‘If it was me, I’d have played’ – Lambert on Downes’ request not to face Bristol Rovers

PUBLISHED: 11:14 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:15 04 September 2020

Wantaway midfielder Flynn Downes has been told to 'clear his head' by Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller

Wantaway midfielder Flynn Downes has been told to 'clear his head' by Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller

Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has revealed that he had picked Flynn Downes to face Bristol Rovers in tomorrow’s season opener at Portman Road, but the wantaway midfielder told him he ‘wasn’t in the right frame of mind’ to play.

Downes handed in a transfer request earlier this week after Town rejected a second offer for him from Premier League club Crystal Palace. It’s understood that bid was shy of £2m and that the two clubs are a long way apart in terms of their valuations of the player.

“What happened was that Flynn came to me yesterday and said he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play the game,” explained Lambert.

“I understood it. I took him out the firing line because his welfare is important to me.

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“If it was me, I’d have played, beacause he was playing well in training and he was playing well in pre-season.

“I’d named him in the team but had to change it obviously.

“When he came to me yesterday, told me how he felt, I had a duty of care to him as a person. Also, I need players who want to play for the club, which is important.”

Lambert continued: “I know the transfer request has been put in. He’s 21 years of age. I don’t know who is advising him, I really don’t. But my duty to care to him is huge.

“The lad is only 21 and this is the first time this has happened to him.

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“I’ve given him a few days off to try and get his head clear and I’ll have another chat with him on Monday when he comes back in.”

He added: “Until a club puts an offer in for Flynn, or any of our players for that matter, that we sit fit... Well (owner) Marcus (Evans) doesn’t have to budge if he doesn’t really want to.”

Asked what he thought Downes was worth in the current market, Lambert said: “To be honest, I don’t know any valuation of players any more with the way the game is. But it’s a Premier League team and the money was absolutely nowhere near what I think Flynn could potentially be.

“Marcus doesn’t have to budge if he doesn’t want to. I feel a bit for Flynn because he’s stuck in the middle. I know what it’s like, I’ve been there.

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“But if somebody doesn’t come up with the figure then the owner doesn’t have to budge. The owner is a wealthy, wealthy guy and he doesn’t have to budge if he feels the offer isn’t right.”

Lambert was then asked whether, if the club did eventually cash in on Downes, he would expect that money to be reinvested in the squad.

He said: “You’d like to think so. If you sell any player you’d like to think it will come back into the club. But I understand the whole pandemic thing has crashed into everything here.

“That’s a dialogue one. This is certainly not a normal situation.”

After tomorrow’s game, there will still be seven more matches before the domestic transfer window shuts.

Asked if he will be picking Downes for those games, Lambert replied: Yes. And as I’ve said, until somebody meets the valuation or makes a realistic offer then Marcus doesn’t have to budge.”

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