‘I’ve been told that some people are good players... I’d have to disagree’ – Hurst hints at Town exits
Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst has suggested there will be several more ins and outs over the next month as he looks to really put his own stamp on the squad.
The Blues are closing in on the £700k signing of winger Gwion Edwards from Peterborough United, having already landed England U19 defender/midfielder Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea, season-long loan) and winger Jordan Roberts (Crawley Town, free) this summer.
Hurst has already sanctioned the £3.5m sale of defender Adam Webster to Bristol City and, as part of a brutally honest assessment which followed Saturday’s lacklustre 2-0 friendly defeat at Braintree Town, has suggested more will be heading for the exit door.
“Any funds that come in are clearly going to be utilised to try and strengthen the squad again,” said Hurst, whose side take on League Two side Crawley Town, at East Grinstead Town, tonight (7.45pm).
“We already said we needed a centre-back, so him (Webster) leaving means we probably need two now.
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“Jordan (Spence) played there first half (against Braintree). It’s obviously not foreign to him, he’s played it before, but I think we’d all agree that his number one position is as a full-back.
“The only other really recognised centre-half that we’ve got at the minute (alongside captain Luke Chambers) is Luke Woolfenden. He’s a very young player, the potential is there, but is he ready for Championship football? I think that’s a big, big ask.”
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Asked if he had a say in Webster’s exit and whether he had expected the 23-year-old to depart when he took the job, Hurst replied: “First part, yes I did. I wouldn’t have taken the job on if I felt that I wasn’t going to be making the decisions.
“The second part, I probably didn’t expect to have him. I wouldn’t have expected the interest coming so early, but overall I was more than happy to agree to that sale and try and use that money to try and strengthen the squad overall.”
So it was about him wanting to put his own stamp on the squad?
“Yeah, and I think it’s needed,” he replied. “I’m still very conscious, and people might say I don’t need to keep saying it, that this isn’t a criticism of anything before me. This is about, like you said, me putting my own stamp on things.
“Maybe we want to play a bit of a different way. I think that the group needs some help, it needs freshening up, and I’m sure there will be some more casualties as we move forward.
“Because, for me, people talk about standards and what they expect... We’ve been surprised by one or two things that, shall we say, are nowhere near good enough for us.
“We want to get people in that we feel can do the jobs and the roles that we would expect.”
Quizzed as to what sort of standards he was talking about – is it ability, fitness, character? – Hurst paused before replying: “I’ve been told that some people are good players, that some people are very promising... I’d have to disagree on some of that. I’m not going to name names.
“Fitness wise I said from the start that we wouldn’t be able to perform the pre-season that we would have liked to have. Certainly the pre-season that we would have gone through at my previous club.
“In fairness, in general, the lads have worked very hard. But we’ve had to cut it back slightly, because I think we would have broke them and maybe suffered injuries. It would have done more harm than it would have benefitted.
“So we’ve had to be a little bit cautious on a couple of occasions, but if you asked them I think they’d be surprised to hear that.
“It’s new and they have shown a good attitude, I have to say. But ultimately you have to deliver when it’s game day and they’ve got to do a lot better than what they’ve done today (at Braintree).
Tonight, Town take on a Crawley side that finished 14th in League Two last season under the management of Harry Kewell.
Reflecting on the few positives to take from Saturday’s defeat, Hurst picked out young midfield duo Andre Dozzell and Tristan Nydam – both second half substitutes – for praise.
On Dozzell, he said: “You can just tell he’s a good footballer and he wants the ball, which is something I sometimes question.
“As footballers, if you ask everybody they’ll be like ‘yeah, I want the ball, I want the ball’. Well, Doz actually goes and gets the ball.
“Some of the others, did they today as much as they could have done? I’d question that.
“And I have to mention Tristan Nydam. He went on and I think he was one of the few to come out with some credit. He listens, he wants to learn and that’s the type of players we want.”
The transfer window for permanent signings closes at 5pm on August 9 – five days after Town’s season-opener against Blackburn Rovers at Portman Road – with the loan window shutting on August 31.