Town v Tranmere – Preview
Table topping Ipswich head into tomorrow’s clash with Tranmere looking to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign.
As well as remaining unbeaten, Town will be looking for a sixth consecutive clean sheet which will break a club record after equaling the record last week at Gillingham.
With Tranmere coming to Portman Road this will see Town striker James Norwood come up against his former employers for the first time. The former Tranmere man enjoyed a successful time achieving back to back promotions with the club and has already spoke of fond memories of his time there.
Town boss Paul Lambert doesn’t believe Norwood’s performance to be any different tomorrow.
“I never really buy into that, you do the job, you’re a professional, you do the job that you’re meant to do, you’re not there to be all pals with your ex-team-mates,” the Blues boss said.
“You can do all that stuff after the game but you do the job. If you do the job, it’s not a problem.”
He added: “He’s been great for us since he came to the club. He’s been really, really productive with what he’s done. I’m delighted with him and how he’s performed.”
Looking back on recruiting Norwood, he added: “He was a major part of their team last year. I went to watch him on a Friday night for Tranmere last season and came away thinking we need to try and sign him. It only took one take.”
When asked what he thought would class as a good season for Tranmere, Lambert said: “ I don’t know, you’d have to ask [Rovers boss] Micky Mellon what his aspirations are, we can only focus on us.
“If we play the way we have and continue to keep this feeling and the way we’re playing, it’ll be a difficult game for both teams, but we’re certainly playing well enough to win again.”
Town are looking to gain momentum this season, something which Tranmere have had over the last two years, something which plays a huge part in football.
“It does, it’s a big thing,” he added. “As I said before, if you have momentum it can take you a helluva long way.
“Tranmere did really well, James was part of that, but the difference with us is that we’re playing really well, the fanbase is right behind us and however we play it will be a hard game for us, but equally so it’s going to be a hard game for them.”
Tomas Holy will be in goal for Town looking to keep his seventh clean sheet this season.
In front of the big Czech Lambert will have to choose if he is going to stick with the three central defenders of Luke Chambers, Luke Woolfenden and James Wilson or if he just picks two and revert back to 4-4-2.
Kane Vincent-Young will continue at right back after scoring the winner last week at Gillingham with Luke Garbutt likely to return on the left hand side of defence.
In midfield, presuming Lambert is going to stick with the 3-5-2, Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes are likely to be joined by one of Alan Judge or Jon Nolan. Both midfielders impressing in recent away displays with the duo both more than capable of adding an attacking intent from midfield.
If the Town boss reverts to 4-4-2, Judge is likely to take up one wide role with either Anthony Georgiou or Gwion Edwards on the opposite flank.
Up front James Norwood will start against his former club with either Kayden Jackson alongside him or Alan Judge just behind the former Tranmere man.
Rovers boss Mellon his well away of the task which faces his side tomorrow afternoon: “We know it is going to be a really difficult game,” he admitted. “We know they have really talented players but that is the challenge ahead. This is what it is all about, we want to go and test ourselves in this type of environment.
“This is what we expect from the players, we expect them to go there with no fear. I am really looking forward to seeing where we are up to, I am looking forward to the journey and the game.
“As a group, we will embrace Saturday and the exam will finish at 4.45pm when the referee blows his final whistle and we will see where we need to improve and where we don’t need to improve.
“Saturday is the next stage for this developing group and football club that is trying to get back to where it should be.
“That is all that is in my mind is to keep developing and trying to improve and honestly, Saturday is just another step forward for us to see where we are up to.”
Manager Mellon confirmed in his pre-match press conference David Perkins will miss the game with a hamstring injury but they are waiting to see how George Ray is.
Jake Caprice is closing in on a return after completing an hour for the reserves against Blackpool. Corey Blackett Taylor has a groin problem with no confirmation yet to say whether he will be available. Calum Woods and Morgan Ferrier remain out, likewise Jacob Maddox, Ishmael Miller, Evan Gumbs, Mark Ellis and Kane Wilson.
Historically, the Blues have won seven (five in the league), drawn three (three) and lost six (four) against the Birkenhead club.
Saturday’s referee is Ben Toner from Lancashire, who has shown 19 yellow cards and one red in seven games so far this season.