Paint job, looking for a lefty and who's out the frame - What we learned from Town's return to pre-season
PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 June 2019
Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert spoke to the media yesterday as his players took part in their first proper pre-season training session of 2019.
New signing James Norwood - the man recruited to score the goals next season - has been granted extra time off after his involvement in the League Two play-offs for Tranmere Rovers in May.
The same goes for Alan Judge, international action with the Republic of Ireland having eaten into his 2019 summer holidays.
The duo will report for duty in the middle of next week just before the Blues head off for their 11-day training camp in Germany.
Judge broke his wrist playing in Denmark on June 7. That injury comes with an estimated six-week recovery period.
How much of full training he can take part in over the coming weeks remains to be seen. Hopefully he'll be able to play some part in the latter pre-season games against Colchester, Notts County and Cambridge United.
BACK IN ACTION
After bursting on the scene midway through last season, talented youngster Jack Lankester missed the entire second half of the campaign with a stress fracture of the back. He trained alongside the first team yesterday.
Boss Paul Lambert said: "Young Jack is doing really well, he's a little bit behind it, but at least he's back out on the pitch."
Emyr Huws has had numerous failed comebacks following knee surgery in December 2017. The Welsh midfielder is back on the grass, with Lambert saying: "He's doing okay. He's worked hard over the summer. Touch wood he'll have no reaction to his knee. He's a very talented footballer, but he hasn't played for a long, long time. We have to get him back to the level I think he can do. The important thing is he can stay fit and can sustain it."
NOT YET READY
Gwion Edwards struggled on and off with a groin problem last season. He was absent yesterday, with Lambert explaining: "Gwion has still got one more week with his groin then he'll be ready."
Freddie Sears is confined to the gym for the moment as he continues to rehab on the cruciate knee ligament injury sustained back in February. He has a target of training fully by October.
IN THE FRAME
In all, 19 outfield players took part in the first team session.
Luke Woolfenden (Swindon), Janoi Donacien (Accrington Stanley), Jordan Roberts and Danny Rowe (both Lincoln) were all back and involved following loan spells.
Tristan Nydam, who had limited game-time last season following his return from a frustrating loan spell at St Johnstone, was also part of the first-team session, as were emerging youngsters Corrie Ndaba and Idris El Mizouni.
Lambert insists everyone starts with a clean slate.
OUT THE FRAME
A youth team training session took place over the road on another pitch.
The fact that the likes of Barry Cotter and Aaron Drinan - both recently called up by the Republic of Ireland U21 squad - were involved in that suggests they are not part of Lambert's plans.
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Right-back Dylan Crowe, who has represented England at U18 level, was also part of that session. The 18-year-old is yet to sign a professional deal and was strongly linked to Huddersfield earlier this summer.
Grant Ward, released at the end of his contract, is still at the club rehabbing from a knee injury. Lambert played down suggestions that the winger could be handed a new deal further down the line.
Lambert was quick to correct when it was put to him that, following Ellis Harrison's sale to Portsmouth, he had just two fit strikers to select from - Norwood and Kayden Jackson.
'No, I've got Jordan (Roberts) as well," the Blues boss interjected.
Roberts, who made just five substitute appearances during his loan spell at Lincoln in the second half of last season, appeared to win the bleep test on Monday judging by the club's social media output.
"Jordan led the line really well for us in the first few games," said Lambert. "But it was tough after that and we let him out to Lincoln.
"Listen, a lot of things can happen between now and the end of the window. We'll see what happens."
LOOKING FOR A LEFTY?
With Roberts seen as a striker, does that mean Lambert will want to add a left-sided winger/forward to the mix? Does he really want Judge - who has made it clear he prefers playing through the middle - operating out on that side long-term?
"Listen, if you want to pick the team you can take my shirt," quipped the Blues boss. "I'll decide where I want to play Judgey.
"I know what Judgey can do. He can play anywhere across the front or in midfield. I've got something in my head with it.
"Jack (Lankester) is coming back, Gwion (Edwards) is coming back, Danny (Rowe, is here)… I might look somewhere else. I know exactly where we should be strengthening."
BLUE IS THE COLOUR
Tradesmen earned a pretty penny out of Ipswich Town last season as Paul Hurst oversaw a revamp to elements of the training ground, dressing room and tunnels at great cost before Paul Lambert arrived to demand his own changes to the decor.
Portman Road as a stadium may continue to look pretty shabby, but Playford Road is beginning to scrub up nicely.
The green cabin at the heart of the complex - used for team meetings, youth education and yoga sessions - is in the process of being painted blue.
Large areas of grass that sit between buildings and pitches, purely aesthetic, have been transformed from mud patches to immaculate lawns too.