Ndaba Out to Try and Give Gaffer a Problem
Wednesday, 11th Nov 2020 12:05
Centre-half Corrie Ndaba is hoping he can give manager Paul Lambert a problem by getting himself into his thoughts for the Blues’ League One line-up having made his first steps into senior football in cup competitions in the early stages of this season.
Dubliner Ndaba made his senior debut as a sub in the Carabao Cup tie at home to Bristol Rovers and subsequently started all three of Town’s Papa John’s Trophy games, including last night’s 2-0 defeat at Crawley which saw the Blues bow out of the competition.
The 20-year-old felt Town’s young side, which as was the case in the Gillingham game had an average age below 19, was unfortunate to be defeated by the Reds.
“I think we were unlucky to lose the game,” Ndaba said. “We dominated the game really, got on the ball, had good patterns of play, got a lot of crosses into the box and were unlucky not to score and concede two and lose the game.”
Ndaba lined-up a centre-half alongside Levi Andoh, who he felt impressed in his senior debut for the Blues.
“He’s did really well, he’s been working hard so it’s good for him to get his chance and show the gaffer what he can do,” he said. “He likes to get on the ball, he can play, he’s aggressive. He’s done well.”
The former Cherry Orchard youngster believes there are talented youngsters throughout the squad which played last night.
“Definitely, all the way through there are some very good young players,” he said. “The gaffer gives a lot of our young players chances in training and in games like this, so it’s just up to them to prove what they can do, and today they’ve done that.
“We have a way of playing and he likes to put that all the way through the U23s and the U18s. So we do our patterns of play in training every day and when all the young lads come up he shows us how he wants us to play.
“I like the way the gaffer plays, he wants us to play out and that suits me, I like playing, I’m comfortable on the ball. Hopefully I can keep doing well and get myself into the team.”
Ndaba admits he would like there to have been more Papa John’s Trophy games this season.
“Very disappointing because the gaffer’s given me a chance to play in all these games,” he continued. “So it’s obviously disappointing not to go through and get more games in, but we’ll see what happens.”
There is plenty of competition at centre-half at Portman Road at present but Ndaba believes he is in with a chance of breaking into the league side this season.
“Of course, I’ve just got to keep working hard every day and try and give the gaffer a problem and get in and start league games because ultimately that’s what I want to do," he said.
“I just want to work as hard as I can, do it every day in training. The gaffer says I have to give him a problem. That’s my goal - give him a problem to get me in and be in contention to start.”
Ndaba says other members of last night’s squad could also put themselves in contention, citing the progress made by Brett McGavin having gained first-team experience in the Papa John’s Trophy over the last couple of seasons.
“We have a lot of good young players so it can happen to anyone,” he said. “For instance, a player could play well today and the gaffer could say ‘I want him in’. It can easily happen.
“Brett McGavin got his chance the other day in the FA Cup against Portsmouth, he did well so it will be interesting to see what happens with him. There are a lot of chances at this club.”
Lambert said Ndaba was close to making his debut back in the 2018/19 relegation season but ultimately he didn’t get his chance until the start of this campaign.
Looking back the Irish U21 call-up reflected: “That was a tough time for me because I thought I was going to play and obviously I didn’t do as well as I should have done.
“I dropped out of the team training-wise but this season I got myself back on it, I’ve worked really hard and got myself back in and hopefully in contention.
“I probably just wasn’t as focused as I was when he first came in. Obviously I was trying my best but sometimes as a young player you can have ups and downs and I had a bit of a down time last year, but I’m happy to put that behind me and keep going and hopefully get myself in the team.
“How did I get back in contention this season? I just focused on myself really, I was working hard every day, I didn’t take much time off, I was in the gym, I was doing football work.
“Over the lockdown I had a lot of time to myself so I was frustrated that I wasn’t involved with the first team, so I just thought ‘What can I do to get back in there?’.
“I started the season with the U23s and told myself I need to be the best player, I need to get up with the first team, I need to do as well as I can to get in contention.
“Give myself a boot up the backside, I did need it so it’s obviously good to get my chance and the gaffer’s given me my chance in the other games as well, so hopefully I can keep going and get in contention for league games.”
He says he’s learnt lessons from his experiences over the last couple of years: “I don’t regret it because it’s showed me that I have to keep on it every day and not slack off because you can easily lose your place and drop down the pecking order.”
Ndaba says the squad’s senior players such as his former landlord Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward have helped him.
“Chambo’s always been good, I used to live with Chambo,” he said. “But Stephen Ward as well coming in, he’s been brilliant, especially being a fellow Irishman. He puts his arm around me.
“But even the likes of Totes [Toto Nsiala], Willo [James Wilson], JD [Janoi Donacien], they’re all good. It’s good to have players like that around the team.”
Ndaba, who also operates as a left-back, says it was a boost having Ward, a player he grew up watching playing for his country, join the club in the summer.
“Definitely, an Irish legend, you know!” he laughed. “I’ve been watching him for Ireland. When he came in I thought he was going to be just one of these old pros, moaning and stuff, but he’s been great.”
Asked what it was like having Chambers, who has had a number of academy players living in an annexe to his house over the years, as a landlord, he said: “He’s a funny guy, he’s chilled out but he kept me on it as well.
“He wanted me to do well and I appreciate everything he’s done for me. He’s helped me a lot and he’s always given me advice, so it’s good to have him around.”
Ndaba has had loan spells in non-league at Hemel Hempstead and Chelmsford, and twice was close to joining Scottish clubs for spells, Dundee United in January 2019 and Ayr United in the same month of this year.
The central defender was among the players who Lambert talked about going out on loan this summer but ultimately opted to keep him at Portman Road due to the injury situation.
“I did think I would have to go on loan to get some experience,” he admitted. “But the gaffer spoke to me and said there are chances for me to play in these sorts of games and to stay because there were players getting injured. Wardy got injured, and I got my chance tonight.
“I want to play at the best level I can [if I do go out on loan], but I also want to play at the right club for me. If a loan is a possibility, I’ll speak to the gaffer and see what he thinks.
“But first and foremost I want to play for Ipswich, I’ve been here since I was 15 and that’s my goal. Hopefully that can happen soon.”
Photos: Matchday Images/PagePix
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