Deal or no deal?

Ipswich Town correspondent Carl Marston casts his eye over the 21 out-of-contract players at Portman Road, and gives his opinion on who is likely to stay, and who is set to go

THE magic number at Portman Road, for most of this season, has been 21.

And that has nothing to do with keeper Marton Fulop’s squad number.

Twenty-one was the total number of players set to be out-of-contract this summer. Already that figure has been whittled down, but there are still decisions to be made, by individual players and the club alike.

Below is a run-down of that full house of 21, with regards whether they will/could be at Portman Road next season, or plying their trade elsewhere.


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1 Gareth McAuley:

Situation: Offered new deal.

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Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Town’s inspirational centre-half will not be lost for offers, if he does opt to leave Portman Road. But the 31-year-old has enjoyed his time at Town and is highly regarded by manager Paul Jewell. He is a strong favourite to be crowned Town’s player-of-the-season.

2 Damien Delaney:

Situation: Offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Town’s no-nonsense defender has always stated that he wants to stay at Town, if the terms are right, and that should turn out to be the case.

3 David Norris:

Situation: Offered deal earlier in year.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: Town’s skipper, who netted his 10th goal of the season at Burnley last week, was offered a two-year package earlier in the season, but he wants a three-year deal. Other clubs are interested, headed by Portsmouth.

4 Carlos Edwards:

Situation: Clause for another year on his contract has clicked in.

Fact: DEAL.

Summary: Successfully converted from a winger to a right-back in recent months, arrived at Sunderland two years ago, with the possibility of a third year on his contract, depending on appearances and is sure to be at Portman Road next term.

5 Alan Quinn:

Situation: Unlikely to be offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: The Irishman has had a nightmarish run of injuries (mainly groin problems) that have prevented him from playing at all this season. Town fans have seen nothing of their midfielder. And they are unlikely to see him in a Town shirt again.

6 Colin Healy:

Situation: Offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Although used only sparingly in recent games, the midfielder made a favourable impression when Jewell first arrived, not least the two Carling Cup semi-final ties against Arsenal. The 31-year-old will hope to reignite his career next season, almost certainly with Town.

7 Brian Murphy:

Situation: Offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Like Healy, the fellow Irishman was offered a new contract only this week. A broken ankle has so far prevented him from playing under Jewell. He wants regular first team football to further his fast-fading international aspirations, and he could still find that with Town.

8 Arran Lee-Barrett:

Situation: Unlucky if not offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: It will be interesting to see whether Jewell opts for the same three keepers next season. Although he has mostly been the Town No. 3, behind Marton Fulop and Murphy, Lee-Barrett is currently in possession of the starting berth. There might be a question mark over his kicking, but he deserves another deal.

9 Ian McLoughlin:

Situation: Released.

Fact: NO DEAL.

Summary: Released earlier this week, having signed a one-year extension to his contract last summer, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international never made a first team appearance for Town and is currently on loan at League Two basement dwellers Stockport.

10 Conor Hourihane:

Situation: Likely to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: Recruited by former boss Roy Keane last summer from Sunderland, midfielder Hourihane has been an unused substitute in five games, but has in truth never come close to making his debut.

11 Reggie Lambe:

Situation: Likely to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: The 20-year-old Bermudan winger made his League debut in the opening day 3-1 win at Middlesbrough. He has chalked up nine appearances for the Bermudan national team, but it will be touch-and-go whether he is still at Portman Road next season.

12 Jamie Griffiths:

Situation: Likely to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: Just one senior appearance, as an injury-time substitute in Town’s Carling Cup fourth round win over Northampton in October. The 19-year-old midfielder has not been in the squad since, although he has been hampered by injury.

13 Jack Ainsley:

Situation: Likely to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: The 20-year-old full-back was a late substitute for Mark Kennedy at Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season, having signed a one-year extension to his deal at the end of April. Has not made the expected progress. Spent a month on loan at Blue Square Premier strugglers Histon in the autumn.

14 Tom Eastman:

Situation: Unlucky if not offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: This promising defender has been left out-in-the-cold under Jewell, despite making 12 appearances during the first half of this season. His last outing was a 1-0 home defeat at Hull on November 20. However, I believe he has shown enough to be given another contract.

15 Troy Brown:

Situation: Unlucky if not offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Like Eastman, the Welsh under-21 international has been frozen out of the Town squad since Jewell’s arrival. His last game was the torrid 7-0 defeat at Chelsea. But he did not look out of place in previous games, most notably the Carling Cup win over WBA, so deserves another deal.

16 Ronan Murray:

Situation: Currently on loan at Torquay.

Fact: DEAL.

Summary: This striker was often employed as a substitute during the first half of the season, and scored in the Carling Cup win at Exeter City. His last outing was as an injury-time substitute at Arsenal. He has played five games on loan for League Two Torquay, scoring in the home win over Cheltenham. He deserves another crack at the whip.

17 Luke Hyam:

Situation: Unlucky if not offered new deal.

Carl’s crystal ball: DEAL.

Summary: Handed the holding role in Town’s midfield under Keane for the first couple of months of this season, he impressed for the first few weeks, but was then sent off for two bookable offences in the 1-0 defeat at Reading. Just one more start, in a 2-1 home defeat by Coventry. Troubled by a hamstring injury, he is now fully fit, but has yet to appear under Jewell. Town have options in midfield, but they also need strength in depth.

18 Billy Clark:

Situation: already released.

Fact: NO DEAL.

Summary: The 19-year-old midfielder was released this week, having failed to make a senior appearance this season. He played three games as a substitute towards the back end of the previous campaign.

19 Pablo Counago:

Situation: Set to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: Currently coming to the end of his season-long loan at Championship rivals Crystal Palace, the 31-year-old Spaniard has already accepted that he will not kick a ball for Town again. He has only managed two goals for Palace this term.

20 Kevin Lisbie:

Situation: Set to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: Like fellow striker Counago, this 32-year-old has spent the season away from Portman Road, in south London, having fallen out with Keane. In-and-out of the Lions team, he has contributed four goals from 18 Championship games.

21 David Cawley:

Situation: Likely to be released.

Carl’s crystal ball: NO DEAL.

Summary: The 19-year-old Irishman, a central midfielder, has not played for Town’s senior team and is likely to be playing his football elsewhere next season.

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