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Gillingham 0 v 2 Ipswich Town
Papa John's Trophy
Tuesday, 5th October 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Cook: Changes But Team Will Be Very Competitive
Monday, 4th Oct 2021 15:48

Town boss Paul Cook will field a changed but still very competitive side when the Blues face Gillingham in the Papa John's Trophy at the Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening and says it’s a chance for those currently on the fringes to make a case for a place in the team which takes on Shrewsbury at Portman Road in League One on Saturday.

“We’ll make changes in the game, we’ve got opportunities to give a lot of lads games now that they really need and it will be a strong Ipswich team hoping to win the game,” Cook confirmed, speaking after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Accrington.

“I think it’s disappointing because if we had had a good result today, everyone bounces into the Gillingham game.

“Unfortunately, we’re on the back of a really disappointing result where we haven’t played well, we haven’t competed and done the bread and butter side of football, and that hurts as a manager.”

Despite being set to field an XI probably featuring none of the team which beat Doncaster 6-0 a week ago and lost at Stanley, Cook believes it will be a side well capable of defeating the Gills, who are currently 18th in League One, a point and place ahead of the Blues.

“I think when you look at the side we’ll put out on Tuesday night, you’d expect us to be very competitive in the game, I’m 100 per cent sure,” Cook said.

“But we’ve seen with the West Ham [U21s] result how difficult the games can be. Obviously you’re going to put a team together that’s never played together but you’d expect them to have enough quality, so we’ll see Tuesday night.”

Asked whether it is an opportunity for the players who come in to get themselves into his plans for Saturday, Cook said: “One hundred per cent.”

The Blues boss isn’t anticipating keeper Christian Walton, who is out with an adductor problem, or anyone else who has been out with an injury being back - “I wouldn’t have thought so” - and so Tomas Holy is likely to make his third start of the season in goal.

Kane Vincent-Young could return at right-back having lost his place to Janoi Donacien in recent weeks, while the out-of-favour Myles Kenlock is understood to be under consideration for a return in the left-back role.

The 24-year-old has been training with the U23s since pre-season, although not featuring in games, but could be involved with Hayden Coulson out with a groin problem and Matt Penney needed for Saturday.

However, even if he does play, Kenlock's Town career is unlikely to see a renaissance as he is unavailable for League One matches having been left out of the squad submitted to the EFL for the first half of the season.

Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden will probably be back at the centre of the defence, although youngster Albie Armin will be hoping for his second senior start after impressing on his debut against West Ham's U21s.

In midfield, Idris El Mizouni may be partnered by Cameron Humphreys, as he was in the previous tie against the Hammers' youngsters.

Cook may not want to risk Kyle Edwards with Bersant Celina unavailable for the Shrews’ visit as he is away with Kosovo, although the former West Brom man may need a game having been out injured in recent weeks before returning as a sub on Saturday.

Rekeem Harper may similarly not be included with a view to taking Celina's number 10 role at the weekend.

That could see Louie Barry, Sone Aluko and Conor Chaplin start as the three behind the lone striker, who will probably be Joe Pigott, if the former AFC Wimbledon man is over the illness he suffered last week. Alternatively, James Norwood could start.

Kayden Jackson, Jon Nolan and youngster Zanda Siziba, who along with Armin and Humphreys wasn't in the U23s side which won 3-0 at Swansea on Monday afternoon, could well be on the bench.

Like Town, the Gills will make changes from the team which lost 2-0 at home to Wigan on Saturday.

“I would imagine that there will be opportunities for people,” assistant manager Paul Raynor told their official website.

“There will be chances for players to stake a claim to play at Wycombe, and the guys need the opportunity to play. We will take advantage of that.”

Former Blues winger Mustapha Carayol is back in training but unlikely to be ready to return to match action after a thigh problem, while Ryan Jackson is in a similar position.

On-loan Watford man Dan Phillips remains sidelined, while Vadaine Oliver is unlikely to be risked due to the effects of a rib injury, despite having played on Saturday with Raynor admitting the striker wasn’t “bang on 100 per cent”.

Ex-Blues academy youngster Stuart O'Keefe was on the bench against the Latics after a shoulder injury but also may not be risked against his old club.

Midfielder Alex MacDonald suffered a deep cut to his leg during Saturday’s game and again could be left out of the side facing the Blues.

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 Gills 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.

Town are currently bottom of the group following their 2-1 defeat to West Ham’s U21s in their opening fixture, while Gillingham won 1-0 at Colchester in their ofirst match.

Since those games, the U’s have defeated the East Londoners' academy team 1-0, via a goal from on-loan Blues forward Armando Dobra.

