Woolfenden: Chambo and Wardy a Big Help to the Young Guys
Friday, 30th Oct 2020 12:41
Luke Woolfenden has paid tribute to experienced colleagues Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, who are likely to feature alongside him again tomorrow when Town take on Crewe at Portman Road.
With on-loan Arsenal youngster Mark McGuinness completing the new-look back four in Tuesday’s narrow 1-0 home win over Gillingham, it could be that boss Paul Lambert will announce a same-again defensive line-up when he returns to the touchline having missed that game because of a Covid-19 scare, although he was due to serve a one-game ban in any case.
Veteran pair Chambers and Ward are both 35 and apart from their impressive performances in helping Town to claim third spot in League One, they are both equally influential on the training pitch and in the background in dealing with the many young players in the first-team squad.
When Armando Dobra came off the bench against the Gills in midweek he was the fifth academy graduate to feature in the game and Woolfenden said: “The young players just keep coming through, which is fantastic for the club.
“It’s not just the guys who have had a run this season and last, there are other younger kids who look to be great prospects as well. The future of the club looks to be in good hands.
“I’m a local lad and promotion would be unbelievable for me, but everyone else would lap it up as well. It’s all I want this season. We let it slip last year and that makes us all the more determined to get the job done.”
Turning to the club’s most experienced players, Woolfenden added: “Wardy has settled in brilliantly, right from day one. He’s vastly experienced, he’s had a great career and he’s a senior international with the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s an impressive CV and he still has an appetite to achieve more with us. He’s always talking and encouraging us during games, and I think he’s been a terrific signing.
“He’s had a direct impact on me because he spoke to me a few times when I wasn’t in the team this season and made sure I knew that I wasn’t being left out because I’d been playing rubbish or anything like that.
“I was injured and he emphasised the need to get myself ready because he knew that sooner or later I would be selected and he stressed the need for me to be ready when that happened.
“He’s a bit like the skipper. We’re quite a young squad so we need the experience that Wardy and Chambo have. The young guys look up to them and can learn a lot from them, so it’s a big help.”
Woolfenden could not resist poking a bit of fun in Chambers’s direction, adding: “He’s been great for us at right-back this season. He’s better than I remember him the last time he was there.
“The previous time, I think he was more defensive and not as attacking as he has shown he can be this season.
“Under our current gaffer he is really getting forward and contributing a lot, including goals. He can provide crosses into the box or get himself to the back stick when the crosses are coming from the opposite side of the pitch.
“He’s also staking a claim to take free-kicks but I’ve not seen any of his go in at training. We’ll wait and see on that. Maybe he’s just saving them for match days.”
Chambers has been known to divide opinion between Town fans but his record tends to speak for itself.
“When the skip was playing centre-back he got a lot of stick from the fans for not being a ball-playing defender but I think that was unfair,” Woolfenden continued.
“He has a really good technique on the ball – for example, look at what a good crosser of the ball he is. It’s not easy to defend from the sort of balls he puts in to the danger area.
“I think with Wardy being in the side the skip can relax a bit more, although he still enjoys the responsibility that comes with being the captain of the side.
“He still likes to be in control and wants to look after everyone, but I think he’s a bit more chilled because Wardy is also an experienced player who revels in looking after the younger lads.”
Chambers recently entered the top 10 players for league appearances in the history of the club and his present tally is 346, leading Woolfenden to sum up: “That’s pretty impressive, especially these days when you tend not to get that level of loyalty in the game and players are moving clubs a lot more.
“He loves it here and there’s plenty left in the tank, as he has demonstrated recently. I might need a few years to reach that number but you never know!”
Photo: Matchday Images
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