|Ipswich Town 2 v 0 Wigan Athletic|
SkyBet League One
Sunday, 13th September 2020 Kick-off 12:00
Town Begin League One Campaign as Crisis Club Wigan Visit
Friday, 11th Sep 2020 17:28
Town begin their 2020/21 League One campaign against crisis club Wigan Athletic on Sunday in a behind-closed-doors live-on-Sky game at Portman Road (KO midday).
The Latics are in administration and the midst of a resultant player exodus and were only given the go-ahead to start their league season by the EFL on Thursday.
However, Blues manager Paul Lambert says the Latics shouldn’t be taken lightly because of the position they currently find themselves in with the situation unlikely to preying on the players’ minds when they take to the field.
"I think they forget it,” he said. "I think for that 90 minutes they forget it. Players just want to play. I think it's what's behind the scenes that probably causes a little bit more turmoil.
"The lads out there, you never know what they're thinking. I know they've lost a few guys, but they've still got some good players there.
“Lee Evans, who I know really well from my time as Wolves, is a really good player, the lad Joe Garner, who was at this football club, I think is a good player, Gary Roberts is a good player, so they've still got some good players there.
“It's a dangerous game because we don't know what personnel will play but let's see what happen.
“I watched them against Fleetwood the other night and they were 2-0 up [before losing 3-2]. I thought they played really well in the first half then Fleetwood came into it and did well.
“It’s a dangerous game because it’s a hard game. They’ve just come down and regardless of what team they play, those guys will give everything they’ve got. It’s a dangerous game and we have to be at our best to win.”
Former Leeds, Sheffield United and Republic of Ireland midfielder John Sheridan was named Wigan's new boss following his previous club Waterford's 2-0 victory over Bohemians on Friday night, Leam Richardson, former manager Paul Cook’s assistant, having been in caretaker charge.
“John’s an experience guy, so I don’t think he’ll be fazed by it,” Lambert said. “It’s the inside of the club that’s more alarming than anything else.
"John knows the game, he was a really good player in his day, he’s been a manager a long time as well, so I don’t think he’ll walk into something he doesn’t expect. He’ll know what’s happened there and I’m pretty sure he’ll surf through it pretty quickly."
Lambert is looking for his team to get their promotion campaign up and running with three points at the first attempt: “That’s the aim. If we play the way we have been [we should do that], I believe we've been playing really well.
"We've guys with a lot of form at this minute in time, so it's just about turning that performance into wins, and if we can do that, then it'll be a good start.”
Has having an additional day to prepare after Tuesday’s game against Arsenal’s U21s benefited his players? "Maybe. I don't really pay too much significance when we play whether it's Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
“It doesn't really bother us, it gives you that extra day's recovery, but no, I think we're playing well and let's see what happens.”
Lambert seems likely to field the team which convincingly beat Bristol Rovers 3-0 last weekend in the Carabao Cup.
Asked which of his keepers would get the nod at this morning’s press conference the Blues manager gave nothing away, jokingly claiming Town legend Paul Cooper would be between the sticks.
Tomas Holy appears the favourite to face the Latics with David Cornell on the bench.
Skipper Luke Chambers is likely to continue at right-back with Stephen Ward at left-back and Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden the centre-halves.
Nsiala missed Tuesday’s EFL Trophy tie against Arsenal’s U21s as he was feeling his hamstring in the warm-up but the DR Congo international is expected to be fit for Sunday’s match. If not, James Wilson will come into the team for his first appearance of the season.
In midfield, even with Flynn Downes back in the fold, Lambert is set to continue with Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop, the trio having impressed him in the opening two games.
Up front, Aaron Drinan is set to make his English league debut with Alan Judge on the right and Freddie Sears on the left.
Strike pair James Norwood and Oli Hawkins are likely to be among the options on the bench, along with Emyr Huws and Jack Lankester, who is still waiting for his first appearance of the season. Flynn Downes may also be in the 18 for the first time.
New Wigan boss Sheridan said he was leaving Waterford with a heavy heart following their Friday night victory but said he couldn't rebuff the opportunity to take charge of the Latics.
“It’s an opportunity I can’t turn down," he told WLRFM. "I’m very grateful a club like Wigan have come in and offered me the job.
“I’m going to Wigan in difficult circumstances, they’re in administration but it was something I couldn’t really turn down.”
The 55-year-old says the move makes sense for him with his family based in the region.
“Leeds/Manchester way, so all in and around the area," he added. “Obviously for me travel-wise and commuting-wise [that's ideal].
“I’m going into Wigan hopefully to try and do well there and try and lift the spirits. It’s difficult, whether I’m the right man for the job, but they’ve offered me the job and I’m going in there with a 100 per cent chance to turn things around.”