Historically, Town have the upper hand on the Gills, winning 12 games between the sides (eight in the league), drawing 11 (11) and losing just three (three).

In March, Paul Cook’s first game in charge of Town ended in a 3-1 League One defeat to Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium.

Jack Tucker gave the Gills the lead in the seventh minute but skipper Luke Chambers pulled a goal back for Town on 65, however, Oliver netted in the 73rd and 80th minutes to see the home side to a deserved first home league victory over the Blues.

At Portman Road in October last year, Teddy Bishop’s goal three minutes from time saw Town to a 1-0 victory.

The Blues had had plenty of chances in the first half, before the Gills improved after the break but Bishop’s fourth goal of the campaign claimed the points for Town.

The teams also met in the Papa John’s Trophy at Portman Road earlier the same month when second-half goals from Dobra and Ben Folami saw a very young Town side to a victory.

Dobra struck home from the edge of the box on 57, then Folami turned home the second after good work from Liam Gibbs with 15 minutes left as the Blues deservedly and in the end comfortably defeated the Gills.

Blues keeper Holy joined the Blues from Gillingham in the summer of 2019 after the Czech had spent two years with the Kent club, for whom he made 107 appearances.

Striker Pigott had a spell on loan with the Kent side in the second half of the 2013/14 season, scoring once in four starts and three sub appearances.

The Gills squad includes a couple of players with Portman Road connections.

Winger Carayol joined the Gills in the summer after leaving Cypriot side Apollon Limassol. The Gambian international made five starts and three sub appearances for the Blues, scoring once, during a spell at Portman Road in the second half of 2017/18.

Gills midfielder O’Keefe, who moved to the Priestfield Stadium from Cardiff in the summer of 2019, was an academy schoolboy with Town.

Tuesday’s referee is Trevor Kettle, who has shown 33 yellow cards and two red in eight games so far this season.

The Rutland-based whistler’s most recent Town match was the 1-0 home defeat of Crewe in October last year in which he showed yellow cards to Jackson, Andre Dozzell, Gwion Edwards, Alan Judge and one Alex player.

He also refereed the 1-0 defeat to Coventry at Portman Road in March 2020 in which he again cautioned Dozzell, as well as Freddie Sears and Will Norris.

In August 2019 Kettle was in charge of the 3-0 home victory over Shrewsbury in which he red-carded Shrews midfielder Shaun Whalley in the 38th minute for a second bookable offence and showed yellow cards to three of his team-mates and Flynn Downes.

In addition, Kettle awarded the Blues a penalty after Vincent-Young had had his legs taken away from him by Josh Laurent, which was converted by Norwood.

He took control of the 2-1 win at Fulham in December 2015 in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.

Before that, he was the man in the middle for the 4-4 draw at Derby in October 2013 in which he booked five Blues and one home player.

Kettle also refereed the 1-1 draw at Barnsley in September 2012 when he again booked five Town players.

Prior to that, he officiated in the 2-1 win at Burnley in April 2011 when he showed seven yellow cards in total, four to Blues.

Squad from: Holy, Hladky, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Kenlock, Penney, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Armin, Edmundson, Burgess, Morsy, Harper, El Mizouni, Humphreys, Nolan, Fraser, Burns, Chaplin, Aluko, Edwards, Siziba, Bonne, Barry, Norwood, Jackson.

Photo: TWTD

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ihatecanaries added 15:59 - Oct 4
The only change we need to make is the manager himself, his record is terrible. I can't understand why so many of our fans were happy when he was appointed, Lambert would have done a better job than this fool.

itfchorry added 16:29 - Oct 4
Why not play two upfront ?

rgp1 added 16:32 - Oct 4
In other news Watford have a waste disposal unit that they cannot empty because its jammed full of old managers. BTW aren't they still in the Premier league?

SamWhiteUK added 16:37 - Oct 4
Our squad depth is ridiculous - even if we completely change the side, there is no excuse for not getting a result here.

Tufty added 16:48 - Oct 4
That’ll make a change

BlueBlood90 added 16:49 - Oct 4
I'm desperate to see Cook turn this around and be the manager who brings us success like most of us expected him to be but I think it's another huge error by not playing our best 11 tomorrow night.

You can't keep saying we're a work in progress and need time to gel when you're wasting perfectly good opportunities like tomorrow where you could get everybody out on the pitch playing another match together and gaining confidence with the right result.

