Judge: Bad Run Will Make Young Players Stronger
Friday, 10th Jan 2020 14:46
Experienced Town midfielder Alan Judge has confirmed that he and the club’s other senior players see it as part of their job to stand up and be counted in terms of supporting the younger members of the first-team squad.
It is especially necessary now, at the mid-season point in the season, as Paul Lambert’s men seek to put a depressing run of 12 games without a win behind them, a sequence that has frustrated supporters and seen more flak than ever before in Lambert’s 14-month reign being aimed in his and the players’ direction.
Judge said: “This sort of thing happens in football. I’ve had it before in my career and Chambo, Cole, Nolo and Freddie have all had it.
“It’s part and parcel of football, so the younger guys will have to learn to take the bad with the good. You can’t always just get praise and it helps to make you stronger. You have to keep going.
“I totally get the fans’ frustration and as players we feel exactly the same. They just want to see the team doing well, which is fair enough, and it’s down to us to provide that for them.”
Judge is a big fan of young team-mates Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden, both of whom have been the subject of speculation that they could depart in the January transfer window, with Championship pair Fulham and QPR respectively said to be interested in the academy graduates.
“Flynn has come on massively, Woolfy’s the same, and first team football is great for them,” said Judge, who would like nothing more than for the duo to stay at Town for the remainder of the season.
“They could go elsewhere and sit in the reserves, playing just now and again.
“You look at Flynn and the improvement in him, game after game after game, and you see how good he has become.
“I love these lads, even though Flynn calls me Grandad every day and I’m only 31. No, he’s a great lad, he’s bubbly and he’s got that bit of anger about him, which I like. He can look after himself but he’s also a good ball-playing midfielder as well. He will get to the top, definitely.”
Judge is chasing a double end-of-season target – promotion back to the second tier with Town and a place in the finals of the Euro 2020 tournament with the Republic of Ireland, now managed for the second time by ex-Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy.
He is pleased that McCarthy has continued to select him, despite his drop down a level to League One, and added: “As I’ve said before, Mick tried to sign me a few times and he knows me from years gone by.
“I was here before, nearly six or seven years ago, and I nearly signed. For one reason or another it didn’t happen.
“But when he brought me back into the squad last year I felt I did well for him and contributed when he needed me.
“I haven’t started games, which I understand when he’s got Premier League and Championship players, but when he’s brought me on I’ve felt that I played a part.
“I think that’s what keeps me in there, plus he knows the type of player and person that I am as well, and I think that’s a big thing for him.
“It’s exciting to be in with a chance of playing on such a big stage. But it’s also a bit weird as I’ve never been part of anything like it before.
“It’s just the way the play-offs coming up in March have been structured. We’ve got Slovakia away and if we get through that we’re playing Northern Ireland, so one of us is definitely going to go through to the final stages.
“It would be unbelievable if I got there, considering I missed the Euros in 2016 when I was injured. I felt like I was going to go but the injury prevented that.
“This time, I feel I have made a contribution, whereas in 2016 I was just starting to get in and around the squad towards the end of the qualifying campaign.
“I’ve played in four or five of the qualifiers and I feel I’m really a part of the squad, so it would be really special for me to be in the finals.
“I was out for two years with injury and when you go through times like that you can easily think it is never going to happen.
“Two years out is a long time so I’ve missed a lot of football and I’m now making up for lost time.
“I just want to play as many games as I can for Ipswich and if I’ve got a big tournament to look forward to in the summer it will be great.”
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