Report Card: Grading Hurst’s lower-league signings following steep Ipswich Town learning curve
PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20 15 May 2019
In the second of our Report Card series, we look at the lower-league signings made by Paul Hurst and how they fared in the Championship.
It's been a desperate season for Ipswich Town, resulting in the club slipping into the third tier for the first time since 1957.
As part of our Report Card series, we'll review the season for every player who made a start for the club during the course of the campaign.
We've already covered the senior players who were at the club prior to the arrival of Paul Hurst, so now it's the turn of the Town boss's summer signings.
Then we'll look at Paul Lambert's January additions and the young players to have taken to the field this season.
REPORT CARD PART ONE: Grading the men McCarthy left behind at Portman Road
In many ways, his saga rather sums up a catastrophic season. Signed on loan, long work permit wait, £750k switch finally rubber-stamped, immediately loaned back to Accrington Stanley.
Earned his move playing as a left-back, was signed as a right-back but ended up making his debut at centre-back due to a shortage of players for that position. Then does okay at right-back. Paul Lambert arrives and decides he's very much a centre-back.
It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
Had difficult moments. Shouldn't be forgotten he did pretty well against the likes of Albert Adomah and Tom Lawrence early in the campaign too.
Remains to be seen if there's a role for him going forwards.
Starts: 10 Sub: 1 Mins: 813 Goals: 0
Got the 'new era' off to a flying start with fifth minute header against Blackburn. Direct runs, flicks and off the ball work ethic had fans off their seats. He looked a snip at £700k.
The Welshman, never given a chance in his favoured left-sided role, did endure a dip in form following Paul Lambert's arrival though. Then came a nagging groin injury.
Former Peterborough winger ended the season strongly and should be a key asset in League One, a division he recently starred in.
Starts: 24 Sub: 9 Mins: 2,401 Goals: 6
A £1.6m price tag and being handed Martyn Waghorn's No.9 shirt brought a level of expectation that was perhaps always going to be too big for a player who had jumped straight from League Two to the Championship.
Toiling as a lone striker has not allowed his prime asset - pace - to be fully utilised. Starts since Lambert arrived have been sporadic meaning he's never really been able to find hit feet.
Netted an excellent glancing header against Brentford and a superb consolation strike against Millwall, but he has also been guilty of profligacy.
Could come good in League One. Needs a strike partner.
Starts: 16 Sub: 22 Mins: 1,699 Goals: 4
Looked good in pre-season with his jack of all trades striker qualities. Showed he can hold it up, run in behind and win his fair share of headers.
Started the opening five league games, including a left wing outing at Sheffield Wednesday. Victim of a tactical half-time reshuffle against Brentford. Sustained ankle ligament damage in training at the end of September.
Returned to the team around Christmas, curling home a fine goal against Sheffield United and leading the line superbly in the 3-2 home defeat to Millwall on New Year's Day. Did not start again in 2019.
Initially pushed down the pecking order by January additions, he has been sidelined by a back injury since February.
Starts: 9 Sub: 8 Mins: 786 Goals: 1
Took time to adapt to the speed of the Championship following the step up from Shrewsbury. Too many games simply passed him by. A 'phantom dead leg' then sidelined him for three weeks immediately after Lambert's arrival.
Got better and better upon his return to fitness, playing a key role during the draw-laden February/March period.
Fine sweeping finishes against Birmingham and Derby. Expert headed leveller against West Brom. Real shame he missed the last seven games with an Achilles problem.
Starts: 25 Sub: 3 Mins: 2,170 Goals: 3
Signed as a 'project' left-winger by Paul Hurst. First start didn't come until Paul Lambert's arrival... as a striker. Temporarily did really well in that makeshift role against Preston and Reading, providing some much-needed presence, but form soon faded.
Loaned to Lincoln in January. Made just five substitute appearances for the League Two champions.
Starts: 6 Sub: 6 Mins: 552 Goals: 0
Life in the Championship was initially a steep learning curve. Soon found out that rash challenges and lapses in concentration would be punished more often than not. Red card at Sheffield Wednesday was harsh in the extreme, but he kept giving referees a decision to make.
Out in the cold for a long time. Came on and switched off for Reading's late winner at Portman Road in early March.
Injuries to James Collins and Matthew Pennington opened the door. Started seven of the last 10 games, confidence returned and errors reduced. Ended campaign with an imperious display against Leeds.
Returning to a division he has excelled in previously.
Starts: 19 Sub: 5 Mins: 1,775 Goals: 1
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