Judge Enjoying Being Back at Number Eight
Sunday, 7th Feb 2021 11:43
Opening goalscorer Alan Judge is pleased to be back operating in his most favoured role and believes yesterday’s improved performance as the Blues beat Blackpool 2-0 at Portman Road was down to work on the Playford Road training ground.
Judge netted the opening goal, his second of the season in the 43rd minute, with Luke Woolfenden adding the second four minutes after the break. From there, Town should have gone on to win more comfortably with a number of good chances going begging.
“It’s good to see things on the training field that we’ve been working on come to the fore,” Judge said afterwards. "It was just overall a pleasing performance.”
Asked what work at the training ground he was referring to, the Dubliner added: “Me personally, I’ve been back into number eight, into my position, which I’ve been enjoying in the last few weeks. Just getting those forward runs when we retrieve the ball.
“The first goal, we’ve been working on getting the ball back in those three or four seconds after you lose it.
“Kenny [Myles Kenlock] picked it up quite quickly and we’ve just gone forward and we’ve caught them on the counter, and that’s the kind of stuff we’ve been working on.”
Had he been frustrated playing wide, as he has often done this season? “I think the manager and the coaching staff would say I’m happy just to play, but I’m getting to an age now where I want to get into where I want to play and it’s up to me to keep myself in that position.
“Again, if the manager wants me to play out on the wing, I’ll do that with no problem and I think he knows I’m that type of lad, I’ll do whatever I need to do for the team.”
Regarding his goal, a low 20-yard strike which ripped across the wet surface and past Tangerines keeper Chris Maxwell, he said: “It was great, I was surprised by the amount of time I had, but again I think it was that quick turnover, we caught them on the counter-attack.
“To be fair, we must have had about 20 runs like that today and we could maybe even have got a few more. It’s just good to see the stuff from the training ground coming on to the pitch.”
Judge believes he can score more regularly in the role he played yesterday: “Yes, that’s what I’m hoping. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday [at Peterborough].
“We know we’ve got a lot of games and the gaffer says he might be freshening it up, we’ll see what he does.
“But we’re not playing with a number 10, we’re playing with an eight, I did that at Brentford. I like that, and I’m getting older, I’m not getting any younger, so I’m enjoying that part of tracking back, tackling, I can’t always be that flying number 10 and that winger that I used to be.”
He says his goal on Saturday was of a type he believes the Blues need to score more regularly, Town having turned defence into attack very swiftly.
“We’ve got good players but I think we also need to do the other side better,” he said. “The number of goals we’ve conceded with players running off us has not been acceptable and we have been working on that in training and there has been a lot more of that the last few weeks, and hopefully there’ll be more to come.
“Hopefully we get that right, if you don’t concede, you don’t lose games, so we’ve got to get that right in our game.”
At 32, Judge was the elder statesman in yesterday’s team and certain of his team-mates have reminded him of his senior standing.
“I know, I get called ‘Grandad’ by Flynn [Downes] every day, every morning,” he laughed. “He calls me ‘Grandad’, I don’t know what he calls Wardy and Chambo!”
Town handed debuts from the start to new loaneess Troy Parrott and Luke Matheson and Judge has been impressed by the duo.
“I played with Troy with Ireland, he’s a young boy, he’s only 19 but I think you can see from his presence that he’s got that little bit of arrogance about him. He can put himself about, he’ll take care of himself,” he said.
“He had a nice few touches and I expect goals from him and with Nors [James Norwood] coming back and obviously all the others, Aaron [Drinan], Kayden [Jackson], we’ve got good options.”
Regarding baby-faced right-back Matheson’s display, he joked: “With Luke, it’s like I’m looking at my son Jackson! When I saw him the other say and then what he did today, it’s just brilliant, I was delighted for him.”
Monday’s two new signings and earlier January loan recruits Luke Thomas and Josh Harrop have added to the competition at Portman Road.
“I think we need that, to be honest with you,” Judge reflected. “We do have a lot of games and the manager did say that he is going to make changes, so we’ve got to put up with that and when you do play, you’ve got to put yourself forward and I think hopefully a few of the lads did that today.”
Regarding what the January additions have added to the squad, he said: “We haven’t been able to see much of Josh Harrop, how’s your luck that he tested positive for Covid?
“It’s just that injection of energy and that bit of difference. I was at home for four days earleir in the week with family issues in Dublin, the club have been very good with me, and I came back and it was like a new squad.
“As I said, talk’s cheap, we just need to go on to the next game and just keep going and going and see what happens.”
Did the squad need that injection after a disappointing spell? “A new player always does that. For me, Josh is coming in as a number eight, I needed to be on the top of my game or else I’m out of the team. It’s just the way it goes.”
The Irish international says there’s now real competition for places: “As I said, there are a lot of games, so players can’t continuously play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday for a ridiculous six or seven weeks. Games could get called off as well. It’s a team game and we’re all going to need each other to get up there.”
Judge says he’s ready to play his part in that busy schedule, despite his advancing years: “Always, as I said to the gaffer, I’ll make sure I always outrun the others.”
Quizzed on whether fans have been right to be critical of their team this season, he added: “Let’s be honest, we were 11th in the league today before the game, I know we’re behind. Us as players really do what to put that right.”
But Judge believes the Blues are still very much in the hunt despite currently sitting in 10th, four points off the play-off places.
“I think I heard the Peterborough chairman [Darragh MacAnthony] say that in this part of the season it’s going to be who has the biggest squad and who gets the fewest injuries,” he said.
“So we’ve just got all make sure we keep ourselves fit and then when we’re called upon, whoever plays, we give everything we can.”
And he says the more experienced players in the squad, the likes of him, skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, will have an important role to play alongside the youngsters in the squad, who fans may get more excited about.
“I understand Ipswich fans want to see their players come through, like at every club, every club wants to do it,” he said,
“But they need to be helped along as well sometimes and sometimes they need to be taken out of the firing line, even some older players need to be taken out of the firing line.
“You’ve just got to go with it, we’ve just got back each other and just go and try and keep to ourselves and just do what we can do.”
While not much of an on-pitch shouter, Judge says he plays his part when it comes to giving assistance to youngsters breaking through.
“I’m a bit quieter,” he continued. “I would more like to do my leading while talking to players individually, I’m not a ranter or a raver.
“First of all, I have to concentrate on myself as well, but if I can help others too, I’m more than happy to do that.
“I had that myself when I was younger and I’d just like to try and pass it on to other players as well.”
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s visit to London Road to face fourth-placed Peterborough, he added: “It’s a big game, whether it goes ahead we’ll see what goes on with the weather.
“Look, the fans have heard a lot of stuff, so I don’t want to harp on too much about it, we’ve just got to go into the next game and just go and see what happens.
“I know we don’t want to say ‘do this, do that’ and don’t back it up again, we’ll see what happens and go with it.”
Peterborough beat Town 1-0 in a game of few chances at Portman Road last month. Recalling that game, Judge said: “Our game plan I thought worked well against them, it wasn’t the best of games, but they’re a good team, they’ve got strikers in form, they move the ball well and I thought we restricted them well.
“I don’t think it was the best-looking game to watch but sometimes it’s needs must and hopefully whatever the manager decides on Tuesday, it might be a little bit different, we’ll see what he does.”
And he knows Town have to start beating teams above them sooner rather than later if they’re to be challengers. So far, the only team they have beaten while then in the division’s top 10 is Accrington Stanley.
“Of course, let’s not beat around the bush, we have to,” he admitted. “As I said, I don’t want to go ‘we need to do this, do that’, we’ll just see what happens come Tuesday.”
Photos: Matchday Images
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