Ipswich Town host Plymouth Argyle today with them looking to secure their first win under Paul Cook after he has picked up one point from his first two matches in charge.
The Tractor Boys will be aiming to build on the point they managed to pick up against automatic promotion-chasing Lincoln City on Tuesday night. That saw them bounce back from a 3-1 loss at Gillingham in Cook’s first away league game. The Tractor Boys did manage to beat Accrington Stanley 2-1, but that came with their new manager watching on and not in official charge.
Cook needs to get his side to start picking up some consistent wins if they are going to have a chance of making it into the play-off places before the end of the campaign. That is the target that has been set to the new Tractor Boys boss, and he does have a squad at his disposal that should be good enough to go on a run between now and the end of the campaign.
Here, we take a look at some of the decisions that Cook will be faced with ahead of the game against Plymouth…
Whether to keep Jack Lankester in the side and give a run of games
One of the major decisions that Cook made ahead of the Tractor Boys’ draw against Lincoln City in midweek was to hand Jack Lankester his first start for the club since the loss against Portsmouth at Portman Road back in December. In total, the 21-year-old has managed to start just seven League One games this term (Sofascore) having been in and out of the side under Paul Lambert.
Cook chose to throw the attacker into the side against Lincoln with him looking to get more creativity from his side in the final third. Lankester was solid enough in possession and maintained a passing accuracy of 75% during his 61 minutes on the field against Lincoln (Sofascore). However, he was never able to really create any golden chances.
There was a feeling from Cook that Lankester could offer something different to the attacking third, but it will now be interesting to see whether he sticks with the 21-year-old or opts to start someone with more experience player in his place. His selection decision here could go a long way to showing how important the attacker could be under his reign.
How to get the best out of Flynn Downes
It is fair to say things are looking better at Ipswich for Flynn Downes following the change of manager. The midfielder was brought back into the side by Cook for the draw against Lincoln City, and with the former Wigan Athletic manager wanting his midfield options to be comfortable in possession and break up the play he is an ideal option to have in the side.
Downes has endured a difficult season this term and he has only managed to make seven league starts for the Tractor Boys (Sofascore). That comes after he was very good last term making 29 appearances in League One and being linked with moves to the likes of Crystal Palace.
The midfielder’s transfer request earlier on in the campaign is something that he has not really recovered from with him clearly having his heart set on a move elsewhere. It is now up to Cook to try and bring him fully back on board and remind him that he needs to perform for Ipswich to put himself back in the shop window again. If he can do that he will have a real talent on his hands.
Whether to bring Alan Judge back into the starting line-up
One of the main things that Cook has reiterated since taking over Ipswich has been their need to find more creativity in the final third and to create more chances for the likes of Oliver Norwood up front. Judge sat out the game at Gillingham and was brought off the bench for Teddy Bishop in the second half of the 1-1 draw against Lincoln City.
The experienced attacker has the quality to unlock defences if he is at his best, Cook will be aware that he can produce more than the three goals and two assists that he has managed to register so far this campaign in his 26 league appearances (Sofascore).
Cook will be looking to find the right option to play in that number ten role off Norwood, and Judge might well get the chance to show that he can be that player against Plymouth. Dropping Bishop might be a little harsh, but if he feels he can get the best out of the 32-year-old then it could help the Tractor Boys find more creativity.