Andy Warren: My top three for Town's player-of-the-year award

Town players in a huddle ahead of the game.

Voting for Ipswich Town's player-of-the-year award is now open - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

It’s looking like Ipswich Town’s season will end in disappointment, but there have been plenty of high points. 

In previous years, it’s been tough to pick the Blues’ top performers during hugely disappointing campaigns. 

But it’s a much tougher task this time around, with plenty of players putting in good individual campaigns. 

Voting for the club’s player-of-the-year award, run by the Ipswich Town Supporters Club, is open now, with nominations closing at 8pm on Thursday evening. You can cast your vote here via the Supporters Club website

Here we take a look at a few of the candidates. 

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Christian Walton during the Sky Bet League One match at the Valley, London.

Christian Walton has been superb for Ipswich Town this season - Credit: PA

Christian Walton 

For the first time in League One, Ipswich have a top class goalkeeper between the sticks. 

And what a difference he’s made. He has to be the third tier’s best keeper. 

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Securing Walton on loan was a coup for Paul Cook in August, but the fact the club were able to sign him permanently in January is an outstanding piece of business which will hopefully set the club up for many years to come. 

Walton’s an excellent shot stopper, of course he is, and has been part of a Town defence which has conceded only seven goals under Kieran McKenna, keeping 12 clean sheets. His reaction stop at Wycombe in October springs to mind, when thinking of memorable moments. 

But it’s his command of his box and comfort taking cross which really sets him apart from Town’s previous keepers. 

He’s been outstanding. 

Janoi Donacien at Oxford.

Janoi Donacien says confidence in the Ipswich Town camp is sky high. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Janoi Donacien 

The rebirth of Janoi Donacien has been a joy to watch. 

Not for the first time, it looked as though the defender’s Town career was over when he was loaned to Fleetwood in January of 2021. 

But he returned, survived Cook’s summer cull and was called upon to calm things down as Ipswich shipped goals in the early part of the season. He may not have been the marauding right-back Cook really wanted, but his presence was important as the former boss turned away from his principles a little in search of solidity. 

He’s been a threat in the final third, though, with his assist for Bersant Celina’s late Fleetwood winner a stand-out moment. 

Under McKenna he’s found the perfect role, acting as a defender first-and-foremost but having the capacity to get forward and support Wes Burns. He deserves a hefty slice of credit when discussing his friend’s successes this season. 

Luke Woolfenden and Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna, on the pitch at the end of the 3-0 victory

Luke Woolfenden and Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna, on the pitch at the end of the 3-0 victory over Burton Albion. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Luke Woolfenden 

If there was an award for Ipswich Town’s best player in 2022, then Luke Woolfenden would be the front-runner. 

His turnaround under McKenna has been exceptional, with the academy product showing himself to be the well-rounded defender we’ve see flashes of over the last three seasons. 

He’s been an ever-present under his new boss, playing a central role in the Blues’ stunning defensive record. 

But before then he was so close to leaving the club, having found himself training with the Under 23s under Cook. 

Thank goodness he didn’t. 

George Edmundson speaking to the press after the game.

George Edmundson speaking to the press after the game. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

George Edmundson 

There was a spell during the season where Edmundson would have been considered favourite for this role. 

We had to wait until September to see the former Rangers man in Ipswich blue for the first time, but once he did make it onto the field he was quickly able to show himself to be an extremely solid figure at this level. 

He’s on a long contract so the hope must be that he can move through the divisions at Ipswich. He has shown he has the potential to do that and he’ll surely be in the conversation for this award in 12 months’ time. 

It’s just a shame his season was ended early by an ankle injury. 

Bersant Celina congratulates Sam Morsy after he had scored Towns goal.

Bersant Celina congratulates Sam Morsy after he had scored Towns goal. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Sam Morsy 

Much was expected of the Ipswich Town captain following his late arrival from Middlesbrough. 

“Everything that we lacked today will be there times 10 from him,” Cook said, following Town’s 5-2 slapping by Bolton, before Morsy had made his debut. “There will be no performances like that when he’s in the team.” 

Morsy and the former Town boss knew each other inside out from their time together at both Chesterfield and Wigan, but it’s McKenna who has truly unlocked the skipper’s ability. 

The Egypt international has switched to a more advanced role, with McKenna encouraging him to get forward and drive to the box. Ipswich are a better side as a result and Morsy has shown why he should really be playing in the Championship. 

He’s scored twice and should have had a few more, while offering good leadership to the newly-assembled squad. 

Wes Burns celebrates at Adams Park during the win over Wycombe Wanderers.

Wes Burns celebrates at Adams Park during the win over Wycombe Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Wes Burns 

The first man through the door during the summer rebuild has been a fixture in the Ipswich side from start to finish. 

The flying Welshman started on the right of Cook’s attacking three and now finds himself playing as an incredibly advanced wing-back under McKenna. It’s a role which seems to suit his skillset perfectly. 

At his best, you can see Burns sizing up the opposition left back inside the first few minutes of games and then fire himself past them time and time again during the 90 minutes. His display at Oxford recently, in which he was outstanding, highlights everything that’s good about Ipswich’s No.7. 

He’s scored 11 goals and is just one shy of Macauley Bonne’s tally of 12 which, right now, sees the striker sit as Town’s top scorer. 

Burns will be hoping to claim that award, too. 

Macauley Bonne applauds fans after the game.

Macauley Bonne has scored one goal in his last 18 games. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Macauley Bonne 

If voting was taking place in September or October, there would only have been one winner. 

Bonne was on fire at the start of the season, netting 11 goals in his first 15 League One games for his boyhood club and carrying the team at a time when things were tough off the pitch. 

He was living out his dream and dragging us all along with him. It felt like a very special time. Bonne Mania. 

But his season has fallen off a cliff, with just one goal in his last 25 matches and a starting spot no longer his. 

Where he’ll be playing his football next season remains to be seen. 

Wes Burns celebrates his first half goal with teammate Janoi Donacien.

Janoi Donacien and Wes Burns have developed a fine right-side partnership - and a trademark handshake celebration! - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Andy’s vote 

In addition to the players above, there are a few more deserving of a mention here. 

Bersant Celina, Conor Chaplin and Sone Aluko have all had their big moments this season but have probably suffered because both Cook and McKenna has rotated his attacking midfielders regularly. 

Celina can comfort himself with almost certainly winning the goal-of-the-season award for his effort against Crewe at the end of November. 

Kayden Jackson showed plenty of quality during his short spell in the first-team, before injury struck. Would he have been in the running had he played a full season? 

Morsy would have been my pick had he been playing his current role, to his current standard, for the entirety of the campaign. He’s the midfield warrior Ipswich have needed for a while. 

It’s just good to have so many players worthy of discussing for honours. 

But here goes with my top three. 

Bronze goes to Walton, who could easily be a fixture between the sticks for the next five years and beyond, as long as Ipswich can continue to match his ambitions. He’s been excellent. 

Silver goes to Donacien – a player everyone has surely enjoyed watching this season given everything he’s been through at Ipswich. He’s been the definition of solid for his team and has now found a role which suits him perfectly. 

Gold, then, is for Wes Burns. He hit the ground running as a Town player, is exciting to watch and has captured the imagination of plenty of supporters during his first Ipswich season. His attitude is spot on, too, with the Welshman playing his part in the club’s community work. An excellent addition. 

A real threat from wide areas has been lacking for several years – Burns has finally supplied it.