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Lambert to Assess Trio and Has No Plans For Wholesale Changes
Friday, 23rd Oct 2020 10:20

Town boss Paul Lambert will assess Stephen Ward, Oli Hawkins and Alan Judge ahead of Saturday’s trip to Lincoln and says he has no plans to make wholesale changes to his team despite the 4-1 loss at Doncaster on Tuesday.

Ward has missed the last three games with the achilles injury he suffered in the 1-1 draw away against the MK Dons earlier this month and Lambert says the veteran Irishman is closing in on a return, although he’s not yet sure whether that will be at Sincil Bank.

“We don’t know yet, we’ll have a look at him and see where he is,” he said. “He’s doing OK at the minute. He’s a big personality, which is great. He’ll know himself when he’s ready, but he’s doing OK at the minute.”

Lambert says Judge complained of a hamstring problem earlier in the week having impressed him in the opening weeks of the season.

“He finds really good space Judgey, really good,” he said. “We need to see how he is this morning, he was feeling his hamstring the other day, so we need to see how he is, we can’t take a risk with him if he feels anything.

“He’s a really clever footballer, he finds himself into spaces where he can hurt people. Maybe doesn’t have the blistering pace that Keanan [Bennetts] has got or anything like that, but he’s an intelligent footballer and I think he’s started the season really well for us.”

If Judge doesn’t make it then Bennetts, on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach might be in line for his full debut having looked lively from the bench at Doncaster.

“He’s getting there,” Lambert said. “He’s really quick. I mean really, really quick and he’s dynamic, so hopefully he’s not too far away from forcing his way in. But he is dynamic, that’s for sure.”

Another contender might be Jack Lankester, who played his first 90 minutes since January 2019 in the EFL Trophy tie against Gillingham but hasn’t featured since.

“We’ve got to be really careful with Jack because two stress fractures in your back are two massive injuries for somebody so young,” Lambert said.

“He’s had a long time out not playing football, which is a dangerous thing for him. He does well in training, he did well against Gillingham in the cup.

“Football-wise, I think he’s a real, real talent, it’s just watching him and where he’s at. But he’s doing really well at the minute, I’m happy with him.”

Striker Oli Hawkins returned as a sub at Doncaster having missed the Accrington game due to a groin problem.

If considered fit enough, the former Portsmouth man seems certain to return to the central striking role and Lambert says he’ll look at him this morning.

“He’s different [to my other options up front], he’s totally different the big lad,” he said. “He’s really good with his feet, I don’t think anybody should go away from that, even though he’s a tall lad he is good with his feet, he can play with the ball no problem.

“We’ll see how he came through [the Doncaster match], he trained yesterday so we’ll have a look at him this morning.”

Asked whether it’s nice to have the option of going long to 6ft 5in tall Hawkins if needed, Lambert responded: “I don’t want to just go back to front, I don’t want to play that way. I’d rather do it my way.

“I don’t want to see long balls, and headed balls, that’s not the way the game goes forward.

“The way the lads are playing at the minute, I like the risk factor which sometimes has people’s hearts in their mouths, but I enjoy watching it and we’ve won more games than not, and we’re a good side.”

Reflecting on how he will approach selecting his XI for Saturday, he says there won’t be widespread changes following that first league defeat of the campaign, although there might be one or two switches of personnel.

“In November we play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday and I’ve said to the guys, ‘You lose and then you think I can leave you out, but because you’ve played that well in the previous games, one game has been not so good, I might give you the benefit of the doubt. But if you mess up again you might be out’, and they know that.

“There won’t be a radical [approach]. The only changes I’ll make will be fatigue or because somebody’s off their form a little bit.

“But I won’t make massive changes because we lost a game of football because we’ve been great for the last six games or so.”

He says if players are on eggshells expecting to be dropped after one poor performance or one or two mistakes, they'll not be able to play as he wants them to.

“That’s exactly it," he said. "The guys know my thoughts on what we’ve done well and what we’ve done not so good, but I would be crazy after one crazy half of football to make wholesale changes.

“Everybody has an off-day, nobody wants to have an off-day but everybody has an off-day at certain times. It’s just you don’t want to do it again.”

Lambert says those currently out of the team realise the position but equally he says they'll be waiting for their chance if there isn't a return to form.

“Yes, they do, but they also know that you can’t perform like Tuesday night again," he said.

"Then the opportunity comes, so it’s entirely up to the individual to stay in the team and make sure what happens on Tuesday night doesn’t happen again, or else you’ll find yourself sitting alongside me.

“That’s the reality of it. I don’t want to hide anything from the guys, they know the situation, the guys are that are not playing know the situation and their chance comes then they have to be ready to perform.”

Among those waiting in the wings are centre-half Luke Woolfenden and keeper David Cornell.

“Yes, and Mark McGuinness as well," Lambert added. "Woolfenden, you’re right, Cornell. There are lots of them in there that you think they need a chance and once they’re in they have the pressure of sustaining it.

