Albanian Under 21 international midfielder Armando Dobra looks set for a short-term loan move away from League One promotion hopefuls Ipswich Town in the coming weeks. The 19-year-old, who was the subject of transfer interest last season from the likes of Premier League outfit Brighton and Serie A side Atalanta, is someone that needs “constant first team football” to prepare himself for the Tractor Boys first XI “away from U23 football”, according to Town boss Paul Lambert.
Brighton were rebuffed in January with a lowball offer that was considered derisory by the club’s owner Marcus Evans. His undoubted potential saw Ipswich offer him a lengthy contract extension until the summer of 2023, with the club also having the option of extending by a further year.
Could Crawley offer Dobra regular first team football in 2020/21?
League Two Crawley Town have been suggested as potential suitors for Dobra for the remainder of this season. Crawley, who are currently in mid-table, would almost certainly make Dobra the focal point of their creative midfield. His style of play would put plenty of League Two defences on the back foot. However, the physical nature of the league would also provide important education for Dobra, who still needs to learn how to “play with pressure” and be productive “playing men’s football”, according to Town chief Lambert.
Many Ipswich fans would prefer to see Dobra involved more regularly in the Tractor Boys’ own matchday squad. He played a starring role in Ipswich’s recent 2-0 victory over Gillingham in the EFL Trophy, scoring a blistering long-range strike and drawing fouls in dangerous areas throughout the evening.
Nevertheless, with Ipswich hellbent on securing promotion back to the Championship at the second time of asking, Lambert is loath to rely too heavily on young prospects with little experience of League One football. Dobra is one of those, considering that he’s made just three senior starts and only four appearances from the bench.
Improving Ipswich likely to thwart Dobra’s progress this season
Lambert’s approach seems to be paying dividends for the Suffolk side so far this term, having secured the Manager of the Month award for September and cementing the Blues at the top of League One after the first five games, defying pre-season predictions of EFL experts such as Tom Love, who often provides free tips on English football leagues for Oddschecker and predicted that a playoff challenge would be the limit of Town’s capabilities in 2020/21.
There has been a marked change in style of play from Lambert’s men so far this season. The Scot has returned to the 4-3-3 system that he favoured during his first season in charge during the Blues’ relegation from the Championship, with one central striker and two inverted wide forwards doing damage when cutting inside. The system worked brilliantly at Bloomfield Road to despatch Neil Critchley’s struggling Blackpool side 4-1 in Lancashire. Ipswich breezed into a three-goal advantage before half time, with wide forward Gwion Edwards doing most of the damage cutting in from the left flank onto his right foot.
Town weathered an early second half onslaught from Blackpool, who went more direct to bring target man Gary Madine more into play, but another fine breakaway goal involving Gwion Edwards killed off the game as a contest to move Ipswich back to the League One summit.
The form of Edwards and the likes of Alan Judge and Freddie Sears means that Armando Dobra is further down the pecking order for one of those wide forward berths. Furthermore, the recent loan capture of former Tottenham prospect Keanan Bennetts from Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach has given Lambert even more senior options in wide attacking areas.
Bennetts, who was capped by England at U16, U17 and U19 level, opted to leave Spurs in 2018 to sign for Monchengladbach. He impressed in their second team that year and looked destined to compete for a first team squad place the following season but was thwarted by injury and hasn’t had a look in since. Bennetts made his Ipswich debut in the win at Blackpool and will be looking to compete with Gwion Edwards for that left-sided forward role in the weeks ahead.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience