Future is bright – Mick McCarthy has one eye on the future at the start of 2016/17

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy believes the future is bright for the club ahead of today’s Championship opener against Barnsley at Portman Road.

The Blues boss relied heavily on loanees when he first took over in November 2012, guiding the team away from the relegation zone, while there was a focus on signing tried and trusted players – many from his former clubs – as his low-budget teams beat the odds to finish ninth, sixth and, last season, seventh.

However, there is finally a sense of a long-term plan emerging as the club prepares for its 15th successive season in the second-tier.

Owner Marcus Evans has loosened the purse strings a little, with £1.3m spent on transfer fees this summer.

Several ageing fringe players have departed and been replaced by Adam Webster, Paul Digby, Grant Ward and Conor Grant. All four of them are aged 21 and only Grant is being borrowed.

Indeed, nine of Town’s 20 ‘first team squad’ outfield players are aged 23 or younger – Jonas Knudsen, Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell, Josh Emmnauel, Myles Kenlock the others.

Behind them there is a number of exciting academy prospects too, with the Playford Road production line very much in motion again.

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“That is part of my role,” said McCarthy. “It’s easy to have a team full of senior and older players, but I think, for the club, if you look at Adam Webster, Grant Ward, inset left, Bish and Dozz, and Adam McDonnell, and Diggers, and Josh (Emmanuel), and Myles (Kenlock), James Blanchfield, even below that Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes and Ben Morris...

“There is a core of good young players. We have to try and get them through because we are not going to go out and spend 10 million on somebody.”

Town shook many supporters out of a state of increasing apathy with their play-off finish of 2014/15, but some flat home displays in the second half of last season means they start this campaign with around 1,000 less season ticket holders.

“I understand that,” said McCarthy. “It takes a lot to earn the money and to hand it over to a football club is another thing altogether.

“It is up to us to win them back. Of course it is. It’s our performances that will determine that. It did go a bit flat last season, but each season is different – so let’s hope this can be another good season for us at Portman Road.

“We want 20 thousand plus in here, we want to entertain them, we want to score goals and we want to bring them back in. We’ve tried to adapt and change a little bit, be a bit more considered with the ball and I think we have.”

– See today’s EADT for a full match preview, results of our recent big online survey, plus a 24-page ‘Kick-Off’ supplement which includes comment, player profiles, fixtures poster and an in-depth interview with Ipswich Tow’s head of academy recruitment Steve McGavin.

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