Ipswich Town are facing a potentially vital week in their season and they will need to get back to winning ways if they are to have any chance of securing a place in the play-offs.
Paul Cook has not got off to the best of starts to life in charge at Portman Road and they have managed to win just one game so far with the 1-0 success at home to Plymouth Argyle. The Tractor Boys could only draw 0-0 against Wigan Athletic on Saturday and that extended their winless run to three matches, a run which has seen them drop down to 11th place in the table.
The Tractor Boys are going to need to secure all three points against Bristol Rovers if they are going to be able to get back in touch with the teams above then in the table. Cook needs to find the right ways to get his side to pick up points on a much more regular basis between now and the end of the campaign.
Here then, we take a look at some of the dilemmas facing Cook for the meeting with Bristol Rovers at Portman Road…
Whether to mix things up in the attacking third
Following the goalless draw against Wigan last time out, Cook called for the Tractor Boys to find some players who will take more responsibility to get a grip of the game and make something happen in the final third. The Ipswich boss now needs to consider something of a shake-up going forwards with the likes of Freddie Sears and Gwion Edwards both having no real impact last time out.
Sears was brought back into the side and handed a chance to impress Cook, but he could have just 15 touches of the ball and he failed to make a single key pass or put in a single cross (Sofascore). While Edwards managed to lose the ball 18 times and also failed to put in a successful cross into the penalty area (Sofascore). Cook’s side are not going to score if their wide players create nothing.
Options to come into the side to change things up include the likes of Armando Dobra, Josh Harrop and even Kayden Jackson if Cook wants to alter the formation. While there is also the option of giving Luke Thomas some game time, who has been a forgotten figure in the last few weeks but the Barnsley loanee could offer something different for them in the last third.
How to cope with the latest blow to Vincent-Young
Another major dilemma for Cook will be how to cope without the loss of Kane Vincent-Young with the right-back once again suffering an injury this time to his hamstring during the goalless draw against Wigan. The defender offers more attacking threat down the right-hand side and could have provided some much-needed extra creativity down the right-hand side but was perhaps rushed back too quickly.
Cook is now going to have to consider his long-term options in that position, with Luke Chambers potentially now going to have to move back to right-back again for the next few weeks at least. Ipswich need an option in their side in that position who can carry more of an attacking threat and the ability to get forwards more often, bit without that they need to get more from their wingers.
Whether to start Jackson together with Norwood in attack
Cook has already hinted that he might be tempted to pair Jackson in attack with James Norwood now following the Tractor Boys’ lack of cutting edge so far in his tenure. Against Wigan, Sears at times was paired in attack with Norwood but would then have to drift back out to the wide positions with Alan Judge moving back into the number ten position.
That sort of complicated things for the Tractor Boys, who looked a little lost at times interchanging between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2. However, Jackson offers the option to have someone constantly upfront alongside Norwood and someone who can battle upfront with him and give opposing defenders another player to worry about. It seems like the time is right to try that approach.