On Saturday afternoon at Portman Road, new boss Paul Lambert will pick his first team so who is likely not to be in it, when the Blues face Preston North End?
If it was me, then of the eleven that played rather poorly against Millwall I would drop Grant Ward to the bench again. Apparently, it was Mick (the man) McCarthy, who drilled it into him to shoot on sight but that’s all right if you are in a reasonable position to do so, but quite often he is not!
How many times have we witnessed him shoot from crazy angles when there are players in space and much closer to goal. Sadly, Ward never convinces me that he is thinking clearly about what he is doing, and in a team that is seriously struggling, he is a bit of a liability in my view.
We all know about his freak hat-trick on his debut but his goals per game stats are very poor. I would drop him to the bench, and if Emyr Huws is fit again as some insiders seem to suggest, then I would throw him in from the off. It is a risk but we have seriously missed his football intelligence and technical ability in midfield.
The only other player that might immediately lose his place is Kayden Jackson, who did not impress at all against Millwall. There is no doubting his endeavour and his determination and pace but he became far too isolated up front, as our midfield struggled to make a telling pass. Andre Dozzell was also out of sorts but with a player of his undoubted talent, who can unlock a defence with one ingenious pass, I suspect that new boss Paul Lambert might be persuaded to keep him in the side. There are few players in the Town squad who possess his guile and ingenuity.
I am however confident that Bartosz Bialkowski will remain in goal and the defence will contain Everton loan player Mathew Pennington. He has been arguably the best of the rest for Town this season and captain Luke Chambers will be in the line-up too.
I doubt that Lambert will tinker too much with the starting eleven and instead observe from a distance whether that feel-good factor has boosted his sides morale. From an attacking perspective, his options are still very limited but Lambert has already said that if a player is good enough he is old enough, so I expect to see some bright young talent on the bench. I would be disappointed if Jack Lankester is not there, and there may be a place too for Jordan Roberts, who has not had the game time some of his performances for the under 23 team deserve.
It goes without saying that what Town need most of all on Saturday at Portman Road is a win, and with Preston in 20th place in the table, this is a real six-pointer and a victory in whatever form it takes, will be a huge lift to players, the management and supporters alike.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich