|Ipswich Town 1 v 2 West Ham United U21|
Papa John's Trophy
Tuesday, 14th September 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Cook to Field Strong Side Against West Ham U21s
Monday, 13th Sep 2021 13:53
Town boss Paul Cook says he will be fielding a strong team as the Blues face West Ham’s U21s in their opening Papa John’s Trophy Southern Group A game at Portman Road on Tuesday evening still looking for their first win of the season (KO 7.45pm).
The Blues have endured a tough start to the campaign with Saturday’s 5-2 home defeat to Bolton - the first time they’d conceded five at Portman Road since losing to Southampton by the same scoreline in August 2011 - marking the lowest point so far.
Cook says he was already going to pick a strong side for the visit by the Hammers’ youngsters as he looks to get the Blues’ season up and running.
Asked after Saturday’s game whether the Bolton result would have an impact on his selection for the Papa John’s Trophy tie, he said: “Not really. We haven’t won this season now, it’s a big thing for every club, isn’t it? We need to get a win to get up and running for our supporters.
“But we have a plan, whether that plan’s a good plan or a bad plan remains to be seen. Obviously the team’s already been picked and that will be the team for Tuesday. And it’s a very strong team, I might add.”
He says the game takes on additional significance given the Blues’ lack of a victory up to now: “Like all teams, our concentration at the minute is just to get up and running as a team and a club, so whatever competition we play in winning’s a habit and it’s a habit we haven’t got at the minute, so Tuesday night becomes a really important game.”
Some fans have queried why he left it until the 84th minute to use his final sub, Kayden Jackson, against the Trotters but Cook says he was concerned about players’ fitness. Tuesday’s game will be another opportunity for members of the squad to get minutes under their belts.
“We didn’t want to put our last sub on because we were worried that other lads were fading and fatiguing at the time, and that’s something as a coach I have to take,” he said.
“If I’m a fan, I’m looking at Kayden Jackson and other lads, Louie Barry, thinking ‘Why aren’t they on the pitch?’. I have to shoulder that as a manager.”
Asked whether one or two of the U23s, who have made an impressive start to the season, might be involved, perhaps Cameron Humphreys, who made his senior debut in the Carabao Cup, or Tawanda Chirewa, who has had a very strong first few weeks, might be involved, Cook said: “We’ll just have a look at it, we’ll see how it’s doing. The most important thing is we’ve got a strong squad and lads need minutes.”
But he confirmed he won’t be starting the sort of very young side sent out by his predecessor Paul Lambert in the competition: “We’ll have a strong team out on Tuesday night. It will be an Ipswich Town team full of Ipswich Town players, it won’t be a kids team in any shape or form.”
Speaking on Friday, Cook said he saw no reason why the Blues couldn't go all the way in the Trophy.
“It's a competition I can’t see why we can’t do well in”, he said. “Why can't we try and go to Wembley? What a great day out that would be. I know Portsmouth fans and Sunderland fans have travelled in great numbers.
“We've got to start winning, the biggest ingredient we're lacking at the minute is that winning mentality that only winning brings, and it's something we've got to start doing quickly.”
Cook may look to stick with Christian Walton in goal after the on-loan Brighton man endured a tough Blues debut at the weekend.
He may also want to continue with his centre-halves from Saturday, George Edmundson and Cameron Burgess, as he looks to develop what seems certain to be his preferred partnership.
Cook may have planned to swap full-backs Kane Vincent-Young and Hayden Coulson for Janoi Donacien and Matt Penney. However, the former Colchester man was withdrawn after 21 minutes on Saturday and so the Blues boss may start the former Colchester man with Donacien on the bench having played the majority of the weekend game.
In midfield, Cook confirmed on Friday that he will be giving Samy Morsy - currently suspended for League One matches following his red card in his final Middlesbrough game - his debut and the Egyptian international could well wear the captain’s armband.
Morsy could be partnered by Tom Carroll, which would be the former QPR man’s first start for the club, while Sone Aluko may be given a chance to get further minutes under his belt on the left after an impressive full league debut at the weekend.
Conor Chaplin is also short on first-team minutes after returning from injury on Saturday, while Louie Barry will be hoping for a start having not been involved since a very brief sub appearance in the Cheltenham match. Joe Pigott could come in as the lone out-and-out striker.
