Evans Expects to Be Fit For Millwall
Friday, 30th Jul 2021 15:26
Midfielder Lee Evans says he expects to be involved in tomorrow’s final pre-season friendly against Millwall at Portman Road (KO 3pm).
Evans missed the games against Crystal Palace and Colchester due to a groin strain but says he should be fine for the Lions’ visit.
“We had a really good session earlier today and, after picking up a slight niggle, I should be involved tomorrow which is great," he told the club site.
“In the pre-season games we have shown glimpses of what we want to do and I am sure we'll get better and better as the campaign goes on.
“We had a taste of playing in front of fans against Palace, and the game against Dartford as well. The difference when we have them in is huge and I can't wait to experience it at Portman Road.”
Boss Paul Cook looks set to field a side which is very close to the XI which will line-up against Morecambe on the opening day of the League One season in a week’s time.
Speaking after last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Palace, coach Ian Craney outlined how the Lions’ visit was being viewed: “Next weekend you’ve got to treat it as if it’s the first game, leading into the first game against Morecambe.”
Summer signing Vaclav Hladky will be in goal with Kane Vincent-Young and Matt Penney set to be the full-backs.
At the centre of the defence, new signing George Edmundson seems certain to make his first appearance in a Town shirt probably alongside Luke Woolfenden.
Assuming he’s fit, Evans is likely to partner Rekeem Harper in central midfield with Wes Burns wide on the right.
Scott Fraser has played on the left in the friendlies up to now and could continue in that role, while this week’s second signing Conor Chaplin is another alternative.
Chaplin and Fraser are both options to play in the role behind the main striker with manager Cook reiterating at Thursday’s Fans’ Forum that 4-2-3-1 is his preferred system, although admitting that he may have to play two strikers on occasion.
First-team coach Franny Jeffers said on Tuesday that Joe Pigott can also play in the role behind the main striker.
The summer signing from AFC Wimbledon is also an option to start as the number nine along with Macauley Bonne and James Norwood. It’s likely that a number of the starting XI will get a full 90 minutes under their belt.
Millwall’s pre-season has been impacted by Covid protocols but Jed Wallace, Shaun Hutchinson and Maikel Kieftenbeld are all back in training and likely to face the Blues as they look to get minutes under their belts.
Former Blues keeper Bartosz Bialkowski has also missed some games during pre-season but is expected to face Town for the first time since his July 2019 move to the Lions.
“Ideally you want all of your players back for the whole of pre-season but as we know, at the moment, it’s not quite as easy as that,” Lions manager Gary Rowett told LondonNewsOnline.
“I don’t expect it to be perfect [at Ipswich] because some of those players will almost be playing their first minutes for a while.
“It might be after two days’ training we decide it is not the right thing to do to risk those players in that game. I’ll know that Friday afternoon.
“The plan at the moment is hopefully they will all play some part, however small that is.
“Some of them can maintain that fitness but lose the edge that team training gives you. But a couple of the lads who have had it, it’s been 10 days where they can’t hardly do anything.”
Regarding the Covid situation, he added: “We’ve had players who have come back and felt fine and we’ve had players come back who have felt absolutely dreadful.
“You’ve gone from three weeks of gaining a massive advantage physically [in pre-season] to almost back to less than square one.
“It’s impossible to plan for. We’ve had it for 18 months now, so it’s not something new. We got to this pre-season and people hoped the worst was gone, it’s a timely reminder that it’s still there and we’ve got to be mindful of it.
“A lot of teams are going through it. If it was just us and we were hit badly you’d feel a little hard done by.
“We played Coventry last season and about seven or eight of our players had had it. They came back and trained for three or four days, you thought they were alright but then you watched the game back [a 6-1 loss] and realised we were absolutely miles away.
“There will certainly be no excuses. But I think there will be a lot of teams who take a little bit of time to get going at the start of the season.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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