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Lambert: Downes Faces Fight to Get in Team
Friday, 11th Sep 2020 10:53

Blues boss Paul Lambert says he is aware of no further developments on Crystal Palace’s interest in Town midfielder Flynn Downes, who he says now faces a fight for a place in the team.

At the end of last week, Lambert gave Downes a few days off to clear his head, the academy product having been the subject of rebuffed offers of £1.2 million and £1.6 million - rising to £2.5 million after top-ups - from the Eagles before handing in a transfer request.

The 21-year-old was left out of the 18 for both Saturday’s Carabao Cup victory over Bristol Rovers and the EFL Trophy loss to Arsenal’s U21s. In his absence, Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop have impressed as the midfield trio.

Asked how Downes is and whether he would come into consideration for Sunday’s League One opener against Wigan, Lambert said: "No, listen, the team has done really well, and I think everybody knows the midfield three have been brilliant, so it's up to other guys to get in the team, and they know that.

"I think the team is playing really well at this minute with the football that they are playing and it's up to people to push them out. So we wait and see with all the guys who's OK for today and tomorrow, and we just wait and see.”

He added: "Listen, he's got a fight on his hands to get back into the team with the three of them playing. You've got Cole Skuse hopefully coming back and Emyr Huws doing well, Judgy can play that role, so there's a lot of competition now I think in that area.

"It's probably the strongest area of the pitch that we've got the centre of the park and it's up to people to force their way in.”

Quizzed on whether Downes is available for selection for Sunday, he continued: “I’m just going to look at all the guys now. I’ve not seen them. They had a day off yesterday, so I’ll see them this morning and I’ll judge it from there.

"As I speak to you, I’ve not seen the guys or the physio to see how everybody is and I’ll judge it from there. Until then I don’t know who is available, and who is not.”

The Town manager confirmed that the England U20 international had been back training this week: “He trained the other day after the weekend. But I can’t focus on one person, I have to focus on the team.”

Asked whether there have been further bids, he said: "I've not heard anything, to be fair. As I said before, the two most important people in any transfer are the buying club and the selling club and the hierarchy.

"They are the ones that dictate everything, and if they came with a bid that totally matched Marcus's value, then I'm pretty sure Marcus would listen. But until then, I don't think there will be anything happening.”

What does he see as the best thing for the player right now? “I think he’s going to listen to the people who [consider his] welfare and have his career at heart. The lad’s a really good player. His head was all over the place, which I totally understood.

“It was me, I’d have played [against Bristol Rovers], which was why I did [initially] pick him to play. But he’s still not 100 per cent in the mindset, he’s training, but I still think the lads in front of him at this moment in time have earned the right to play and are playing really, really well.

“I feel a bit for him because of the way it’s gone for him. He’s only 21 and he’s come a long way since we came in. I’d just hope that his head becomes clearer as the weeks go by.”

Has he had a conversation with Downes regarding a way back in at Town if the Palace move doesn’t take place? “Yes, he’s obviously got to come to myself and see how he feels. My door is always open for him to have a chat, which I told him right at the beginning anyway.

“I would just hope that he does reassess his mindset of where he is, maybe still hanging on to October, and maybe the deal might happen, but you’ve got to play, you’ve got to want to play and show people that you can do it and be a professional about it.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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afrodids added 11:04 - Sep 11
Sorry but I don't believe that! Dozzell Downes Bishop all starters for Sunday!

casanovacrow added 11:06 - Sep 11
Rubbish, he's our best player and would start every time if he wasn't downing tools to force a move ..probably at the advice from his agent due to their self-interest.
I wouldn't give in to it, unless an acceptable offer comes in for the player he can either get on and honour his contract and play (will full commitment like the professional he should be) or I'd fine him for breaching it for the duration/make him train with the kids. He'll have a long wait to run that down.

hadleighboyblue added 11:06 - Sep 11
It's sounding like PL is happy to see Downes and Jackson go . That can't be the best option for ITFC as we won't be able to replace like for like , they are much more valuable to Town by playing for us .

Downes in particular is someone we need , he adds steel to midfield that others don't .

The 2 reported offers are not enough , but get the feeling PL is not exactly encouraging them to stay

Len_Brennan added 11:13 - Sep 11
It's not encouraging at all for those of us who want Downes to stay & play. Very evasive answers from Lambert there. If he's back from his few days off he should be starting against Wigan, unless the club has decided to seek him or he is refusing to play.

Len_Brennan added 11:13 - Sep 11

JDAndCoke added 11:15 - Sep 11
I actually really like this attitude from Lambert. Lots will think Flynn has a divine right to be in this team based on ability. However, we wanted less rotation from PL this year. Lambert has been man enough to admit his mistakes from last year and told players to 'keep the shirt'. Based on the last two games, Bish and Doz have been fantastic and Nolan scored against Arsenal and therefore deserves his chance too. Cant knock Lambert for sticking to the principles he laid out a few weeks ago, ones that we all wanted from him

dangerous30 added 11:20 - Sep 11
The manger wants people who want to play for the club which is understandable if Downes don’t then why would you play him?

