sides featuring fringe players in the competition, but despite that approach says he enjoys the ties, as he does all other matches.
“I enjoy all of the games,” he said. “I enjoy all the games we’re involved in. I’ve been in the game a long, long time but I don’t think there’s ever been a game where I’ve thought I’m not into it.”
Lambert never played in the FA Cup as his career never took him to England but he fondly remembers winning the Scottish Cup with St Mirren as a 17-year-old when they beat Dundee United 1-0 at Hampden Park.
“My first one I was only 17 and played against a really good Dundee United side and I was in a really good experienced side, and I got a lot of help,” he said.
“At 17 you don’t realise what you’re playing in, the manager put me in and I had a decent game.
“But at that age you’re too young [to know what you're playing in] and thankfully I did it. It wasn’t until later on at Celtic that you know what’s involved. I don’t know how many I won [two more with Celtic], but it was nice to do it.”
Does the modern player have the same interest in the cup, particularly when promotion is very much the primary aim as it is for Town this season?
“I think so,” he reflected. “If we can get through this tie, then the big guns come into it and it would be great for this football club to play a Liverpool or Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham or someone like that.
“It would be great to get a big scalp. Even all the teams in the Premier League, that’s me doing everybody else an injustice, all the teams are up there on merit, and whoever we get if we did get through would be great.
“Any Premier League team, if we did get drawn with them, would be great because it would show the lads what’s on the other side of the coin.”
Moving on to Coventry, Lambert said: “It’s a good team playing in a good stadium, St Andrew’s is a nice stadium. We’ll go and try and do what we always do and try and go and win.”
Asked if it’s difficult to prepare for the match not knowing the strength of the team that Coventry will field - the Sky Blues made four changes for their 2-0 first-round victory at Colchester - Lambert added: “You can only concentrate on yourself and what you’re going to go with. You can see little bits of what they’ve done and try and implement your game plan.
“We’ll take great support, our stadium is absolutely buzzing at the minute, the atmosphere in the stadium is great, the crowd are coming back and they will go up there in their numbers again. So it’s a helluva big swing from what it was a year ago.”
Asked whether the league match between the sides the following week, again at St Andrew’s, is more important for both teams, Lambert said: “Every game is important. As I said before, we’ll try and get through it and I don’t think about next week because this one is the most important [at the moment].”
One thing Lambert, whose side has won only one of their last five in all competitions, drawing three, desperately wants to avoid is the game not being settled in the 90 minutes.
“I don’t want a replay, that’s for sure," he admitted. "If we can get it done and we go through then great.”
As usual, second-guessing a Lambert cup team is all but impossible. In goal, the Blues boss could stick with Tuesday’s penalty hero Tomas Holy but equally he might start Will Norris, who he revealed could be recalled by Wolves in January earlier this afternoon.
It is possible that Town could stick with the 3-5-2 utilised against Wycombe with Coventry also having used that system recently, however, Lambert may instead opt for the 4-3-3 formation which started at Lincoln in the replay.
Toto Nsiala seems certain to start at centre-half with one of James Wilson or Luke Woolfenden with skipper Luke Chambers not having featured in the cups since the Carabao Cup exit at Luton in August.
Myles Kenlock would be the left-back with Gwion Edwards at right-back with Janoi Donacien unlikely to be involved as he is the only senior out-and-out right-back following Kane Vincent-Young’s injury.
In midfield, Lambert seems likely to recall Andre Dozzell, while Flynn Downes could return having been ill for the Wycombe game but having been back in training later in the week.
“Flynn has had a virus but he trained this morning," Lambet said. "He’s another one we will have to look at before I decide on the squad and the team.”
Emyr Huws could also continue having played 82 minutes against the Chairboys but it seems likely Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan will be rested. Youngsters Brett McGavin and Idris El Mizouni are alternatives for a midfield role.
Up front, Lambert suggested James Norwood was unlikely to play so soon after Tuesday’s match at his press conference, despite the former Tranmere man being suspended for the league game against Coventry, so it seems likely that Will Keane will be the lone central striker.
Alan Judge and Anthony Georgiou could be the widemen, although Armando Dobra may also hope for his first start since the initial tie against Lincoln.
Jordan Roberts could be among the subs having returned to action with the U23s earlier in the week following his toe injury.
