‘We are making sure they are alright mentally’ – Lambert staying in touch with players via group video calls

PUBLISHED: 08:24 10 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:24 10 April 2020

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert embraces Flynn Downes. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert embraces Flynn Downes. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says the mental well-being of his players is more important to him than their physical fitness during this coronavirus crisis lockdown period.

A hug for Andre Dozzell from Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve WallerA hug for Andre Dozzell from Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller

It’s been 28 days since Blues players were sent home from Playford Road following the announcement was made that English football had been suspended. Still, nobody knows if or when the season will be resumed.

Asked if the club had given the players a fitness programme to do from home, Lambert – speaking on BBC Suffolk this morning – said: “Not really. We are in dialogue online with the lads to make sure they are alright mentally. That’s the bigger thing for me, that their mental state is going to be okay, because they are confined to their houses and confined to their families.

“Regarding fitness they’ll do little bits but we can’t do anything with them at all really. We’ve just got to monitor them mentally really and make sure they’re okay.

“They’re doing alright. Some of my colleagues are speaking to a few more of them this morning. We’re doing in it groups. The younger kids are important as well. People forget that some of the kids are in digs as well. It’s very, very tough.

The Pools Panel have predicted how Paul Lambert, Luke Chambers and Ipswich Town would have fared had the postponed games been played as planned. Picture: PA SPORTThe Pools Panel have predicted how Paul Lambert, Luke Chambers and Ipswich Town would have fared had the postponed games been played as planned. Picture: PA SPORT

“Like everybody else, I’m just staying in the house. It’s terrible what’s happening, it really is terrible.”

MORE: No training until May 16, games behind closed doors – the latest from the EFL on when Town’s season may start again

The EFL wrote to all its member clubs yesterday saying that ‘clubs are advised not to recommence any training activity with players until May 16 at the earliest’ and that ‘whenever the decision is taken that is safe to resume, we currently estimate that the league will require approximately 56 days to complete the outstanding matches in the season (including play-offs)’.

Asked what he though the solution was to finishing the season, Lambert said: “I’m like everybody else, this is new to us all. Firstly, I have to say that there are more important things than sport, as everybody knows.

Paul Lambert gives James Norwood a hug. Photo: PagepixPaul Lambert gives James Norwood a hug. Photo: Pagepix

“Looking at the football though, the thing I get frustrated about is that they keep on putting dates on it. It’s the 30th of April, then it’s the 16th of May... I think it will be longer than that. I don’t see it. They’ve cancelled Wimbledon and The Open in July, how can you try and fit football in before those two massive events?

“I’d like to see the season finished because we’ve still got a really good chance (of promotion) with everybody back fit. It’s a chance for everybody to get going again,. But whether that’s going to take place over peoples’ lives I’m not so sure. I think they have to sort out what’s happening in the world let alone anything else.”

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He continued: “I understand the ramifications and the financial implications (if the season gets declared null and void), especially in the Premier League where they could lose so much money coming from Sky and BT. I get all that. But it affects everybody, it affects the Championship, it affects League One, League Two, the National Leagues, the leagues below... It affects everybody.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert and Toto Nsiala. Photo: PAIpswich Town manager Paul Lambert and Toto Nsiala. Photo: PA

“What I think is that if you do something for one league then you have to do it for everybody. I think it’s got to be right across the board. I don’t think there can be a disparity.”

The Blues boss added: “There will be a knock-on effect. When do you start next season? Do you get a break, do you not get a break? How many subs can you use coming back from this period? Because when you come back from pre-season usually 11 guys will start the first 45 minutes and then a different 11 guys come on for the next 45 minutes. It’s a really difficult situation for the world of football.

“Nobody has encountered this before, not one person in the world. Somebody has to make a decision somewhere. Either wait and see if we can play or it’s ‘we don’t play’. I get everybody’s point of view. I try and look at it from every angle. You never really come up with an answer because somebody somewhere is not going to be happy with the decision that’s made.

MORE: Ipswich Town confirm ‘number of off-field staff’ have been placed on furlough leave

“There’s no right or wrong answer. When the decision is made then everybody has to abide by it. There are so many hurdles to get over before we can get to a decision that most people are happy with.”

Meanwhile, the Blues boss said he had joined players in calling up some of the club’s older season ticket holders.

“I think it’s a great idea, I really do,” he said. “Some of the banter I’ve had with them has been pretty good actually! It’s not anything to do with season ticket renewal, nothing like that, it’s just to make sure they are alright.

“The club is doing everything it can to help. As I said before, it’s a one club town and times like this pull everybody together in a community. I know Portman Road has been offered to the NHS, which is great, the training ground has been offered to the NHS if they want to use it. It pulls everybody together in a really hard time.

“My message to everybody is, first and foremost, stay healthy, keep safe, stay at home. Secondly, the NHS, I’ve got to say, have been unbelievable – that’s a serious job. My thoughts are with them.

“Just keep safe everybody and hopefully we do get the season started again and we see everybody again soon.”

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