'In an ideal world we'd like to keep them...' - Town chief on Skuse and Dozzell contracts
PUBLISHED: 17:28 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 06 February 2020
Ipswich Town general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill says that contract negotiations continue to go back and forth with those coming towards the end of their deals.
Cole Skuse and Andre Dozzell are the two players who leap off the page when looking at that list, with Gwion Edwards, Will Keane, Danny Rowe, Jordan Roberts, Armando Dobra, Bailey Clements and Brett McGavin also now in the final few months of their contracts.
"We were are in constant talks with players and agents about contractual situations," said O'Neill. "Those conversations go back and forth a lot. It's not a case of picking the phone up and saying 'this is the contract, are you going to sign it?'. Those conversations take months. It's rarely an easy process.
"It's about getting the right balance between the financial outlay and the player's desire to want to be part of it. It's about making sure player and club are on the same pathway."
Dozzell burst on the scene as a 16-year-old then missed the 2017/18 season with a cruciate knee ligament injury. His game time has been sporadic since then, the England youth international restricted to 23 league starts (six this season). The 20-year-old was subject of strong interest from rivals Norwich City last summer, with the Blues believed to offered him a new deal at that time.
Skuse is in his seventh season at Portman Road. The 33-year-old has said that he feels 'as fresh as I did at 20/21' and still has plenty more to give as a player. Lambert has consistently said that he wishes he'd had Skuse in his prime years and 'no player can beat time'. The Blues boss has talked about him taking on an 'ambassador' role at some stage.
Asked about Dozzell and Skuse specifically, O'Neill said: "Andre is a very good young player, he's still developing. He wants to play week-in, week-out in the first team. Cole has been a servant of the club for a very long time.
"They are two players we are talking about and we hope to get something done, but they are back and forth conversations. That's the same with some other players as well - both young players and senior players.
"In an ideal world, of course we would like to keep them. They are good players.
"One is a young player who has done very well for us... but he wants to play football. That's an area we're going to have to look at. The other is a player of experience who can offer a number of things to the football club.
"No player wants to train all week, sit on a bus and just watch the game. Cole is at the other end of his career and will want to maximise the number of games he plays.
"The things we put in place have to be of value to the football club and to the players.
"It's about what we might have coming in, what we can recruit. There are loads of conversations that have to happen. They are happening and they have been happening for a number of months.
"At the end of the season we'll have a better understanding of the economics of what we can and can't do. Those conversations will therefore probably lead all the way up until the summer."