‘IPSWICH WILL BE A TOUGH TEST FOR US’

Rowett in­sists play­ers can’t af­ford to take bot­tom club lightly

The Sentinel - - SPORT - Martin Spinks

GARY Rowett says he can now un­der­stand some of the prob­lems am­bush­ing Paul Lam­bert dur­ing his valiant at­tempt to avoid rel­e­ga­tion at Stoke City last sea­son.

Rowett ad­mits he has sam­pled at least a taste of those dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing his early days after re­plac­ing Lam­bert in the hot seat.

Lam­bert re­turns to Stoke as Ipswich man­ager to­day (3pm) and Rowett ob­serves: “When you look back at some of the chal­lenges we have had, you can un­der­stand some of Paul’s chal­lenges last sea­son.

“It’s not fair for me to go into more de­tail on that be­cause I wasn’t here, and I don’t know ex­actly what he’s had to do.

“But yeah, I think he will have known, as we did at the start of this sea­son, that there’s go­ing to be a lot of chal­lenges that peo­ple (on the out­side) can’t nec­es­sar­ily see.

“And cer­tainly you could see some of those, hav­ing been in the build­ing pre­sea­son, what he had to deal with last year.

“So it was never go­ing to be an easy job for any­body and you are al­ways go­ing to be de­fined, ef­fec­tively, on whether you keep that team in the Premier League or don’t keep that team in the Premier League.

“But cer­tainly I can un­der­stand some of the chal­lenges he would have had.”

Rowett, whose Derby were beaten by a doomed Sun­der­land to­wards the end of last sea­son, dis­misses any no­tion of an easy ride against an Ipswich side rooted to the foot of the Cham­pi­onship after one win all sea­son.

He said: “Any­one who’s seen the Cham­pi­onship knows that’s not the case and will never be the case be­cause any team is ca­pa­ble of beat­ing any other team.

“But what we know is that if we are at our best, we can make it a very dif­fi­cult af­ter­noon for Ipswich.

“But if we aren’t, and I’ve seen it from them in pre­vi­ous games like For­est last week, they can make it very dif­fi­cult for us.

“Paul’s style is quite a high en­ergy press­ing style, which I’m sure our fans and play­ers will know from last sea­son, and against that type of style, if you’re not at your best, you’re go­ing to get pinned back some­times and give the op­po­si­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We are con­fi­dent, with our re­cent form, that if we can play as well again, work as hard and be more clin­i­cal, then we can beat any team in this di­vi­sion, re­gard­less of where they are in the league.

“But after the Wi­gan and Black­burn games ear­lier this sea­son we would cer­tainly never be com­pla­cent about any team at all and we will give Ipswich the re­spect they de­serve.”

He be­lieves Lam­bert will be even more mo­ti­vated than usual and will try to trans­mit that to his strug­gling play­ers.

Rowett said: “I’m sure Paul will want to come here and win the game be­cause of his his­tory last sea­son with Stoke City, but at the same time you al­ways have to pick the right way to play.

“If he looks at our games (at home), a lot of teams have sat in and blocked the game up and we’ve had to be a bit pa­tient.

“Paul’s teams nor­mally play with a high en­ergy and will pick the right time to press, but what­ever they do, it’s up to us to im­pose our game on them and be so good that they have to ad­just to us.

“I think they’ve shown bits in the games I’ve seen which is much bet­ter than their league po­si­tion and points tally sug­gests and I’m sure they will be de­ter­mined to get some­thing out of the game.

“In our last two home games we’ve maybe played with a bit more en­ergy and the crowd have cer­tainly warmed to that, so the chal­lenge is: can we go out there and put in a high en­ergy per­for­mance in our­selves - along with the qual­ity we know we have got in the team?”

WARN­ING: Stoke City man­ager Gary Rowett is wary of the threat bot­tom club Ipswich can pose.

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