U's friendly will give us a few clues and could calm a few nerves
PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 July 2019
Ipswich Town take on Essex neighbours Colchester United at The Jobserve Community Stadium tonight (7.30pm). STUART WATSON previews the friendly action.
WHO WILL GET EXTRA GAME TIME? We're getting close to the stage of pre-season where the team for the opening day starts to take shape.
It's been mix and match sides in the three friendlies so far - a different team played in each half against Paderborn and then different teams playing the 45 minutes games against Fortuna Dusseldorf and Meppen at the Interwetten Cup - with the focus purely on getting minutes in everyone's legs.
Tonight, boss Paul Lambert may start to give a few players an hour or so before the sweeping changes occur.
Not that it will necessarily mean anything. Those that don't get an hour tonight may then get an hour at Notts County next Tuesday. It's at Cambridge United, a week tomorrow, when we'll truly get a good idea of what team the Blues boss has in mind for the League One opener at Burton on August 3.
WHO WILL STAKE THEIR CLAIM?
There look to be a few positions that are still up for grabs.
Who will get the nod in goal - new boy Tomas Holy or Bartosz Bialkowski? The latter was among the best keepers in the Championship a year ago following three superb seasons in succession. His form dipped badly during the relegation campaign and, after a move to Millwall collapsed, he was guilty of letting a routine shot squeeze through his hands at the near post last weekend.
It also looks a toss up between Janoi Donacien and Josh Emmanuel for the right-back slot as it stands.
Then there's the fight between homegrown centre-backs Luke Woolfenden and Corrie Ndaba to claim the place of suspended skipper Luke Chambers at the Pirelli Stadium. They might even get the chance to partner each other at some stage tonight given Toto Nsiala injured his hamstring at the weekend.
WHAT WILL GARBUTT'S ROLE BE?
Luke Garbutt didn't feature at the Interwetten Cup as he'd only joined up with his new team-mates three days earlier.
Town's latest addition - signed on a season-long loan from Everton - has spent most of his career as a specialist left-back, but played his best football as a left-winger at Oxford United last season.
Lambert has said, cryptically, he has a role in mind for the 26-year-old. We should get an idea of that tonight.
WILL WILSON PLAY?
Former Lincoln City defender James Wilson has been training with the Blues this week.
The 30-year-old had his contract terminated at Sincil Bank at the end of last season and is on the lookout for a new club.
The one-cap Wales international, formerly of Bristol City, Oldham and Sheffield United, missed the start of last season with an ankle injury and subsequently struggled to get in the team as Danny Cowley's men stormed their way to the League Two title.
The Blues do look short of an experienced, versatile defender for the hectic campaign ahead.
WHO WILL MAKE THEIR COMEBACK?
Alan Judge, Jon Nolan and Gwion Edwards have all been limited with what they can do in pre-season thus far.
Judge broke his wrist playing for the Republic of Ireland at the start of June. The protective cast is off, he has been taking part in non-contact parts of training and is now nearing the targeted six week point of his recovery.
Edwards has a groin issue that dogged him throughout the second half of last season. He's often done work with the physios instead of the first-team, but is making good progress and could feature tonight.
Nolan has still not fully recovered from the calf problem that sidelined him for the final seven games of last season. It seems like his comeback may be a little more delayed.
CAN TOWN AVOID ANY MORE INJURIES?
The news that Teddy Bishop, Toto Nsiala and Jack Lankester will all miss the start of the season due to injury comes as a real blow to the Blues.
All three were in the frame to start at Burton but will now be missing due to the injuries they suffered in Meppen on Sunday.
It was feared Bishop could have suffered cruciate knee ligament damage and be sidelined for a year but will instead be missing for three months with medial damage, while Toto Nsiala's torn hamstring and Jack Lankester's back problem mean they will not be available for several weeks.
Town could really do without the injury curse, which has hung over them over the last two years, striking any more over the coming days given the squad has been trimmed greatly.
Emyr Huws, who has not featured for the first team since December 2017, has got through two lots of 45 minutes unscathed thus far and says he's feeling good.
There have been failed comebacks before, though, and he will need to be managed carefully as he works towards a return to competitive action.
CAN A LID BE KEPT ON ANY NERVES?
Town have been given an extended ticket allocation for tonight's game at the Jobserve Community Stadium and there will be in excess of 2,000 away supporters in attendance.
Many won't have been to Germany. Yes, the standard of opposition was high, but many, understandably, will be concerned of reports that sloppy goals were conceded and chances not taken - two recurring themes during the relegation campaign.
There was a perverse feelgood factor surrounding the club on their way to the drop, but the Blues could really do with getting that winning feeling back over the coming days to ensure no sense of jitters - on or off the pitch - grows ahead of the big kick-off.