'We are so, so close to being a right top side' – Lambert on Town's defeat at Stoke
PUBLISHED: 18:01 08 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:44 08 December 2018
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert proclaimed ‘we are so, so close to being a top side’ following this afternoon’s spirited 2-0 defeat at promotion hopefuls Stoke City.
Tom Ince (45+) and Joe Allen (60) finished off slick moves in either half, but rock-bottom Town gave as good as they got and finished the match having registered more shots, more corners and an equal amount of possession.
With the gap to Championship safety having widened to eight points for the rock-bottom Blues, Lambert enthused: “I thought we were the better team, I really do. Honestly, I just said to them in there, I’m really proud of them, the way we came here and dominated the game against a team that I think won’t or shouldn’t be far away from going up.
“It was two moments that hurt us. I’ve got a really young side, but every one of the lads were brilliant. The way we came here and played with the ball was excellent.
“Honestly, I couldn’t ask for any more with the way we came here and played. Jack (Lankester) is 18, Trevoh (Chalobah) is 19, Flynn (Downes) is 19, Andre (Dozzell) is 18. This is not normal this situation.
“We certainly don’t look like a team that is bottom of the table. The result is what it is, but performance-wise I thought we were excellent; really, really good.”
Bury St Edmunds-born midfielder Lankester again impressed on what was only his second senior start. The academy graduate forced keeper Jack Butland to turn a shot onto the post and produced a string of dangerous dead ball deliveries with his left foot.
“Jack got beat with the one-two for the second goal, but he’s only 18 and he’ll learn,” said Lambert. “He is going to be a top, top player without a shadow of a doubt. He’s one of the best young ones I’ve seen in a long while. He’s going to be a really good one.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground and doesn’t get distracted I think he’s going to be one hell of a player.”
On his decision to drop out-of-from keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, Lambert said: “That was a really tough decision, but I think Bart, mentally and physically, needed a break from it. He’s hardly had a break since the World Cup and I think it was important to look after him.
“He’ll come back stronger than ever. We had a chat yesterday and he was really professional. There was no problem. Yeah, he’s probably disappointed, but I just thought it was the right decision.
“Deano (Gerken) came in and played very, very well and didn’t really have any saves to make.”
More than 1,000 travelling Town fans were in fine voice right until the final whistle, with Lambert saying: “You can see the supporters are behind it. They can see how well we are playing. They are always the barometer of how well you are playing. They are right behind it.
“Honestly, we are so, so close to being a right top side. I know we need a little bit of help, I get that, but we’re not far from being a right top side. We need a little bit of help in January and if that comes in we are going to be a right good side.”
Asked if the gap to safety growing was not a concern, he replied: “I love your optimism! I know the league and if you go on a little run then you can catapult. While there is that light and hope we will keep going because that’s our job. We certainly don’t look like a team at the bottom. We keep going, go to the next one and try and win that.”
Cole Skuse missed the game after suffering a knee injury in training this week.
“He’s going to be out for a couple of months I think,” said Lambert. “I put Trevoh (Chalobah) in there and I thought he was excellent, but that’s one area of the pitch where I think we need a little bit of help.”
On Kayden Jackson and Grant Ward both not being in the match day squad, the Blues boss explained: “Kayden didn’t feel too good this morning when he woke up and Wardy has been ill most of the week.”