Cambridge v Town – Preview
Tomorrow Town conclude their pre-season programme at Cambridge United, kick off at 13:00.
Town boss Paul Lambert has several positions to decide on before the season opener next Saturday at Burton and may experiment at the Abbey Stadium.
Lambert said you shouldn’t read too much into his team selections or results during pre-season.
The Blues manager has said he’s not particularly concerned by pre-season results: “I said it before, I’ve been involved in pre-seasons where we’ve won every one and we’ve lost every one and the reverse has been the case at the start of the season.
“I don’t pay too much significance to the results. For me the main thing is to get through without any injuries.
“I’ve mixed and matched to give lads game time because you never know when you might have to use them.
“If we can win on Saturday, then great, if we don’t then we’ll be ready for Burton regardless of what happens.”
When asked if he knows his team for the Burton match, he added: “I’ve a rough idea. I think anybody knows you’ve got a rough idea and then we’ll see.”
The decision of who plays in goal tomorrow might suggest who Lambert believes is his number one this season. Tomas Holy was sgined by Lambert on a free transfer from Gillingham this summer. Whereas Bartosz Bialkowski who has been three-time player-of-the-year but was expected to move on this summer.
The two goalkeepers have split gametime during the summer, each playing two lots of 45 minutes in Germany and then a full 90 minutes in England.
The decision will be a difficult one as Bialkowski, is one of the club’s top earners, needs to play if he is to get back to his best, while Holy signed for Town on the basis of being first choice.
In defence, at right back a similar battle takes place between Josh Emmanuel and Janoi Donacien, perhaps Emmanuel may get the nod with Donacien being seen as an option to fill in at centre-back at Burton. With Luke Chambers (suspended) and Toto Nsiala (injured) that leaves only youngsters Luke Woolfeden and Corrie Ndaba, with Lambert already stating the young defensive duo will not play together at Burton.
As well as potentially seeing Donacien start at centre-back tomorrow at Cambridge, experienced midfielder Cole Skuse could also temporarily fill a gap in the heart of the defence.
At left back Myles Kenlock seems certain to start there tomorrow with Luke Garbutt set to be deployed further up the pitch and Tristan Nydam out injured.
In the centre of midfield there will be several players looking to catch Lambert’s eye tomorrow. Cole Skuse, if not used in defence, will be a certainty to start at Burton, perhaps alongide Flynn Downes has had an excellent pre-season and appears likely to fill one of the two holding midfield roles.
Andre Dozzell, Emyr Huws and Idris El Mizouni have all been given regular outings this pre-season and are set to be involved again tomorrow. Jon Nolan is unlikely to be risked tomorrow but Lambert has said the former Shrewsbury man is not far away from a return to action.
In the wide areas, Luke Garbutt looks likely to start on the left, in the continued absence of Alan Judge. While on the right, both Danny Rowe and Jordan Roberts will look to impress Lambert.
James Norwood will start at Burton (presuming no injury), Lambert will need to decide if Kayden Jackson, who has been in great form this pre-seaon, will start alongside him.
The pair linked up to superbly for a 25 minute spell at the start of the second half at Colchester, with Jackson scoring two and setting up Norwood to complete his hat-trick.
Lambert has favoured the 4-3-3 system so far this pre-season as he did the seocnd half of last season. But could the form on Jackson sway Lambert to experiment tomorrow with a 4-4-2 with Jackson partnering Norwood upfront.
Town last faced Cambridge away from home in July 2016 when Andre Dozzell was on target in a 1-1 draw.