“The ones that are in at the minute can’t afford what happened on Tuesday night to happen again.”

Kane Vincent-Young is still to appear this season due to his achilles problem and Lambert says the right-back is still a little way off a return even to the U23s.

“He’s still a few weeks away Kane, he’s not trained with us at all,” he said. “He needs a bit of time on the grass, he’s started doing little things but he’s still a wee bit away from it.”

Striker Kayden Jackson tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend and Lambert says the 26-year-old, who is required to isolate for at least 10 days but probably a fortnight, is making progress.

“He’s doing alright, he’s doing OK. Obviously he can’t come in but I think he’s feeling OK,” the Town manager continued.

“When you look at the Accrington situation at the moment, it’s a crazy time, a really crazy time.”

Aaron Drinan (thigh), James Norwood (hamstring), Cole Skuse (knee), Flynn Downes (knee), Tristan Nydam (ankle) and Ben Morris (knee) all remain unavailable.

Photo: Matchday Images

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Chrisd added 10:38 - Oct 23
Feel PL is right in this case, give the majority another go and see if they can put Tuesday night's defeat firmly behind them, but I wouldn't be surprised to see 1 or 2 changes.

Razor added 10:45 - Oct 23
What is the true story with Vincent Young----you get back from a broken leg quicker.

And no Lambert I do NOT like the risk element----if you can play without it why on earth dont you!!-------perhaps you are trying to be too clever.

ArnieM added 10:50 - Oct 23
Chrisd: I agree totally with your comment. The players all need a chance to rectify their individual errors made on Tuesday night vs Donny, and so have to be given that chance again on Saturday. Make the same mistakes , and expect to be dropped after that.

Having said that however if fit I would bring Ward back into the side, as a pure tactical change for the good of the team ( unfortunate though it is on Kenlock), we need Wards experience and influence at the back.

Wallingford_Boy added 10:51 - Oct 23
Razor - odd comment, of course you get back from a broken leg quicker, as thats a straightforward injury! Bones heal. The achilles is as bad as it gets, really hard to recover from a bad one there and definitely not one to rush back from! A full rupture can end your career, a broken leg can recover in 6-8 weeks.

Europablue added 10:53 - Oct 23
Two of our better performers this season have been Ward and Hawkins, as well as Bishop. I feel like we really could have done with them against Doncaster. Of course Kane Vincent-Young is a big miss for us, but he is a long-term absentee.

Nobbysnuts added 11:35 - Oct 23
Disagree. Ward in,mcguiness in,Hawkins in. I would even play Lancaster instead of judge and take the game to Lincoln. People need to remember at the moment there is no home advantage.

blue86 added 11:40 - Oct 23
Would like to see hawkins, ward and bennetts start depending on fitness etc. And I'm pleased lambert prefers a passing game on the deck, however on occasion to be less predictable we dont always have to play out from the back. A long ball if we have big Oli on the pitch could work now and again, I mean I thought that was the whole point of hawkins coming in? To give us a different option? He has a good touch for a big man yes, with decent movement. But let's mix it up a bit now and again.

MickMillsTash added 12:06 - Oct 23
The issue on Tuesday was the Defence. This was the first half decent we played and we crumbled.
Need to cut out the mistakes or cut the players who make the most mistakes.

Carberry added 12:06 - Oct 23
Why don't we see these press conferences any more?
Presumably they are done on Zoom which shouldn't be difficult to make available after the event. They seemed to disappear before lockdown, was that because Lambert was fed up with supporters being able to see his relationship with the press? Can you shed some light, Phil?

Europablue added 12:11 - Oct 23
They are eventually posted on the ITFC youtube channel, but only in clip form. TWTV on youtube doesn't seem to be posting anymore.

BettyBlue added 12:16 - Oct 23
Nobody recovers from an Achilles injury in 3 weeks. Fact.

BettyBlue added 12:17 - Oct 23
BYW we are certain to lose on Saturday.

All the indications are there. Stick your money on Lincoln.

Europablue added 12:24 - Oct 23
BettyBlue you are probably right, but I had to downvote because I like to be irrationally optimistic prior to matches.

OldClactonBlue added 13:49 - Oct 23
As a couple of people have said already Achilles injuries can take a very, very, very long time to recover.
I'm always astounded when they say after a game so and so has an Achilles problem, hopefully they will be OK next week. It just doesn't work that way, as KVY is demonstrating.

Linkboy13 added 19:30 - Oct 23
There's no such thing as a quick return from injury at Ipswich they always seem to drag on with complications involved. This KVY injury is going on far too long in my opinion bearing in mind he's not even training with the first team . I can see this ending in a minor operation and i will be surprised if we see him this season. Questions have to be raised about the standard of treatment at Portman road bearing in mind the players that have left and seemed to have improved their standard of fitness.

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