The time was right for Cornell to take on a new challenge.... now he’s got it at Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town look set to announce the signing of Welsh goalkeeper David Cornell. ANDY WARREN takes a look at the new man between the Town sticks.
Getting it done
Ipswich have wanted to sign a new goalkeeper all summer, following the end of Will Norris’s loan from Wolves, with the Blues looking like they finally got their man yesterday.
That man is Welshman David Cornell, who is set to arrive on a free transfer after leaving Northampton at the end of his contract, having played a major role in helping to get the Cobblers promoted to League One.
Town had also been talking to former Norwich City stopper Remi Matthews over the course of the last two weeks, having welcomed him in to train during their first week back for pre-season training. Several contracts were offered, all were turned down, so Ipswich moved on.
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That’s not to say Cornell was an afterthought, though. The Welshman had been watched live five or six times over the course of the six months prior to the coronavirus lockdown and he was a keeper of real interest for some time. Had they been able to get this deal done earlier, they would have done.
The 29-year-old was at Playford Road on Thursday to look around and returned yesterday morning as talks continued, before undergoing his medical in the afternoon and signing on the dotted line. It’s likely to be confirmed in the coming days.
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So why did he leave Northampton?
The former Swansea youth teamer, who goes by the name Dai (Welsh for David) was at Sixfields for four seasons, making over 100 appearances, but it was clear to all he needed a fresh start.
He was a major part of the Cobblers’ promotion-winning side last season but dropped out of the team once it became clear his future lay elsewhere, with Steve Arnold taking the gloves for the play-off campaign.
There was a sense he was capable of playing his football at a higher level than League Two, with Championship sides interested, but the pull of one of the third tier’s major players and the opportunity to push for a starting spot helped draw Cornell to Suffolk.
Northampton manager Keith Curle told the Chronicle: “Without going into the details, in my opinion, Dai needed a new challenge.
“That’s a conversation I had with him and fair play to him because a lot of things we spoke about, he agreed with.
“Potentially, Dai could go and play at a higher level and compete at a higher level but I think the timing was right for him as an individual to go and test himself in new surroundings.”
Those new surroundings are Portman Road, offering Cornell the biggest test of his career to date.
What are his strengths?
Shot stopping is the basic strength required by every decent goalkeeper, with Cornell clearly possessing that. He has good spring, positions himself well and likes to make his saves look good, too.
His decision-making is said to be good and, while he does make the odd error, is a consistent performer and a ‘good solid all-round goalkeeper’.
Away from the pitch, former team-mates will tell you Cornell is a ‘top bloke’ who works hard in training each day and looks pained each and every time the ball hits the back of his net, even in practice.
One former team-mate, who asked not to be named, flagged up Cornell’s size as a possible weakness in his game. The Welshman stands 6ft 2inch, not the 5ft 11inch some would have you believe, which can sometimes see him struggle when compared to considerably bigger goalkeepers when coming for crosses or dealing with corners.
He’s not afraid to throw his body into tough situations, though, which can help him get out of trouble, and is generally considered to be a safe pair of hands.
Like former boss Curle said, there’s a reason why clubs higher up the food chain have been watching him in recent years.
What about his distribution?
This was a big one for Paul Lambert and his coaches, who want a goalkeeper capable of playing out from the back.
Cornell is said to tick that box, given he can clip balls to full-backs or into midfield while also being good at coping with balls played back to him under pressure.
He can kick the ball as far as the opposition penalty area and was asked to do so a lot while at Northampton and, while the odd one can sail out for a throw-in, there’s a sense he may be able to show his true ability with his feet once part of a team looking to play through the thirds.
So, when will he play?
He could potentially be in action at the Blues’ training ground later today when Lambert’s players take part in an in-house friendly, following the cancellation of their planned game with West Ham Under 23s.
But the first time he will take to the field competitively will surely be on Tuesday night, when the Blues play two 75 minute games at Colchester.