George Burley: Mick McCarthy may have to cash in on Aaron Cresswell, just as I did with Kieron Dyer

George Burley celebrates Ipswich Town's promotion in 2000

George Burley celebrates Ipswich Town's promotion in 2000 - Credit: PROFESSIONAL SPORT

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hinted this week that left-back Aaron Cresswell may be sold to a Premier League club in the summer. STUART WATSON spoke to former Blues boss George Burley about how cashing in on Kieron Dyer led to promotion the following year.

Matt Holland consoles Kieron Dyer in 1999 as Town miss out on second place on the final afternoon of

Matt Holland consoles Kieron Dyer in 1999 as Town miss out on second place on the final afternoon of the season

Sometimes you have to cash in on your best players for the greater good of the team.

So says former Blues boss George Burley in the wake of current Town manager Mick McCarthy dropping a big hint that he may sell left-back Aaron Cresswell to a Premier League club this summer.

And Burley should know.

After the Suffolk club suffered play-off heartache for the third successive season in 1998, fans’ favourite Mauricio Taricco was sold to Tottenham for around £1.75m. A fraction of those funds were used to sign two players who would go on to capture the hearts of the Blues faithful in Fabian Wilnis and Jim Magilton.

Town went on to miss out on automatic promotion on the final day of the following campaign. Once again they were defeated in the play-offs and once again there was a key summer departure.

This time homegrown star Kieron Dyer moved to Newcastle United for £6.5m. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Burley went out and used the funds raised from one sale to strengthen his team in multiple positions.

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Through the Portman Road revolving doors arrived Gary Croft (350k), Jermaine Wright (£500k) and John McGreal (£500k). Most crucially, come the following January, the club was in a position to be able to sign in-form striker Marcus Stewart (£2.5m from promotion rivals Huddersfield) for the final push.

The rest, as they say, is history. All five of the aforementioned signings – bought with the funds raised by the Taricco and Dyer sales – played key roles as the Blues finally secured promotion via a Wembley triumph over Barnsley.

“It was a case of needs must,” said Burley. “When you are in the Championship you sometimes have to sell one of your best players in order to strengthen other areas.

“We didn’t want to sell Kieron at the time, but if a Premier League club wants a player in the Championship it’s very hard to stand in the way of progress. All you can do is make sure you get the best price for them possible.”

Ipswich Town once again look to be a position where they may be forced to sell for the greater good of the team.

A host of Premier League scouts have been at Portman Road this season to track the progress of left-back Aaron Cresswell.

Manager Mick McCarthy has constantly talked him up and this week said it would be hard to stand in the 24-year-old’s way if a top-flight club come came calling.

The Blues are in a position of strength though, with the defender having recently extended his contract until 2017.

Twenty per cent of any profit made on the player may be going to former club Tranmere, but anything around £3m would enable McCarthy – a master at picking up bargains and getting the best out of them – to go out and add three or four quality players to a squad which has only just fallen short of the top six this season.

An inventive, attack-minded midfielder, plus a direct-running winger or two could well be at the top of the wanted list.

“The deal has to be right for both the player and the club,” said Burley. “If it’s not then it doesn’t happen.

“You have to consider that you have a very good young player and are always conscious of when it’s the right time for them to move on and further their career.

“Sometimes you find yourself in a position where you’re not under pressure to sell, but you know that it would benefit the squad to bring in the money and reinvest it in other more important areas.

“Mick’s experienced, he’s been here before and will know what he wants to add to his squad this summer. I’m sure he and the players will be really determined to go one step further next season.

“We missed out in the play-offs four seasons in a row, but every time we dusted ourselves down and went again. Each summer you lose one or two players and have to rebuild a little – hopefully to come back stronger.”

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