Reflecting on Sunday's game at Portman Road, he said: “It couldn’t be any harder. I’m on a half-past six flight in the morning and then we’ll train tomorrow and then we travel to Ipswich.
“They’re all tough games, there are some big clubs in that league now. It will be very difficult but hopefully we can [get a result]. Everything’s happened very quickly this week, so I just want to go in there and hopefully try and hit the ground running.”
The Latics were relegated from the Championship in July having been deducted 12 points after going into administration shortly after Next Leader Fund had completed a takeover from another Hong Kong company, International Entertainment Corporation. But for the deduction they would have finished 13th.
Since then, the Lancastrians have sold former Blues striker Kieffer Moore to Cardiff, left-back Antonee Robinson to Fulham, centre-half Cedric Kipre to West Brom, striker Joe Gehardt to Leeds, winger Jamal Lowe to Swansea and midfielder Josh Windass to Sheffield Wednesday, while several other players also departed at the end of the season leaving them with a very depleted squad.
Full-back Nathan Byrne completed a move to Derby yesterday, while skipper Sam Morsy joined Middlesbrough on Friday morning. Only one starter - Kai Naismith - remains from the team which drew 1-1 with now-Premier League Fulham on the final day of the Championship season on July 22nd.
They have brought in two players on Friday, former Nottingham Forest centre-back Danny Fox, 34, who was previously with the Latics during the second half of last season, and 26-year-old ex-Brentford right-back Josh Clarke.
Historically, Town have beaten the Latics six times (five in the league), have lost six times (five) and the teams have drawn twice in the league and in one League Cup tie.
The Blues have won four of their last six games against the Latics, drawing the other two.
Town have won only 10 of their last 49 home league games, while Wigan were defeated in just one of their final 15 matches before their relegation from the Championship. They were beaten 3-2 at Fleetwood in their only game so far this season, Garner scoring both their goals.
The teams last met at the DW Stadium in February 2019 with Town on their way to relegation from the Championship when the game ended 1-1.
Former Blue Garner netted an injury time equaliser to deny 10-man Town victory after Will Keane’s 32nd-minute penalty had given the Blues a 1-0 half-time lead, seven minutes after Jonas Knudsen had been red-carded.
In December 2018 at Portman Road, Freddie Sears’s 67th minute goal saw Town to a 1-0 victory at Portman Road, Lambert’s first win as Blues boss.
In atrocious second-half conditions, Sears’s shot deflected past Latics keeper Christian Walton to secure Town their first home win since April of the same year and only their second victory of that season.
Blues midfielder Emyr Huws was with Wigan between the summers of 2014 and 2016, initially on loan, but made only 15 starts and one sub appearance without scoring.
Town club secretary Stuart Hayton is a Wigan fan who worked at the Latics for more than 20 years.
Ex-Blues winger Gary Roberts, now 36, moved to Wigan from Portsmouth in 2017, following his former Pompey manager Paul Cook.
Roberts joined Town from Accrington Stanley, initially on loan, in October 2006 and made 45 starts and 14 sub appearances, scoring four goals before moving on to Huddersfield in July 2018.
Striker Joe Garner moved to the Latics from Town for £1.25 million on the final day of 2018’s summer’s transfer window having joined the Blues the previous year from Rangers. He made 29 starts and three sub appearances while at Town, scoring 10 goals.
Latics centre-half or left-back Pat Webber moved to the DW Stadium on a free transfer from the Blues in August 2019 following a trial in the previous January. The 21-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for Wigan having played one first-team game for the Blues, the League Cup tie at Crystal Palace in August 2017.
Wigan winger Anthony Pilkington was close to joining the Blues on loan in January 2019 before opting to move to the Latics on a free transfer from Cardiff.
Striker Will Keane, who was released by Town at the end of 2019/20, has been on trial with the Latics, scoring in a recent 5-1 friendly victory over Bolton.
Wigan goalkeeper-coach Nick Colgan was with Town between January and July 2008 without making a first-team appearance.
With the game live on Sky, iFollow Ipswich coverage is only available to season ticket holders.
Sunday’s referee is Thomas Bramall from Sheffield, who only refereed five games last season, showing seven yellow cards and no red.
His only match so far during this campaign was the 0-0 Carabao Cup tie between Sunderland and Hull City last week, which the Tigers won on penalties, in which he waved three yellow cards. Bramall will be refereeing his first Town match.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Edwards, Ward, Smith, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Wilson, Ndaba, Dozzell, Bishop, Downes, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Lankester, Sears, Drinan, Hawkins, Norwood.
Photo: Matchday Images
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