Taylor: Great Opportunity to Give the Kids a Run-Out
Monday, 5th Oct 2020 14:09
Assistant manager Stuart Taylor says Tuesday’s EFL Trophy tie against Gillingham at Portman Road will be a great opportunity for the club’s young players to go and gain first-team experience (KO 7pm).
The Blues go into the game having lost the first of their three group matches 2-1 to Arsenal’s U21s last month.
The competition is far from the Blues’ priority, as manager Paul Lambert has made clear, and as was the case last season Town will use it to blood young players.
“It’s another game in a busy schedule and it’s a great opportunity for us to go and give the young kids a run-out and have them get experience just as we did last season,” Taylor said. “Give them an opportunity to go and play and express themselves.
“The only difference this season is that they’re not going to play in front of a crowd, which is disappointing because that’s part of their development, to see how they can handle the crowd and experience that.
“Unfortunately for them they’re not going to be able to experience that this year but certainly pulling on the jersey and playing in the first team, it’s a great opportunity for them.”
Lambert said last week that the decision to play the competition this year was “ludicrous” and Taylor agrees it’s a tournament the club could have done without.
“Yes, I think so,” he concurred. “I’m not too sure what you can say and what you can’t about it but I think a bit of common sense in terms of the number of games that we’ve got in a very, very short season, dropping out a tournament isn’t really going to be a massive problem.
“But they’ve gone ahead with it, we’ve got a schedule to go and play with and we have to do that, so we’ll put out as strong a team as we have in terms of lads that are fit out of today’s game and I’m quite sure there will be a lot of young kids that will go and play.
“The benefits are that it gives them experience of going and playing in the first team, so it’s possibly a tournament we could have done without because of the way that life is at this moment in time.”
Last season the Blues gave eight young players, including the likes of Tyreece Simpson and Tommy Hughes, their senior debuts in the competition and Taylor believes they benefited from the experience.
“There was an abundance of them, Alex Henderson, Barry Cotter, Adam Przybek, there were a number of them that either made their debuts or had another game for the first team, and a lot of them have progressed from that and it’s helped them in their careers,” he said.
“Again, this season is going to be exactly the same, but it’s unfortunate there’s no crowd for them.
“All the work that we do, the only thing that we can’t replicate is playing in front of a crowd, so it’s up to them how they’re going to deal with that.
“Unfortunately they’re not going to have that experience this time but there’s still that intensity of playing against experienced pros and they’ll still get that experience having done that.”
Taylor says Town have tried to instil the same approach to the game into both the academy teams and senior side.
“I think that’s something the gaffer’s expressed since he came in,” he continued. “You try and stick to the same formation but the most important thing is the style of play that the first team’s doing and replicating that so when they do come in to play in the first team, they know their job, they know other people’s jobs about them and nothing should be any shock or surprise to them.
“We’ll let them know the strengths and weaknesses of the players they’re playing against and all they’ve got to go and do is handle that occasion, and mostly the difference is the crowd.”
The Scot says it’s important that there is a route from the academy teams into the senior side.
“One hundred per cent, the pathway is really, really important and there is a pathway at this club, which a lot of clubs don’t have,” he added.
“There is a pathway here and there is a pathway for a reason because the young kids are good players, the academy’s got a really good set-up and we’re grateful for that.
“We’ve helped to be part of promoting that and the progression and development of the younger players, and that’s what it’s all about.
“Especially at a club like Ipswich Town, they put so much time into the academy, the academy coaches have been great over the years and their success is shown not by winning games but by showing how many young players they’re getting into the first team. That’s success and it’s proven successful.”
He believes that with the introduction of the salary cap and the other pressures on clubs at present, nuturing young talent is going to be even more than previously.
“I’ve always been a big fan of bringing through younger players anyway, it’s always the way I’ve been,” he said.
“Certainly it’s going to be forced on some clubs, maybe some clubs might not be ready for it. Who knows, that’s nothing to do with me.
“But certainly our club is well set-up for bringing the younger kids through and it’s just a case of bringing them in when they’re ready.
