Superstitious nonsense or serious business? - Plenty of intrigue as Ipswich Town play the numbers game
PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 July 2019
With several shirts left vacant following departures, ANDY WARREN takes a look at potential changes on the Ipswich Town squad number list.
You either place importance in them or you don't.
For some it's simply a number on the back of a shirt but for others, including me, they are a subculture of their own and are packed with intrigue.
That goes for players and managers, too.
Some players couldn't care less what adorns the back of their shirts while others agonise over the decision of which to wear and are superstitious in the extreme . It's also been known for money to change hands in order to claim a desired numbers.
Some managers personally allocate numbers to their players, making decisions based on those central to their plans, while others place little stock in them and let the players decide for themselves.
There's likely to be plenty of change on the Ipswich squad sheet this summer, with numbers one, three, five, six and 10 among those available. The Blues usually release their squad numbers towards the end of July, often around the club's Open Day, which is scheduled for Thursday July 25.
Here we take a look at some potential changes.
The race for No.1
As things stand, Bartosz Bialkowski and Tomas Holy will be battling it out for the starting spot between the Ipswich Town sticks.
The collapse of Bialkowski's move to Millwall means the Pole could potentially still be at Portman Road come the big kick-off, despite all the signs pointing towards an exit in the wake of relegation.
His long-time colleague Dean Gerken has departed, though, leaving the No.1 shirt vacant.
Despite being the undisputed starter for much of his time at Portman Road, he's continued to wear No.33.
He's likely to stick with that if, and it remains an if, he is still at the club coming August 3, meaning Holy is likely to take the No.1 shirt.
The case for the defence
This is where the intrigue really begins with the number three, five and six shirts - traditionally reserved for defenders - available.
As things stand Myles Kenlock is the only specialist left-back at the club but, in the wake of Jonas Knudsen's departure, it would be a real show of faith from manager Paul Lambert if he was to be allocated the No.3 jersey.
Matthew Pennington and Trevoh Chalobah vacating the number five and six shirts could pave the way for Toto Nsiala to break into the first 11, but the former Shrewsbury man has worn No.22 at his last three clubs.
Don't bet against either being left vacant, either, with defensive targets likely.
Taking what's rightfully his?
There's seemingly only one contender for the No.10 shirt recently vacated by Ellis Harrison.
James Norwood scored 93 goals wearing 10 at Tranmere, including 32 last season, and is surely set to continue his run in that jersey in Suffolk.
Hopefully his hot streak continues.
Hello old friend
Alan Judge took the No.31 shirt upon joining the Blues in January, but is surely set to change for next season.
He wore the No.18 shirt for the entirety of his six-year stay at Brentford and, following the departure of Grant Ward, that jersey is free for him at Portman Road.
Judge has also worn 10, 14, 23 and 25 during his career to date.
The high rollers
The Blues' ended last season with a senior squad totalling nearly 50 professional players.
The likes of James Bree (41), Collin Quaner (45) and Simon Dawkins (49) have all departed, but some of the Blues' younger players took high squad numbers when given their professional deals.
The most notable is Jack Lankester, who has worn the No.36 shirt since breaking into the first-team picture last summer.
The winger is surely in line for something more suited to his ability. If you're asking me, the No.14 shirt would suit him just fine.
The likes of Idris El Mizouni (42) and Corrie Ndaba (47) could also be set for a change.
Then there's Emyr Huws, who has worn 44 since arriving at Portman Road in 2017. Injuries have ravaged him since, so he may fancy a change.
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