Town v AFC Wimbledon – Preview
Town welcome AFC Wimbledon to Portman Road tonight for our first League One match under the lights and with Town looking to maintain their unbeaten start of the season.
Town boss Paul Lambert has hinted there will be changes ahead of tonights game with the games coming thick and fast. New signings Kane Vincent-Young and Anthony Georgiou will be in the matchday squad.
“There’ll be one or two because of the number of games we have,” Lambert said.
“Where I don’t want to get caught is when you play 10 or 15 games and somebody’s got to come in out of the cold and you’re asking them [to come straight in], it’s unfair on them. There’ll be one or two changes but I trust them to go and perform.
“If we play 15, 16, 17 games with the same team and two or three get injured and we ask two or three to come in, it’s really difficult for them to get up to speed.
“I trust them to go and perform, so that’s important for us because the number of games we have here is vast.”
Town have had a difficult start of the season in terms of fixtures, and now with an easier run of fixtures ahead Lambert isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I think every game is tough. If people think the games are easy, no game’s easy. There’s never been a game I’ve been involved in that’s easy, so we need to treat everybody with respect.
“It’s going to be a tough game. We have to be where we are at the minute and keep on that front foot, the way we play.
“I’m happy with a lot of aspects of the game, there are one or two things where we can do a lot better, but we’ve got a young team as well, who, as I keep saying, are learning on the job and they’re getting better and better.
“There’s a decent little mix. The thing that does give me concern is the lack of numbers in the squad.”
He added: “We had that the first three games, everybody looks at certain blocks. Every game’s hard. Only look to the next game.
“We came [to Peterborough] and it was like a home game. I thought we did some really good things, some things we can do better and if we keep playing the way we are, we won’t be far away.”
Wimbledon have started the season with two defeats and a draw, but Lambert expects a tough game: “It’s a hard game. They’re coming to our stadium, we’ll have a big crowd again and we’re playing well in a lot of aspects of the game,” Lambert continued.
“I’m happy with the team three games into the season, there are some really good things there. Young Idris [El Mizouni] came on [at Peterborough] and did some really good things, [Luke] Woolfenden again is getting better.
“There are a lot of good things there. If they can handle the pressure that’s on us and the target that’s on our back. If we don’t lose, you’re going to be in it.”
In goal Tomas Holy will continue his 100% league record with Town, with Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden continuing in the central defence. New signing Kane Vincent-Young could make his debut at right back, if passed fit after his toe injury, replacing Janoi Donacien, with Myles Kenlock at left back.
Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes will continue their impression start to the season with Gwion Edwards almost certainly dropping to the bench. The Welshman has started two games in the space of five days after a lengthy period on the sidelines.
In terms of replacements for Edwards, there is a host of players who could fill the role. Andre Dozzell, Alan Judge, Idris El Mizouni or an unlikely start for new loan signing Anthony Georgiou could start in the wide role.
Danny Rowe has started all three league games too and could well be rested but with Edwards looking certain to be rested the Blues are rather limited in the wide areas, with Lancaster, Sears and Garbutt all out injured.
James Norwood will be in attack after netting his first goal for Town in the weekend draw with Peterborough. He could be partnered again with Kayden Jackson who had a lively second period on Saturday, or play Alan Judge just behind lone striker Norwood.
Wimbledon will be without former Blue Anthony Wordsworth and Will Nightingale, the duo are back in light training after injury, but the game with Town will come too soon for both players.
“If this would have been the first Thursday before the season it would have been great, but we’ve had a couple out,” said Wally. “Now they are back in training, so I am picking from virtually a fully fit squad from next week onwards.”
“Will and Anthony are both out, it was a passive session for them today with no contact. We will be pushing to get them right for the end of the week.”
Dylan Connolly and Shane McLoughlin are both vying for game-time against their former club. Downes expects Ipswich Town to be contenders in League One this season after their relegation from the Championship last season.
“They will certainly be powerful in this division,” said Wally. “They have a great footballing tradition and it’s a wonderful stadium when it gets going. We will certainly have to be on our mettle to get something out of the game. We are going to have to be solid and strong.”
“I don’t know if it’s a point to prove, but going back to your old club never happened to me as a player, I only had two clubs. When you go back you like to meet old friends and give a good account of yourself and they will both be preparing to play, but I don’t know if they will be yet!”
Tuesday’s referee is Robert Jones from Merseyside, who has shown 12 yellow cards and no red in his three games so far this season. Jones’s most recent Town match was the 3-0 defeat at Millwall in October in which he booked only Matthew Pennington.
Town and AFC Wimbledon have never met anywhere in a competitive or friendly fixture since the Dons’ reformation in 2002.