Last season West Ham’s U21s came through their group stage after winning all their matches, 3-1 at Southend and 1-0 at Colchester and Portsmouth with U21s sides playing all their games away from home. They lost 3-0 at Peterborough at the second-round stage.
The Hammers’ U23s have made a decent start to their season having won two, drawn one and lost one to sit third in Premier League 2 and development squad lead coach Dmitri Halajko told his club's official site that his squad are going into the tie in a positive frame of mind.
“I think we’re going into Tuesday’s game in confident and good form,” he said.
“We’ve got seven points now from four games in Premier League 2 Division 1, which is a great return. Just under two points a game is a really good return, and that’s what we’re churning out at the moment.
“We go into Tuesday’s game with confidence, but also knowing we’re playing one of the better teams in League One. It probably doesn’t get any tougher than that for an academy side, coming up against a team like Ipswich in the Papa John’s Trophy.
“It’s probably going to be one of the toughest games of our whole season, but we couldn’t be in much better form going into it – so it’s set up really nicely.”
The rules of the competition oblige League One and Two clubs to field four qualifying outfield players in their starting XI.
A qualifying outfield player is someone who started the club's previous match, starts the following first-team game, someone in the top 10 players at the club in terms starting appearances in league and domestic cup competitions in the season up to this point, a player with 40 or more first-team appearances over their career or a player on loan from a Premier League or category one EFL side. If clubs transgress that rule they face a £5,000 fine.
Given Cook’s intention of fielding a strong team, the Blues should have little trouble in meeting the requirements.
Town have received £20,000 for entering the competition and would net a further £10,000 if they defeat the Hammers’ youngsters in 90 minutes or £5,000 if the game is drawn at that point.
If that is the case, the match goes straight to penalties with the winner of the shoot-out gaining a bonus point.
Last season, the Blues went out at the first round stage having finished bottom of their group after losing 2-1 at home to Arsenal’s U21s, beating Gillingham 2-0 at home and losing 2-0 at Crawley. In the latter two matches Town were fined for fielding understrength sides largely drawn from the U18s squad.
Tuesday’s referee is Charles Breakspear from Surrey, who has shown 21 yellow cards and one red card in seven games so far this season.
Breakspear’s last Town match was the 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland at Portman Road in January in which he red-carded Jackson in only the 10th minute for a reckless challenge on Black Cats defender Bailey Wright. Andre Dozzell, Stephen Ward and one of the visitors were booked.
Coincidentally, Breakspear was also in charge of the the 2-0 Papa John’s Trophy victory over Gillingham at Portman Road in October last year in which he yellow-carded Armando Dobra, Liam Gibbs and three Gills.
Prior to that he was in the middle for the Blues’ 4-1 home victory over Burton in February last year in which he booked Jon Nolan and Luke Garbutt.
His previous Town match had also ended in a 4-1 victory to Town, over Accrington Stanley a month earlier in which he booked Luke Chambers and one of the visitors.
Before that he was the fourth official on the end of Cardiff defender Sol Bamba’s outburst which led to his red card when the Bluebirds visited Portman Road in December 2016.
Breakspear refereed the 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Stevenage at Portman Road in August 2016 in which he booked Tommy Smith and two Boro players.
He was also in charge of the 1-0 defeat at QPR in February of the same year in which he yellow-carded Kevin Bru and two home players.
Before that, he officiated in the 0-0 home draw with Wigan in January 2015 in which he booked Smith and three Latics.
He also took control of the 1-0 home victory over Bolton in February 2014, the winning goal a 55th-minute David McGoldrick penalty awarded after the striker had been hauled back by Trotters’ keeper Andy Lonergan, who had dropped a high ball.
Breakspear also refereed Town’s 3-0 pre-season friendly victory at Colchester in July 2013 in which he also awarded the Blues a spot-kick, which Daryl Murphy scored after he had been fouled by U’s keeper Sam Walker.
Squad from: Walton, Hladky, Holy, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Penney, Coulson, Edmundson, Burgess, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Morsy, Evans, Harper, Carroll, El Mizouni, Humphreys, Burns, Chirewa, Chaplin, Aluko, Pigott, Bonne, Barry, Jackson, Norwood.
Photo: Matchday Images
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