“They can be good players when they’re playing in the U18s and in the U23s but they have to be brought in at the right time. Otherwise you can go the other way with it where they’re coming in and they’re not ready for it and it can be detrimental to them.
“But certainly when they’ve come up and played in the first team, it’s been the right timing for it and all the young lads have done very well, as we experienced last year. And I don’t think it’ll be any different this year.”
Taylor says they need senior pros around them to help them make the transition: “I think everybody forgets about that. As much as the work that you do on the training ground, as soon as they cross that white line, it’s really up to them.
“We can shout from the sidelines and try and help them a little bit but if they’ve got good experienced pros alongside them that can help them maybe move that couple of yards and put them in the right position and just talk them through the game, simple messages, then that certainly does make a huge improvement and a huge different to their development on the pitch, definitely.”
He says Tuesday's game could be a chance for some of the youngsters involved to put themselves in the shop window for loan moves with manager Lambert having said he’s keen to get the likes of Armando Dobra, Brett McGavin and Ben Folami out for spells to gain senior experience.
“For the younger ones, that’s certainly an option for them,” he said. “Going and playing first-team football might be part of their development and if that means this tournament puts them in the shop window to go out on loan, then brilliant, if the loan move is right, if it’s the right club.
“If it’s not the right club they’ll stay with us and maybe experience more games in the tournament.
“If not, then we’ll make sure they’re in the right environment to go and progress and develop here.”
Looking at Tuesday’s opponents, Taylor says he knows what to expect: “Gillingham are Gillingham. I think they’ll go long, I think they’ll be very aggressive, I think they’ll be looking at balls going into the box. They’ll have a big aerial presence and I don’t think they’ll be anything different from what they are.
“I don’t think there’ll be any shocks from that sense, so whoever is playing at centre-back needs to be aware they’ve a bombardment coming their way and they need to deal with it.
“But it’s good for them, it’s what centre-backs are used to doing, it’s part and parcel of the game.
“We’ll look to go and play football as we’ll always go and do. There are different styles in football. If you go and lump it, bang it back to front, you’ve got to go and deal with it and play against it. It is what it is, but it’s what we do.”
Second-guessing Lambert’s side and even his squad is very difficult given the stated aim to field youngsters and the Blues boss having said he’ll “take the hit, whatever comes our way” for fielding an understrength team.
The rules of the competition oblige clubs to field four qualifying outfield players in their starting XI.
A qualifying outfield player is someone who started the club's previous match, starts the following first-team game, someone in the top 10 players at the club in terms starting appearances in league and domestic cup competitions in the season up to this point, a player with 40 or more first-team appearances over their career or a player on loan from a Premier League or category one EFL side. If clubs transgress that rule they face a £5,000 fine.
David Cornell seems likely to start in goal as he did in the Arsenal U21s game and the Carabao Cup tie with Fulham.
Janoi Donacien will probably be at right-back - with Barry Cotter on the bench - with Tommy Smith perhaps the left-back with Myles Kenlock unlikely to be risked with Stephen Ward having been forced off with an achilles injury on Saturday.
At the heart of the defence, new loan signing Mark McGuinness is cup-tied having faced the Blues in the previous game for the Gunners.
Corrie Ndaba, who made his senior debut in that match, could well start again, perhaps alongside Luke Woolfenden, who is back in training following his groin problem.
Lambert played down the chances of players returning from injury being involved on Tuesday but seems less likely to start current first-choice central pairing Toto Nsiala and James Wilson or skipper Luke Chambers, who is starting at right-back at present, although some of the senior players could be among the subs.
Elkan Baggott, who was recently with the Indonesian U19s, could also be among those involved,
In midfield, Lambert seems certain to rest his three regular starters - Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop - and will probably start Emyr Huws and Brett McGavin while Liam Gibbs, one of those handed his debut in the competition last season, could well come into his thinking.
Up front, Lambert won’t want to risk first-choice central striker Oli Hawkins and poured cold water on Kayden Jackson’s potential involvement - “We play too many games, we have to play 50-odd games in a 35-week season, I won’t do it because I put them at risk” - so Ben Folami could get his chance down the middle with Tyreece Simpson probably among the subs, perhaps along with Zak Brown.
