|Ipswich Town 1 v 0 Plymouth Argyle|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 13th March 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Cook: I Believe We Can Get in There, So Let’s Go and Try and Do It
Friday, 12th Mar 2021 11:23
Boss Paul Cook believes League One will remain open right to the end of the season and says the Blues, who face Plymouth at Portman Road tomorrow, are capable of getting themselves in the shake-up come May.
Town go into the match against the Pilgrims one place and one point behind Portsmouth in the final play-off spot with a game in hand on Pompey - who they travel to face next Saturday - with 14 fixtures still left to play.
“I was speaking to [Lincoln boss] Michael Appleton after the game on Tuesday night,” Cook said. “Michael was saying how competitive it is, how good runs for teams can see them [climb the table].
“Look at Sunderland today and Lee Johnson [six wins and a draw in their last seven and up to fourth]. Great credit to Lee, they’re on a fantastic run, they probably dropped to eighth, ninth, 10th and their fans felt they weren’t going up.
“The reality is that no one knows, no one knows. We just all debate and exaggerate stuff because of league positions.
“There are 14 games to go and so many points to play for. We’re one of those teams that have a realistic chance of being in the shake-up. We believe we can get in there, I believe we can get in there, so let’s go and try and do it.”
Cook, who will be looking for his first win with Town, is close to Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe, who took the Home Park club up from League Two having finished in third place last season. They currently sit 15th in League One.
“They’ve got an outstanding young manager, they’ve got a really good staff around them, Ryan Lowe’s done great in football,” he said.
“He’s had success at Bury, he’s come down to Plymouth, had instance success and now Ryan, with [assistant manager] Steven Schumacher’s help and a couple of staff that he’s taken with him, they’re building the club at Plymouth and it’s great to see.
“Plymouth will be better for it. In 12 months’ time I think Plymouth will be knocking on the doors of the play-offs and to go up.
“This year they’ve had some outstanding results, like everyone else they’ve had their dips and that’s part of Ryan’s development and learning as a manager. We’re in for a really tough game Saturday but we’ve very much looking forward to it.”
Cook sees parallels between Lowe’s job at Plymouth and his own: “In the management game today you’ve got to be careful what you wish for as a manager. It’s something that I’ve learnt over the last 12 months.
“Managers clamour to climb ladders as quickly as we can. But the top of the ladders are fraught with danger, they really are.
“Ryan’s at a strong, stable football club which has loads of potential and development to go forward, probably exactly how I see the club I’m at.
“I think for managers, and Ryan’s an intelligent guy, he’ll know exactly what he’s doing. The last thing he needs is me telling him what to do, that’s for sure, I would say.”
Lowe said after his side’s 2-0 home defeat to Wigan on Tuesday a frustrated Lowe said his team was “not doing everything they possibly can” in order to “to keep the ball out of the net” and held a lengthy post-match meeting with his players in the dressing room.
“I’ve ready some of Ryan’s comments post-Wigan where probably because they’ve lost the game and conceded a couple of goals, he had the immediate [reaction] that we do an hour [after a game],” Cook said. “Knowing Ryan as I do, he’ll stay on the page that he’s on, he’ll revert to type.
“He’s a very, very modern-day coach. He’s got a love of football and a love of seeing the game played a certain way and I’m sure we’ll see that at Portman Road on Saturday.”
While games coming thick and fast can take their toll on players’ fitness, Cook’s voice is also taking a hammering at present as he issues instructions from the sidelines.
“You just keep going don’t you?” he said. “Hopefully I can get a recovery soon. The reality is that you’re trying to give everybody your energy and at the minute it’s not just the first team that needs your energy.
“Managers will say not to waste your time on things that you can’t affect, but I’m not that way inclined. I like to share ourselves with every aspect of the club and if we can just touch base with people for 10 minutes now and again, I think it gives everybody a little lift, but that’s only my opinion.”
Asked whether he has a voice maintenance regime, the Blues boss revealed his secret: “Lolly ices, I love those Buttons ones at the minute, the ones with the chocolate buttons in. My missus thinks I’m on a diet, so let’s be careful alright!
“The funny thing is, my throat’s never sore, that’s the difficulty of it, it’s just the way my voice goes.
“I do have to be careful, of course I have, I know that. But I don’t suffer with sore throats or anything like that.”
