Bartosz Bialkowski looks set to return in goal tonight, as Ipswich Town go in search of another vital three points away at high flying Leeds United. I have heard it on good authority that manager Paul Hurst believes that this is the right time to re-introduce Town’s three-time player of the year back into the starting line-up at the expense of Dean Gerken this evening.
In fairness to Gerken, he has performed quite solidly over the eight games he has played but with ‘Gerks’ there always seems to be a mistake just waiting to happen and the timing of his last one went a long way to sealing Town’s fate. Excuse the pun but in the view of most fans, Bart is quite literally poles-apart when it comes to the all-around game he possesses. His handling is normally very reliable and his quick distribution has been sadly lacking of late.
Both keepers, of course, have quick reflexes and are good shot-stoppers but strangely neither keeper is renowned for saving spot kicks which is a bit bizarre. That said, I go with the majority here and think that Hurst is right to return him to the fold. He has not been our best player for the last three years for nothing! Yes, he did seem to be suffering from a World Cup hangover – or was it the security of a long-term contract at a club that he and his family feel comfortable with? It could have been a bit of both I suppose but it is reassuring to see him back in the first team picture, and given the opposition tonight he will need to be at his best!
This could be the only change from the side that was decidedly under the weather against Queens’ Park Rangers – although impressive Mathew Pennington could return to central defence at the expense of the Toto Nsiala, who was responsible for that clumsy challenge that led to the penalty and end Town’s hopes last Saturday at Portman Road, in what turned out to be a thoroughly miserable afternoon. Jon Nolan or Flynn Downes might return to the midfield too in place of Andre Dozzell if the manager thinks that three games in one week for the youngster is asking too much.
Leeds are without centre-back Pontus Jansson, who is serving a one-match ban for comments made after their draw with Brentford earlier this month but Jack Harrison, Luke Ayling and Pablo Hernandez are all likely to return for the home side.
The bad news is that Ipswich have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven visits to Elland Road. The good news is that the Whites are going through a difficult patch and manager Marcelo Bielsa has won just three of his last 11 games in charge!
If you are a gambling man you can get as much as 7/1 on an Ipswich win tonight, and I am! I nearly always allow my heart to rule my head when it comes to supporting the Blues so I will put some money on them to win this evening – even if it transcends all football logic.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich