Competition for Holy was always on Town’s agenda this summer - the story of how the Blues got their man
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town have signed David Cornell to push Tomas Holy for the Blues’ starting goalkeeper spot. ANDY WARREN looks at how they got their man.
Did Town need to sign a new goalkeeper?
Supporters are split on whether Ipswich Town really need a second senior stopper but Paul Lambert and his coaching staff have been clear in their thinking all summer.
Tomas Holy and Will Norris shared goalkeeping duties last season, with the chopping and changing between the two far from helpful at times, but Lambert and his staff firmly believed having two senior keepers was a necessity.
The same’s been true this summer, with a second senior keeper always on the agenda. It was just a question of timing and priorities.
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Norris was, of course, a loanee, but having a temporary goalkeeper is not a route the Blues wanted to go down again so they were always destined to bring in a new goalkeeper on a full-time basis.
Though both young back-ups, Harry Wright and Adam Przybek, are highly rated, the preferred option would be the for the pair to get senior games out on loan this season and possibly feature in the EFL Trophy, while a troublesome shoulder injury for Holy also played a part in the club’s desire to bring in a senior stopper.
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That injury dogged the Czech giant last season and was part of the reason the reason Holy and Norris regularly switched places, while he has spent much of the enforced coronavirus break in his homeland rehabbing in a bid to be fit for pre-season. It remains to be seen whether he’s ready to play in any of the upcoming friendly games or, indeed, be fit for competitive action in September. It’s thought the signs are better than first feared, there.
So the need to sign a new goalkeeper was maybe a little more pressing than we first thought.
Newcomer David Cornell is a player the Blues have known about and have been monitoring for some time, with coach Jimmy Walker watching him in action on several occasions since the turn of the year and seeing him as a player capable of making the step up.
He was initially one of several, though. Free agent goalkeeper Remi Matthews was at the top of that list and spent time training with the Blues, having been a goalkeeper Ipswich tried to sign before Norris arrived last summer.
The former Norwich youngster was a Bolton player then, at a time when the Trotters were having major financial problems. Had he been able to void his contract due to the fact players weren’t being paid on time, he may well have joined Ipswich as a free agent a year ago. As it turned out, the departure of Bartosz Bialkowski dragged on much longer than expected, meaning Ipswich had to move quickly to bring in Norris on loan prior to the start of last season. By that time, Matthews’ position at Bolton was more stable.
Back to this summer though and several deals are understood to have been put Matthews’ way, all the way up until the day before Cornell signed, but the Norfolk-native knocked them back in the hope of faring better elsewhere. He could be set for Sunderland, though salary cap issues are known to hampering the Black Cats’ recruitment, while he is hopeful of a deal in the Championship or abroad.
Others on the Ipswich list, which numbered maybe eight or nine, were Paul Farman at Stevenage (now of Carlisle) and Josh Vickers, a goalkeeper who played for Walker during his time coaching at Lincoln. But Matthews and Cornell were always the most likely, with the latter signing to bring the goalkeeping chase to an end.
Town weren’t without competition, with Championship quartet Birmingham, Derby, Blackburn and Swansea all said to have shown interest, before League One sides Sunderland and Charlton came in for him in the week prior to his move to Portman Road.
This was a switch that always appealed to the Welshman, though, as he looks to make his mark at a big club, secure a starting spot and push for international recognition.
The 29-year-old trained with his new team-mates this week and, having sat out the two matches at Colchester on Tuesday night, is likely to make his first appearance in an Ipswich shirt at Tottenham this weekend. Holy could potentially return, too, with both men given 45 minutes to impress at Spurs’ new home.
You get the feeling this is an open competition as both battle for a starting spot. Town staff and fans alike have had a good look at Holy now and, while he is far from flawless, the Czech stopper has shown himself to be a capable keeper and a popular figure. While he is surely in pole position to start on opening day, his lead is far from insurmountable and the door is firmly ajar for Cornell to force his way in and take the shirt.
So it remains to be seen whether either keeper can become the club’s undisputed No.1 or whether we’re in for another campaign of uncertainty between the sticks.
We’ll learn a lot during pre-season.
Watch this space.