SaigonTractor added 11:29 - Sep 11
This is actually a tough one for me. I'm very happy that Lambert wants a more settled squad and an attitude of "keeping the shirt". But on the other hand Downes is comfortably our best player.

I think Lambert should stick to his principles because it sends a poor message out otherwise. "you earn the shirt, unless Downes doesn't get sold in which case tough luck" isn't exactly inspiring.

don_john added 11:31 - Sep 11
Think this is spot on personally. We wanted less rotation and the midfield have done well, so why should he waltz straight back in, especially when his head is elsewhere and he doesn’t want to be here.

Chrisd added 11:32 - Sep 11
Play your best available side PL and that means Downes starts.

martin587 added 11:38 - Sep 11
For once I do agree with PL.He May well be one of our better players but remember he did request a transfer.He has not played in the previous two games so as PL states “whoever has the shirt keeps it”I personally felt the midfield did a very good job over the last few games and definitely deserve to start on Sunday.

bobble added 11:43 - Sep 11
isnt he off top some second rate club ?

billlm added 11:54 - Sep 11
Yes ok Paul,

Terry_Nutkins added 12:02 - Sep 11
Right approach. With a reasonable prospect Downes will go he is taking the correct stance.

timkatieadamitfc added 12:16 - Sep 11
Great we can play Skuse instead now, what an absolute pile of crap, he’s our best midfielder and should be in team until sold, anyone who thinks he’s not our best is blinded by the fact he wants away, something you cannot blame the lad for as much as I want him to stay.

BlueMachines added 12:25 - Sep 11
Can’t see Nolan keeping Downes out of the team on merit very long based on the Bristol game I saw. Agree Flynn needs to know this is a team game though and can’t just expect to start if he isn’t fully committed. Get agents out of the game. Absolutely draining the game of decency, loyalty, integrity and money too.

chepstowblue added 12:36 - Sep 11
I'm glad that I'm of the opinion that Downes is so ordinary and overrated that I couldn't care less if he plays,stays or goes. He's not gifted on the ball, is not creative, doesn't score enough, and his lack of pace and technique will have him shown up horribly at the highest level. He basically runs around a lot !! The talented midfielders in league 1 from Oxford,Peterborough,Portsmouth have already been snapped up,yet for some reason we think he's something out of the ordinary.....he isn't. I'd sooner have the gifted trio of Dobra,Bishop and Lankaster in the side and let the want Downes take a fortnights counselling and sit in the stand. Bless him.

chepstowblue added 12:37 - Sep 11
*want away*

Blue041273 added 12:39 - Sep 11
There are no winners in this situation! Downes wants away and Lambert doesn’t want him around until he is prepared to commit fully to the cause! Evans appears not to want to let him go cheaply! I can appreciate all their points of view! But it means that in the meantime he won’t play so the team and the fans lose out too!

MonkeyAlan added 13:10 - Sep 11
Good on Lambert for once. We can't pussyfoot around one player. Either man up and get in the team, or possibly play reserve football for the season. Im not sure Palace will come back to be honest. He isn't seen as a first teamed, so no loss to them, they can move on. Downes new agent may have played this all wrong for him and it could backfire yet.

keighleyblue added 13:21 - Sep 11
The transfer window shuts mid October. Downes will be straight back in the team after the deadline closes (if he's still here by then). No way will Evans unnecessarily risk one of his potential highest sell-ons.

rugbytomc added 13:39 - Sep 11
If we're picking players on form - Downes gets in ahead of Nolan. Not only is he consistently better than him, but he also plays a different role and provides more balance to that midfield 3. For me, Downes or Skuse would ideally play every game (but not both at the same time) and if they can't then I'd put Huws there. Nolan should be competing with Dozzell, Bishop, Judge and Huws for the other 2 midfield slots.

62WasBest added 14:07 - Sep 11
Think all this is, is a bit of psychology to focus Downe's mind on football and getting back into the first team after his distractions, and nothing more.

Les57 added 14:38 - Sep 11
Lamberts way of saying we are going to sell him so will not play him. Does not want him injured and jeopardise the sale. We have a strong midfield squad and others have played well, Dozzell especially. But, Downes was the best midfielder and most consistent player last year. Plus this year will only be better. He will go, it’s just getting the right price for him.

Linkboy13 added 17:54 - Sep 11
Our midfield is badly lacking a ball winner and i can see the problems as last season when the competitive stuff starts. All of a sudden the players that let us down last season and the season before have become world beaters on the strength of one win in the Micky mouse cup.

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