The time is now, Lambert standing by his man and search for a spark - talking points as Town host Burton
PUBLISHED: 11:50 14 February 2020
Ipswich Town are in League One action this weekend when Burton Albion come to Portman Road. ANDY WARREN looks ahead to another vital game.
The time is now
Are were veering into 'must win' waters now?
Mathematically Ipswich can of course still achieve promotion this season if they don't win this game, but there are plenty of reasons why three points and nothing less are required.
Paul Lambert's men are now four without a win, have dropped out of the top six and there's an increasing feeling of frustration in the air.
With nine of the remaining 13 games being played at Portman Road, that's not a feeling you want to linger given the Blues promotion bid now rests so heavily on their home form.
It's been a struggle in Suffolk so far this season, with Ipswich sitting 18th with just five wins from their 13 games on home soil. Lambert's spoken of his players finding it difficult to cope with the expectation levels in the air but, quite simply, they're going to have to if they are to achieve their goal this season.
It's not a crisis but time is running out, with the sides immediately above and below holding at least one game in hand on Lambert's men.
That poor home form needs to change and there's no better day to start than tomorrow.
Stand by your man
Much of the discussion since the Blues' 0-0 draw has centred around James Norwood.
Ipswich boss Lambert spoke about the striker's 'lack of confidence' and his attempts to bring in added firepower in January. The cavalry didn't arrive meaning Norwood, who is by far Town's most threatening striker when it comes to attempts on goal, will continue to be an important figure between now and the end of the season.
The best way to get him back in form? Surely it's to play him, back your man and hope that he can come good. He clearly has inner belief in his ability and an excellent recent history to draw from.
He was in the gym before 7am on Thursday morning as Ipswich returned to training ahead of this game and there will be an inner desire to put things right after missing chances at Kingsmeadow.
It's down to Lambert to manage his player and get the best out of him. Ipswich need him.
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Back to life
The Town boss will be hoping to call on a number of returning players this weekend.
Luke Garbutt's been missing with a thigh strain which forced him off against Peterborough, while Gwion Edwards missed the games at Sunderland and Wimbledon due to suspension.
Logic says both will return this weekend, breathing life into the Ipswich wing-back positions.
Janoi Donacien and Josh Earl started in those roles on Tuesday night and, while they bring added security from a defensive sense, they don't possess anywhere near the attacking threat of Edwards and Garbutt.
That could open things up for Ipswich.
Lambert opted to go with the central midfield three of Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws and Flynn Downes on Tuesday night at Wimbledon, with that trio lacking creativity in the final third as the Blues struggled to break down their opposition.
But he surely won't opt for the same approach this weekend.
Alan Judge, Jon Nolan and Andre Dozzell remained stuck to the bench throughout the Wimbledon draw and, while all three have been inconsistent for large spells of this season, they all offer a creative edge which was sadly missing at Kingsmeadow.
Which one of the three the Town boss goes for remains to be see, but he will surely mix things up and change his midfield blend in search of something new.
With the Blues deploying a back three, are three midfielders with the tendency to play deeper really needed?
Tight and tense
Games between Ipswich and Burton are always tight.
The two sides have met five times and, aside from the first when the Blues won 2-0 in October 2016, they have all been decided by a single goal.
That was the case on the opening day of the season when Garbutt's deflected strike proved the difference, as the Blues just about got over the line on what was a tense occasion.
There's every chance the same will be true this time around.