Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has offered a stern defence of his decision to rotate the Tractor Boys’ squad, following their 1-0 win at League One rivals Lincoln City in the FA Cup first round.
Lambert elected to leave behind eight of his first team squad for the trip to Lincoln, with an eye on the Tractor Boys’ meeting with promotion rivals Blackpool at Portman Road on Saturday, and offered chances to the likes of Andre Dozzell, Emyr Huws, Will Keane, Anthony Georgiou and Brett McGavin.
The changes did not prevent Ipswich from securing a first FA Cup win in 16 matches, with a late winner from Alan Judge, who had only just returned from international duty with the Republic of Ireland, scoring his first goal of the campaign to send the Tractor Boys into the second round of the FA Cup.
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Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times following the win against Lincoln, Lambert defended his decision to change his side, saying: “I changed the whole team. As I’ve said before I don’t have a strong team. I don’t have a strong 11. I believe in everybody to perform.
“I talk with the medical team who are experts on fitness and muscle injuries and I pick a team of lads who I think can get around the pitch.
“Last year this football club had some guys playing 3,000 minutes and some guys playing 300 minutes. That’s unfair. People who don’t know the game and don’t have a clue about keeping people fit… That’s what annoys me.
“Everybody’s game time is really getting there. I trust everybody to perform. I don’t have any favourites or guys who are think are more important than others. We’re a team.”
Lambert is right to believe in all of his squad players as well as the players who start regularly for the Tractor Boys in the league, and his decision to name a changed team against Lincoln did pay off for his side who were able to secure their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
The changes offered chances for some of Ipswich’s fringe players to get more minutes under their belt, which will help to ensure that they are ready to come in if needed – and as Lambert suggested last season the Tractor Boys were perhaps guilty of not giving enough minutes to their squad players.
However, Ipswich supporters were desperate to see the club win an FA Cup tie for the first time in 16 attempts, and had Lambert’s side been knocked out he would have rightly been criticised by the club’s supporters, and with many of Ipswich’s players having has a two-week break there would have been little argument for resting them to keep them fresh.