Town look to start the season with three points against Wigan Athletic

Town begin their League One campaign with the visit of Wigan Athletic on Sunday in front of the Sky TV cameras at 12 noon.

The game against the recently relegated Latics will be the first league game since Coventry City won at Portman Road back on 7 March, 190 days ago come Sunday.

The Town boss believes that Wigan will still be a dangerous opponent on Sunday, despite there well documented problems.

“I know they’ve had a bit of turmoil up there with some guys moving and the manager leaving,” Lambert told iFollow Ipswich. 

“With the administration, it can’t be a nice place to work at.

“We have to play our way, we have to play our game and not worry about what happens there. They are still a good team, they still have some good players there.

“Lee Evans, who I worked with at Wolves, is a really good player. It’s still a dangerous game. We have to play as well as we have been and hopefully get a result.”

Looking ahead to the Town starting line-up, the only real question mark seems to be over the man in between the sticks.

Tomas Holy was given the nod last weekend for Town’s Carabao Cup win over Bristol Rovers. David Cornell was then selected for the midweek defeat at the hands of Arsenal U21s. Judging on pre-season displays, Holy appears to be favourite to start the league opener.

Luke Chambers will continue at right-back, with Kane Vincent-Young still struggling with an achilles injury, and Stephen Ward will start at left-back.

Toto Nsiala, who sat out Tuesday’s EFL Trophy game, is expected to be back to partner Luke Woolfenden at centre back.

The midfield trio of Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop and Jon Nolan are expected to play for the third game running. Flynn Downes has been back training, but the youngster might be forced to watch from the substitutes bench, or even the stands, come Sunday lunchtime.

Freddie Sears and Alan Judge are set to start in the wide areas with Aaron Drinan set to make his league debut up front. Oli Hawkins and James Norwood are likely to be amongst the substitutes with the pair still to get up to match speed.

It is hard not to have sympathy with our opponents. Wigan entered administration on 1 July and had a 12-point deduction hanging over their heads if they finished outside of the relegation zone.

Despite finishing the season in great form, The Latics were relegated following a final day 1-1 draw with Fulham, finishing the season in 23rd position.

Manager Paul Cook left his position at the start of August and there has been a whole host of players leaving the DW Stadium this summer. In fact, providing Middlesbrough sign Sam Morsy, that would leave Kal Naismith the only survivor since that game against Fulham.

Some good news for Wigan is that they could have a new boss in the dugout at Portman Road. The administrators are set to appoint John Sheridan from League of Ireland side Waterford following talks breaking down with Simon Grayson.

Despite a severe lack of players, Town will recognise two of the Wigan players come Sunday. Joe Garner was a Town player for just one season, and one was of the several players to leave during Paul Hurst’s tenure. The aggressive striker scored 10 goals in 32 appearances for the Blues before departing to Wigan for £1.25m.

Gary Roberts is another former Blue set to start at Portman Road on Sunday. The 36-year-old, who 45 starts and 14 sub appearances for the Blues, signed a short-term deal with the Latics.

Predicting a starting eleven for Wigan is virtually impossible. Last weekend, Leam Richardson’s side were knocked out in the EFL Cup at Fleetwood Town. Joey Barton’s side recovered from 2-0 down (both Wigan goals scored by Joe Garner) to win the game 3-2.

The Wigan side will be much the same as last week, with not much experience set to be in the backline for the Latics. Against Fleetwood, Richardson started two 19-year-old centre backs in Emeka Obi and Adam Long, an area which will surely be exploited by Town come Sunday lunchtime.

They will have Josh Clarke and Danny Fox available for Sunday. The pair signed short-term contracts on Friday and at 26 and 35 respectively, will add some much-needed experience to the Wigan backline if selected.

The last match between the sides was in February 2019 with Joe Garner scoring an injury time equaliser to deny the Blues a 1-0 victory at the DW Stadium. Will Keane put Paul Lambert’s side ahead via a penalty just past the half hour mark.

The referee for the game is Thomas Bramall who will be taking charge of the Blues for the first time.

The game, which is being broadcasted live on Sky Sports, is available for season ticket holders on iFollow. To find out how to watch the stream please click here.

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