After it was suggested first-team coach Gary Roberts might take on some of the vocal responsibilities, Cook joked: “I think living with me for a week’s been enough for Gary Roberts. He’s about to resign and go back to Liverpool!”
Cook has stated that he doesn’t like to make too many changes to his team but may rest one or two given the frequency of fixtures with the Blues having a long trip to Fleetwood on Tuesday.
Tomas Holy will probably continue in goal, despite a couple of errors in recent games, with skipper Luke Chambers and Myles Kenlock again the full-backs and Toto Nsiala and James Wilson the centre-halves.
In midfield, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes seem likely to start as they did against Lincoln with Alan Judge perhaps coming back into the side in one of the wide roles for either Gwion Edwards or Jack Lankester.
Teddy Bishop could continue behind lone striker James Norwood, although Troy Parrott is another candidate having missed the Imps match.
Pilgrims boss Ryan Lowe says he knows his Town counterpart well: “Me and Paul we’ve shared great moments, European Cup finals, me and him and his lad Conor and my lad Alfie. We’ve been on away journeys with them to watch Liverpool up and down the country, all over Europe.
“When I became a manager he was one of my first ports of call. I picked his brains and went and watched Wigan train. I wanted to learn as much as I could and he’s been fantastic for me.
“He’s the older figure, older head, he’s touching 50 now I think, he might actually be 50 [Cook is 54]. I pick his brains quite a bit, I’m sure he’ll pick my brains on one or two things as well eventually in this league because he’s been out of the game a little while now. I’m happy to see him back in.
“The relationship and the friendship is very good and I’ll always class him as a friend. But the two of us are locking horns, he’s locking horns with my team to get three points and to get into the play-offs and stay there or get automatic promotion, and we’re locking horns to go and get three points off them. It’s one that I’m looking forward to and the respect is massive.”
He added: “We’re expecting a tough encounter against them but we’re also expecting a good footballing game because they like to play and so do we.”
Defender Sam Woods will be unavailable as he served the final game of a three-match ban, while club captain Gary Sawyer is not yet ready to return from an ankle injury.
Plymouth have lost their last three but prior to that run beat Lincoln 4-3 at Home Park, although that victory is their only win in six.
Top scorer Luke Jephcott has netted 18 times in all competitions but is currently without a goal in his last eight, seven starts and one sub appearance.
Town have had the edge over Argyle over the years, winning 20 games (19 in the league), losing 11 (11) and drawing 15 (15).
At Home Park in December, two goals in two minutes from Jon Nolan and Jackson saw Town come from behind to beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 following Pilgrims winger Danny Mayor’s red card.
Jephcott’s 14th-minute goal had given Argyle a 1-0 half-time lead but after one-time Town target Mayor had picked up his second yellow card on 70, Nolan and Jackson netted in the 73rd and 74th minutes to hand Paul Lambert a victory in his 100th game in charge of the Blues, who moved up to third.
The teams last met at Portman Road in March 2010 when Roy Keane’s Town fell to their first home defeat since the previous September as Plymouth, managed by Blues legend Paul Mariner, left Suffolk with a 2-0 victory.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Joe Mason seized on dreadful defensive errors in each half to claim all three points for the visitors.
Blues midfielder Judge spent two spells on loan at Home Park from Blackburn, in the second half of the 2008/09 season and for the whole of the following campaign. In total, the Irishman made 46 starts and 11 sub appearances, scoring seven goals.
Plymouth midfielder Conor Grant spent three months on loan with the Blues when an Everton player early in 2016/17 making four starts and three sub appearances. He moved to Home Park in July 2018 on a free transfer.
Pilgrims winger Mayor joined the Devon club from Bury in July 2019 having held talks at Portman Road with regard to a move to the Blues.
Saturday’s referee is Sam Purkiss from London, who in his 24 games so far this season has shown 59 yellow cards and eight red.
Purkiss has only previously taken charge of EFL Trophy games away from home involving Town.
The 2-0 loss at Crawley in which he booked Keanan Bennetts and one home player, and the 1-0 defeat at Colchester last season in which he booked James Wilson and two U’s.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Matheson, Ward, Wilson, Nsiala, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Dozzell, Downes, Judge, Huws, Harrop, Bishop, Edwards, Lankester, Thomas, Sears, Parrott, Norwood, Jackson, Drinan.
Photo: Matchday Images
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