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Paul Cook promises to field strong Ipswich Town side for visit of West Ham United's Under-21s in EFL Trophy match tonight




Ipswich Town fans attending or paying to watch the iFollow streams of the club's Papa John's (EFL) Trophy matches since the club's relegation to the third tier have got used to watching predominantly academy players being blooded.

But tonight's visit to Portman Road of West Ham United Under-21s (7.45pm) is set to be a different with manager Paul Cook desperate to kick-start a winning habit, as well as get important minutes into first-team squad members.

Saturday's embarrassing 5-2 home defeat to newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers made it six opening Sky Bet League matches without a win this season, and seven in all competitions, following the Carabao (League) Cup exit at home to Newport County.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook is set to name a strong line-up for the club's Papa John's (EFL) Trophy group opener with West Ham United Under-21s tonight Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook is set to name a strong line-up for the club's Papa John's (EFL) Trophy group opener with West Ham United Under-21s tonight Picture: Barry Goodwin

But although it is expected there will be plenty of changes to tonight's starting line-up from the weekend, Cook has promised it will be a senior side.

And he told reporters following Saturday's game that decision had not been influenced by the painful defeat he had just watched.

"We haven't won this season now and it's a big thing for every club," he said.

Aston Villa loan player Louie Barry, pictured in action in Ipswich Town's Carabao Cup defeat to Newport County, looks set to be involved in a strong line-up for the visit of West Ham United U21s to Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin
Aston Villa loan player Louie Barry, pictured in action in Ipswich Town's Carabao Cup defeat to Newport County, looks set to be involved in a strong line-up for the visit of West Ham United U21s to Portman Road Picture: Barry Goodwin

"We need to get a win to get up-and-running for our supporters but we have a plan, whether that plan is a good plan or a bad plan remains to be seen.

"Obviously the team has already been picked and that will be the team for Tuesday, and it is a very strong team I might add."

Asked how he viewed the EFL trophy, which sees the Blues in Southern Group A alongside Gillingham and Colchester United, as well as the young Hammers, he said: "Again, like all teams, our concentration at the minute is just to get up and running as a team and a club, so whatever competition we play in winning is a habit and is a habit that we haven't got at the minute, so Tuesday night becomes a really important game."

Cook had already revealed at Friday's press conference that transfer deadline day signing Sam Morsy is set to make his debut in their EFL Trophy opener tonight, to get minutes ahead of his league suspension ending in another two games' time.

But the likes of Aston Villa loanne Louie Barry – with the attacking midfielder having so far only made three appearances and a combined 132 minutes on the pitch across all competitions – and Kayden Jackson – the striker only introduced as an 84th minute substitute on Saturday – look set to feature.

Addressing fans' frustration at not seeing substitutes used earlier on Saturday, he said: "I can only highlight we didn't want to put our last sub on too quick because we were worried that other lads were fading and fatiguing at the time and that is something as a coach I have to take.

"If I am a fan I am looking at Louie Barry - and Kayden Jackson is another lad - that is thinking why am I not on the pitch? And I have to shoulder that as a manager."

Asked about some of the players who have impressed in the U23s and U18s so far this season maybe getting a chance to step up tonight, he said: "We will just have a look at it and see how it is doing.

"The most important thing is we have a strong of lads who need minutes."

"We will have a strong team out on Tuesday night. It will be an Ipswich Town team full of Ipswich Town players, it won't be a kids team I can assure you."

The only match completed so far in Southern Group A saw Gillingham beat Colchester United 1-0 last week.

As ever, the competition provides a route to Wembley for the showpiece final with Sunderland the current holders.

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