Lambert has said Keanan Bennetts, who signed on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday, won’t be involved: “I think he needs a week or so with everybody here to find his feet.”
Alan Judge said he’d be up for playing having returned as a sub at the weekend after missing a couple of games with a hamstring injury, but Lambert may again want to save the Irish international for Saturday’s trip to Blackpool.
Armando Dobra seems likely to start on one flank, while Jack Lankester could well make his first start since January 2019 on the other.
Gillingham boss Steve Evans says he will also field a young team, similarly having little time for the tournament.
"We will make a lot of changes and maybe two or three youth players that did okay when we played behind closed doors against Peterborough. They may get an appearance on Tuesday,” he told Kent Online.
"The focus is Oxford, we need to be ready for that. They are a top, top class side. Two or three of the kids will be travelling on the team coach and they will be selected if we feel it is right.
"I will make lots of changes. I can't say it enough, I have no interest in the competition, none whatsoever. Last time we made eight or nine changes, it could be 10 or 11.
“[Central defender] Declan [Drysdale] will probably need another game. [Christian] Maghoma was our best centre-half for two weeks but went out with a little virus. It gives room for those lads to say that if I play really well at Ipswich I have a chance [against Oxford].”
Midfielders Kyle Dempsey, Matty Willock and Scott Robertson are all on their way back from injury but won’t face the Blues.
Historically, Town have the upper hand on the Gills, winning 10 games between the sides (seven in the league), drawing 11 (11) and losing just two (two).
The teams met in what was then known as the Leasing.com Trophy at Portman Road in October last year when the Blues comfortably defeated the Gills 4-0.
Huws and Jordan Roberts gave Town a 2-0 half-time lead and the Blues completed the scoring via an own goal and Will Keane in the second period.
In the league last season, the teams drew 0-0 at Portman Road on Boxing Day, the Blues having won 1-0 at the Priestfield Stadium via a Kane Vincent-Young header in September.
Town have received £20,000 for entering the competition and will net a further £10,000 if they defeat Gillingham in 90 minutes or £5,000 if the game is drawn at 90 minutes.
If that is the case, the match goes straight to penalties with the winner of the shoot-out gaining a bonus point.
Town’s final group game in the competition is at Crawley Town on Tuesday 10th November.
Tuesday’s referee is Charles Breakspear from Surrey, who has shown 15 yellow cards and two red in five games so far this season.
Breakspear’s last Town match was the Blues’ 4-2 home victory over Burton in February in which he booked Nolan and Luke Garbutt.
His previous Blues match also ended in a 4-1 victory to Town, over Accrington Stanley a month earlier in which he booked Chambers and one of the visitors.
Before that he was the fourth official on the end of Cardiff defender Sol Bamba’s outburst which led to his red card when the Bluebirds visited Portman Road in December 2016.
Breakspear refereed was the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Stevenage at Portman Road in August 2016 in which he booked Tommy Smith and two visiting players.
He was also in charge of the 1-0 defeat at QPR in February of the same year in which he yellow-carded Kevin Bru and two home players.
Before that, he officiated in the 0-0 home draw with Wigan in January 2015 in which he booked Tommy Smith and three Latics.
Prior to that he took control of the 1-0 home victory over Bolton in February 2014, the winning goal a 55th-minute David McGoldrick penalty awarded after the striker had been hauled back by Trotters’ keeper Andy Lonergan, who had dropped a high ball.
Breakspear also refereed Town’s 3-0 pre-season friendly victory at Colchester in July 2013 in which he also awarded the Blues a spotkick, which Daryl Murphy scored after he was fouled by U’s keeper Sam Walker.
Squad from: Cornell, Holy, Donacien, Cotter, Smith, Ndaba, Woolfenden, Chambers, Nsiala, Wilson, Baggott, Huws, McGavin, Gibbs, Viral, Crane, Judge, Nolan, Dozzell, Lankester, Edwards, Sears, Folami, Simpson, Z Brown.
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