Suffolkboy added 17:23 - Oct 4
Use them or lose them, PC ; if they can’t stay fit and full of vim then you’ve chosen the wrong characters and the sooner they’re exposed as frauds and shipped out ,the better !Certainly not many seem to be responding to you and the coaches nor actually quitting the field of play having given all !

masetheace added 17:26 - Oct 4
Fed up with the quotes like we will have a competive team - given the apparent depth of the squad . We should be competitive in every game we play given the contracts that have been handed out . Play for the shirt . Cook says he is familiar with most of the players he has bought in . Maybe he doesn't know them as well as he thought .

Cakeman added 17:30 - Oct 4
Hopefully we have learnt from the harsh lesson at Accrington that we have to vary our game at times. In other words make sure we are more physical than the opposition and we will win.
A few years ago against Arsenal at Portman Road they couldn’t beat us because we were in their faces from the first whistle.

Vanisleblue2 added 17:39 - Oct 4
Very competitive = reserves
More than enough to win = loss
Rest players for league game = next league game loss and an injury or two
Blah blah blah....zzzzzzz

ButchersBrokenNose added 17:46 - Oct 4
As bad a start to the season as he has made, I would think Mr. Cook needs to start getting wins under his belt more than he needs to rest players. Yes, this is a meaningless competition and a distraction from promotion, but we need confidence right now, and that comes from winning games. I know there's a risk of a player picking up an injury, but better to replace that player if and when it happens than break up a team that we keep hearing needs to gel. I think the manager needs to recognize how bad things are and do something about it.

blues1 added 18:03 - Oct 4
Butchersbrokennose I get ur point but we have to take into account that with Celina away on international duty we can ill afford to lose the likes of Edward's for Saturday. And as this is the one competition that cook said right from the start, is the last priority, I don't see the point of risking injuries. Winning g our hone lge games has to be the biggest priority right now. If we can do that and pick up a few points away from home too, up till Xmas then we'll be in with a shout. Losing players to injury would not help us at all.

Saxonblue74 added 18:16 - Oct 4
Wasn't that the pre match statement prior to the West Ham game? I settled down ready to tune in to ifollow only to see the starting line up with 11 changes!

ronnyd added 18:22 - Oct 4
Hope that ref is on the boil.

ringwoodblue added 19:01 - Oct 4
So that means 10 changes and another team of strangers - can’t wait!

Radlett_blue added 19:02 - Oct 4
Usual b/s from Cook. He's going to play a reserve XI again so that he can give his bloated squad game time.

tractorboybig added 19:09 - Oct 4
more verbal diarrhoea than lambert something I find near impossible

billlm added 19:13 - Oct 4
Itfchorry, stop swearing,

blueboy1981 added 19:35 - Oct 4
I think talk will always be cheap, there’s much talk on all fronts of what we should be doing - BUT we are not - is the reality.
With around a quarter of the season already gone, I think Papa John is the last of our concerns - we need points on the board in League 1.
Or otherwise, we could find our Club in a seriously situation next season, that is becoming more of a possibility by the week.
League focus now needed 100% - and whatever that takes.

brittaniaman added 19:36 - Oct 4
Cooky try playing 4-3-3 or is that too ambitious for you ???

where did I see that system played Man City and Liverpool say no more !!!

Marinersnose added 19:41 - Oct 4
Well Holy likely to start in goal indicates that we will definitely concede goals. I’ve lost interest in this competition after Cooks debacle against the Hammers kids. He played a weakened team and we got battered. It doesn’t matter who plays well tomorrow night as he won’t be picking them Saturday. This manager has his team and that’s it. Unfortunately they can’t play his tune. Piggott cannot play the loan striker role but I’m sure Cook knew that we he signed him. What a complete muddle after an exciting takeover.

blueboy1981 added 19:42 - Oct 4
…… at the moment our ‘best’ eleven are hardly classed as competitive ( most achieved markings of 3/10 against the might of Accrington ) - so a 2nd eleven could surely only improve on that ??

bluesince76 added 19:45 - Oct 4
I'm beginning to question the ambition of the owners how long more have we to listen to excuse after excuse.

KiwiTractor added 20:09 - Oct 4
I hate this competition, but it would be nice for the fans to get a win.

Surely whoever plays must know they have a chance of pushing for the top team, if they put in a big effort and a good display?

Please don't bother with Holy and Jackson. Another game for Hladky is hardly going to wear him out for the weekend. Clements over Kenlock? Chaplin has also got to be pushing for a start at the weekend - I'd play him at 10 over Harper.

dirtydingusmagee added 20:18 - Oct 4
Saxonblue, yes it was , the same old guff. We have heard it all before. Cook REALLY needs start matching his words with results, getting mighty tiring now .

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