Lambert on three ‘kicks up the backside’ which have helped Woolfenden get back on form
PUBLISHED: 10:48 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:48 30 October 2020
Paul Lambert believes defender Luke Woolfenden has benefitted from the three ‘kicks up the backside’ he’s received during the opening weeks of the new season.
The 22-year-old centre-half was a central figure in the Ipswich team last season but has had to be patient this season, partly due to a groin injury and also the form of Toto Nsiala and James Wilson, and only made his first league appearance of the season against Gillingham on Tuesday.
Lambert publicly stated Woolfenden needed to ‘get going’ during pre-season, with the Town boss believing that, as well as the consistent displays from Nsiala and Wilson and the signing of Mark McGuinness from Arsenal, has pushed the youngster to return to his best.
“The kick up the backside is what he needed and then also for Wilson and Nsiala to come in and do what they did, too,” Lambert said.
“Another kick up the backside was to bring in McGuinness, because everyone knew how well he’d done against us with Arsenal.
“Woolfy was pretty much ever-present last year but now all of a sudden he’s dropped right down the pecking order, so there’s two ways to respond to that. You either just accept it or you fight to get back in and know that, once you are back in, you need to hold it down.
“It’s worked in that way because I think he needed it.
“There’s more to come from him because he’s not the finished article by a long, long stretch. He’s got a long road in front of him and he knows he has a fight to stay in the team.
“Anyone who says different just wants to sit in the team with no pressure. You can’t have that.”
Woolfenden and McGuinness took over in the centre of defence on Tuesday night and impressed their manager with their displays, as he watched from home. But Lambert isn’t completely sold on the pair just yet.
“The four guys are totally different and if you look at Nsiala and Wilson against MK Dons, they were absolute cornerstones in there and started the season really welll,” he said.
“We needed the freshness because it’s been relentless. It was a big game for the younger guys the other night because they didn’t know how it was going to go.
“Are they good on the ball? Yes. Are they as good as the other two guys in physical situations? That remains to be seen because they’ve only played on game.
“James and Toto have played really well but also played an awful lot of football in a short space of time,” he continued.
“We freshened it up with the two younger guys in there and I thought they did really well, with the two experienced guys alongside them in Chambo and Wardy.
“So we’re really happy with how they performed. They’re really young but did well.
“We’re going to need all the guys because of how many games there are and also the situation with illness at the moment, so they all have a part to play.”