For the Sky Blues, who are unbeaten in their last eight in all competitions, winning four, striker Max Biamou is expected to return having been banned for the last three League One games for a red card.
Another frontman Matty Godden - joint-top scorer with Amadou Bakayoko with four - remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Wesley Jobello, Jodi Jones (both ACL) and Josh Pask (ankle) are all also out.
Coventry manager Mark Robins says the Blues will present a stern challenge for his team, who are currently fifth in League One, five points behind Town having played one game more.
“It’s a game against a top side, a team that’s got strength in depth and come down from the Championship and they will pose a tough test for us, but a game we can look forward to,” he told the Sky Blues official site.
“We’ve got them twice in a week so that’s something else to throw into the mix and in between that we’ve got a Leasing.com Trophy game against MK Dons away on Tuesday night which is obviously a quick turnaround.
“So, do you apportion the significance to each game, which is difficult to do because they’re all important, so we’ve got to look at ourselves and try and do what we can to get through to the third round because it’s a big thing for us.
“There’s a lot of considerations, you look at the games in quick succession, you do something different in this game as to the next one but I think ultimately we have to do what’s right for us without worrying too much about the opponent but being respectful of what they are.”
He added: “They’re a really good strong side with good players in the team. You look at their strengths and their press is as good as anything that we’ve seen in this division.
“I think the players that they have like Kayden Jackson and James Norwood and Will Keane up front, they’ve got a lot of players in there who are outstanding and that’s just the forwards.
“Luke Chambers has been in there for a long time and is a really experienced centre-half, young Woolfenden’s come in and they’ve got a strong unit, Cole Skuse in the midfield, they’ve got a lot of players who’ve played in the Championship for a long time and I think there are threats in their side.
“He’s also got two XIs, he played different sides in the FA Cup last time and it’ll be interesting to see because I think Norwood’s suspended for our league game, he got his fifth booking the other day but we have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
“They’ve got a game in the Leasing.com Trophy [at Peterborough] on Wednesday as well so it’s an interesting game and it’s been an interesting week leading up to this game because there are a lot of things to think about.
“Going into it you’re solely focused on getting through, on the performance and what we can do to cause them problems and try and minimise the problems they can cause you but they’re a really good side and they’ve caused a lot of teams a lot of problems this year and we expect a tough game.”
Coventry have a good record at their adopted home this season, winning seven of their 10 league games at St Andrew's, drawing two and losing just the once, a 1-0 loss to Tranmere last month, the only one of their three defeats in all competitions to have been at home.
The last time Town failed to make round three of the FA Cup was in the 1955/56 season when they were defeated 3-1 away by Peterborough United at the first-round stage.
The draw for round three will take place at the Etihad Stadium on Monday 2nd December at 7pm live on BBC Two and the iPlayer when former Arsenal captain Tony Adams and ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards will be pulling the balls from the bowl.
Town have a good record against Coventry over the years, winning 37 games (35 in the league), losing 22 times (20) and with 23 matches (22) ending in draws.
The Blues and Coventry have never previously met in the FA Cup, although they have drawn one another in the League Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2000 when the Blues won 2-1 at Portman Road, and once in the Simod Cup.
The teams last met at the Ricoh Arena in the Championship in February 2012 when Michael Chopra’s last-gasp winner saw Paul Jewell’s Blues to a dramatic 3-2 victory.
Town went ahead through a deflected Jay Emmanuel-Thomas shot but allowed the home side back into the game before the break via a Sammy Clingan penalty and Gary Deegan.
However, in the second half Chopra followed up Lee Martin’s penalty to equalise, then clinched all three points at the death.
Earlier that season, at Portman Road in September 2011, Town got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 live Sky victory over the Sky Blues.
A Martin Cranie own goal opened the scoring in the first half with Keith Andrews adding the second soon after and Jason Scotland sealing it after the break.
Sunday’s referee is Anthony Backhouse from Cumbria, who has shown 46 yellow cards and two red in 14 games so far this season.
Backhouse’s only previous Town game was the 2-0 defeat at Stoke last season in which he replaced the referee who had started the match, Geoff Eltringham, in the 39th minute and showed yellow cards to Gwion Edwards and Potters’ full-back Erik Pieters.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Wright, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, McGavin, Huws, Hughes, Nolan, Downes, Dozzell, Rowe, Georgiou, Judge, Dobra, Jackson, Norwood, Keane, Roberts.
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