Drinan Set to Miss Two Months, Woolfenden Not Ready to Return
Friday, 18th Sep 2020 10:08
Blues striker Aaron Drinan could miss the next two months having suffered a thigh injury in last week’s League One opener against Wigan Athletic, while Town continue to have a number of other injury absentees ahead of Saturday’s visit to Bristol Rovers, including centre-half Luke Woolfenden.
Drinan, 22, has made a big impression since the start of the season having made his Town debut in the Carabao Cup tie against the Pirates a fortnight ago almost two years after first coming to the club.
“No, they’re out,” Lambert said when asked whether Drinan and Woolfenden, who picked up a groin problem in training a week ago, would be back for tomorrow’s match.
“The two young lads are out. Aaron’s more severe than Woolfy is but those two kids won’t be available.
“Aaron will be out for a couple of months. That’s football I guess, and that’s what you get when you have six months off. You know that anyway, that’s what can happen.
“Aaron will be missed for a couple of months, especially when he’s done that well for us. Nobody expected him to come in as quick as what he’s done and he’s playing really well for us, so you just have to get on with it.
Lambert says no one would have expected Drinan to have made such an impact in the early weeks of the season and feels for the Irish U21 international.
“That’s the predicament we are in really, and I can guarantee nobody would have thought we’d be talking about Aaron at this stage of the season, nobody would have thought that.
“He was terrific in training and made me think, 'OK, I’m going to give you a chance here'. He impressed me in training and to be fair to him he took his chance and was playing ever so well. These things happen, but he’s proven to me that he could do something for us.
Lambert says Drinan is now viewed as a first-team player who will come straight back into the fold rather than dropping into the U23s once he's fit.
With Drinan out, Lambert seems likely to have to start either James Norwood or Oli Hawkins as his lone central striker, but with neither yet at full fitness.
“Oli Hawkins’s game-time has been down, but I thought he was excellent the other night, so we’ll see how James is.”
Is Norwood capable of replicating Drinan's link-up play? “He’s going to have to because Oli Hawkins is great at it as well.
“Oli’s game-time is not what we’d like because he came in a bit later, but James as well, he can definitely score goals and if he can add that to his game then great. But Aaron Drinan is a definite blow that’s for sure.
“Gwion has done well in the last two games, he did well when he came on against Wigan,” Lambert added.
“And he did well the other night, so I’m really happy with how he’s playing. As I said, I’ll see how all the guys are this morning and how they are feeling.”
“Hopefully he trains this morning and we’ll see how he feels. This game is too soon for him,” he said.
Could he be back next week? “He’s been out a long time and it takes time to get back to fitness again, but we’ll see how he is this morning.”
Cole Skuse also remains out of action with the knee injury he suffered in training prior to the Cambridge friendly.
Although frustrated at losing Drinan at a time when his other central strikers are not fully fit, Lambert says it’s not to be unexpected in the current circumstances.
“That’s the predicament we’re in,” he reflected. “That’s the situation, this virus has caught everybody, not just us, a lot of teams, and we’ve played a lot of games in a short space of time already.
“I think we’ve got to cram in maybe 50-something games maybe in 35 weeks, which is an incredible time, but everybody’s in the same situation.”
Asked whether he believes Town have more injuries than other clubs, Lambert said: “I wouldn’t go down that route. The whole league is 22 or 28 per cent on average higher with injures [since returning from the lockdown] so it’s just the way football is.
“It’s six months off, it’s not normal, it’s not a normal situation with guys having that time off.
“I remember watching the German league when it first started in lockdown and guys were going down like flies with injury just because of the length of time they’d been off.
“It’s just a really dangerous time that we’re going through at the minute and guys that are athletes are asked to go really quickly.
“That’s why I don’t get why we have the cup competition, the EFL Trophy and things like that. Surely your body dictates that you can’t play game after game after game, it doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense.”
Lambert says right-back Kane Vincent-Young remains sidelined with the injury he suffered in pre-season. Quizzed on when he thought the former Colchester man might return, he said: ”I don’t know, his achilles is still giving him problems, so I don’t know.”
Centre-half Corrie Ndaba is also still out but is improving after suffering a knock late in the EFL Trophy tie against Arsenal’s U21s: “Dead leg, not too bad, getting better, but not too bad.”
In addition to the longer-term absentees, Lambert says a few players have knocks from Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Fulham: “We’ve still got one or two from the other night. Again, that’s the long time off and a lot of games coming in succession, so there’s one or two from the other night, but we just have to get on with it.”
Better news is that Jack Lankester is over the concussion he suffered in training: “Yes, he’ll train this morning hopefully and we’ll see how he feels.
“It’s been a real hard time for him. Just with the two back problems and then he battled back and he trained and got a slight concussion on the side of the head the other day, so we had to watch that.
“We’ll see how Jack is this morning, he’s had the time that you give when you’ve had a bit of concussion, he’s had the medical checks and the time to get back better, so we’ll see how he is this morning, and again I’ll look at him.”
Lambert says Flynn Downes is fine having made his first appearance of the season as a sub against the Cottagers following the Crystal Palace bids and his subsequent transfer request.
“He’s good, as I said the other night, just let the lad go and play,” he said. “He’s a young kid who is learning the game, learning the pitfalls of it, the ups and downs, just let him go and play. Whatever happens with Palace will happen, just let him go and play. He’s OK.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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