How transfer deadline day unfolded for Ipswich Town – why Connor Goldson was the one that got away
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Ipswich Town took things right to the wire before tonight’s 11pm transfer deadline. Stuart Watson looks back on how the day unfolded.
Who’s Callum Connolly?
Just an hour before the window ‘slammed shut’, Town announced a season-long loan for Everton youngster Callum Connolly. The 19-year-old is very much a specialist, attack-minded right-back and not the answer to the central defensive injury crisis, but his arrival does mean that Dominic Iorfa could move inside if needs be.
Connolly has made one Premier League appearance for the Toffees, had a brief loan spell at League One side Barnsley in 2016 and spent the second half of last season in the Wigan side which was relegated from the Championship. This summer he was part of the England Under-20 squad which won the World Cup.
Deal that didn’t happen
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Connor Goldson, a powerful 24-year-old who played a key role in Brighton’s third-place Championship finish a year ago, had always been Mick McCarthy’s number one target and a season-long loan had been agreed in principle for days.
Chris Hughton, a good friend of McCarthy’s, was keen for the highly-rated centre-back to continue his recovery from heart surgery at Portman Road but wanted to sign some cover himself before giving the green light.
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Goldson arrived in Ipswich on Wednesday night, had his medical yesterday morning and the move was just about to be announced when the Seagulls pulled the plug.
That’s because the newly-promoted Premier League side had seen their own loan deal for Dutch defender Stefano Denswil collapse at the last minute. Belgian outfit Club Brugge put a stop to that after one of their players was ruled out longer than initially anticipated.
Brighton then tried to sign someone else, but that deal was dependent on something else happening too. In the end they had to keep Goldson.
Wasn’t there a Plan B?
Yes. Town looked at dozens of players and had talks with several clubs.
McCarthy went to Sweden to watch 34-year-old former West Brom player Jonas Olsson in action for Djurgarden.
Loan enquiries were made about Derby’s Jason Shackell and Nottingham Forest’s Jack Hobbs – both experienced Championship players currently out of favour.
Owner Marcus Evans was prepared to stump up a hefty proportion of the players’ sizeable wages, but McCarthy had his doubts about both the aforementioned players’ injury records though and in the end chose to wait on Goldson.
Should the situation have ever got that desperate?
You could argue that had McCarthy gone into the season with four players for that position then this mad scramble would have been avoided.
The Blues boss baulked at such a suggestion recently, snapping: “When have we ever stock-piled players just in case?” Well, the likes of Paul Digby and Piotr Malarczyk have acted as squad filler in the past and not been needed.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and no-one could have envisaged all three senior centre-backs picking up medium-term injuries within the first month of the season. Town could have coped with one or two injuries at the back, but not three.
And don’t forget, Jonas Knudsen and Jordan Spence have deputised pretty well at the heart of the Blues’ back line in the last two games, while teenager Luke Woolfenden showed he is ready with an impressive full debut in the Carabao Cup defeat at Crystal Palace recently.
What are Town’s options now?
There is no emergency loan system anymore, in which clubs used to be able to sign players on 93-day deals in between the two main windows.
The only players clubs can now sign are free agents. Ex-Blues man Alex Bruce had been seen as a potential short-term fix. The 32-year-old was released by Hull this summer and recently played a couple of games for League One side Bury on non-contract terms, but he joined Wigan late in the window.
Luke Chambers may only end up missing a couple of games with the trip to Derby being postponed anyway, while Tommy Smith and Adam Webster could return by the middle of October.
Should Town have been looking for more than just a centre-back?
Was an extra winger required to compete with Grant Ward, Bersant Celina and Danny Rowe? In an ideal world, yes, but Town have a budget to work within though and both Freddie Sears and Martyn Waghorn have shown they can do a job on the flanks if required.
Yes, the Blues are currently short in terms of central midfielders too with Emyr Huws (Achilles), Teddy Bishop (groin) and Andre Dozzell (knee) all undergoing surgery recently. However, Tom Adeyemi and Luke Hyam are back in action for the Under-23s and should be ready to compete with Cole Skuse, Ward, Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam come the trip to QPR a week tomorrow.
The Blues carried too many fringe players last season. Too many players sitting in the stands can affect morale. Having a close-knit squad, where everyone feels they have a valuable part to play, will help bring back that spirit which was so important when Town beat the odds to finish sixth a couple of years ago.