May 21 2013 Latest news:
By Dave Gooderham
Monday, July 16, 2012
A small section of die-hard Blues fans will tonight get their first glimpse of Luke Chambers in an Ipswich shirt.
* Formed in 1967, Helmond Sport are in the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch football
* They play in the Stadion De Braak stadium which has a 14,100 capacity
* Among their former managers is ex-Dutch international Gerald Vanenburg who played 42 times for his country
* They last played in the top division in 1984
* Last season, they finished fourth but missed out on promotion after losing to VVV-Venlo 4-3 on aggregate in the end-of-season play-offs
Paul Jewell’s men kick off their pre-season friendly programme with two matches in three days during a short tour of the Netherlands.
First up is Dutch Second Division side Helmond Sport (6pm ko GMT) with new signing Chambers expected to partner Damien Delaney in the heart of the defence.
While keen to stress that the two matches are simply training games, Town also play on Thursday night against Den Bosch, Jewell will be keeping a close eye on fitness levels at this stage of the summer.
The Blues boss was pleased with the individual training programmes given out to players during the extended summer break and now his squad will be looking to push on during the first of seven official pre-season friendlies.
Jewell has named a squad of 19 for the trip, in addition to two unnamed trialists, with Nathan Ellington and Jaime Peters notable absentees – sparking fears about the duo’s future at Portman Road.
Tommy Smith is also absent as he starts his Olympic preparations with New Zealand while trialist Cheick Kourouma has not travelled due to the hold-up in him signing a permanent deal.
Chambers will be joined by fellow new signing Elliott Hewitt, though the youngster is not expected to return to action until late September, while youngsters Jack Ainsley, Joe Whight, Josh Carson, Byron Lawrence and Ronan Murray will be hoping to convince Jewell of their collective worth in the months ahead.
As seems to always be the case, all eyes will be on Jimmy Bullard who needs a massive season after underperforming for most of last year.
Michael Chopra will be hoping to continue where he left off in Holland last year, when he kick-started his Ipswich Town career with two second half debut goals against FC Eindhoven.
With only 20 fit players making the trip and with Town looking a little stretched in certain positions, Jewell might have no choice but to play some of his side for all of the two friendlies this week.
He has deliberately kept the identity of the two trialists under wraps. Both are young, foreign outfield players and one is believed to be a defender.
* Follow our man Dave Gooderham on Twitter (@davegoods) for all the news, reports and reaction from Holland this week.