This evening, at the recently named Crown Oil Arena, Paul Lambert will have to make do without one or two key players. Flynn Downes is arguably their biggest loss as he has incurred five bookings, which means a one-game ban. The trouble is, on those rare occasions that Town has been without him, we have been defeated, so regardless of what manager Paul Lambert might say to the contrary, he is a very big loss indeed.
Also missing this evening is Kane Vincent-Young, and although our new flying wing-back has not been himself of late, it is largely because he has been carrying a niggly injury and now, after a minor op, he can concentrate again on getting back to full fitness.
Cole Skuse is also a big doubt this evening, and if we lose both of our most effective tough-tackling midfielders, it will be a struggle to replace them. Gwion Edwards is possibly the only player who could slot into this birth and make a real impact, but if both Downes and Skuse are missing, then expect Alan Judge to be in the team as well.
The Spotland Stadium is now known as the Crown Oil Arena for sponsorship reasons apparently and the Town travelling support will amount to one-third of the gate tonight, as once again the Tractor Boys and Girls are heading to Greater Manchester in large numbers.
Crisis what crisis I hear you ask? It is true of course that we have one of the biggest and best squads in this division but losing to combative midfielders would not be easy to replace. Andre Dozzell could come into midfield but he is a bit of a lightweight in this regard. So far this season he has underperformed but could this be the night where he finds that telling pass? I am quite sure our twin striking partnership would be encouraged if he does get into the team!
Rochdale have not had an easy time of it so far in their league campaign, and they currently lie in 14th place, with just five wins from sixteen games so far. To put things into perspective, their victories have all come against sides in and around the bottom six.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich