Ex/current Wigan and Portsmouth players Cook could be reunited with
- Credit: PA
Paul Cook has often turned to players from his former clubs in the past. Will he do the same again at Ipswich Town this summer? STUART WATSON looks at some potential candidates.
Was Paul Cook’s first choice keeper at Wigan during back-to-back season-long loans from Brighton, playing in both League One and the Championship.
After a further spell at Blackburn, his seventh loan in five years, the Cornish custodian looked all set to be push for a Premier League starting spot with the Seagulls.
A freak pre-season injury meant Robert Sanchez leapfrogged him though and the Spaniard never looked back.
It’s been reported that Brighton will trigger a one-year extension option in Walton’s contract and loan him out again.
The former England U21 international has been linked to Norwich, Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday and Luton.
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Versatile Scot played under Cook at Accrington, Portsmouth and Wigan. And the pair have been through quite the journey.
After being reunited at Pompey, Cook soon sent him out on loan to Hartlepool and then banished him to the reserves.
Naismith battled his way back into the picture and, playing as a No.10, scored seven goals in nine matches to fire the South Coast club to the League Two title.
Reflecting recently on the Not The Top 20 Podcast, Cook said: “That was part of his education that it's not all about Kal Naismith, it’s about the team.
“When I re-signed him at Wigan, our relationship was rock solid and trust was there.”
Naismith proved to a key man for the Latics during two seasons in the Championship.
The former winger/forward, 29, plays a mixture of centre-back or left-back these days.
He only signed for Luton in January, though the length of that deal was not disclosed.
Centre-back recovered from the third serious knee injury of his career to play a key role for boyhood club Portsmouth in the season just gone.
He’s now out of contract and, although Pompey have offered fresh terms, the 24-year-old is weighing up his options.
Championship clubs Millwall, Bristol City and Luton are all reportedly interested.
Whatmough made just seven starts during Paul Cook’s two seasons at Fratton Park due to a combination of injuries and the likes of Adam Webster, Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess being established players at the heart of defence.
Cook saw big potential in the homegrown youngster though, saying at the start of 2016/17: “At times the criticism of our team is we lack aggression, but they are the qualities Jack will bring to us, being aggressive off his front foot.”
Centre-back was one of Cook’s first signings at Wigan and he went on to be a key player for three seasons, starting more than 100 games.
Speaking about the powerful defender back in 2019, Cok said: “Chey's such a great lad, we're all so fond of him as a person. He gives you everything he's got and has been brilliant for us.”
The 29-year-old was part of the mass exodus that followed the Latics going into administration, joining Sheffield Wednesday as a free agent, but he’s just endured a difficult debut campaign with the Owls.
Arriving at Hillsborough off the back of a long-term leg break injury, subsequent hamstring issues limited him to just 10 starts as the South Yorkshire club were relegated to League One.
And it was a ring-rusty Dunkley who gave away the costly penalty kick from which Martyn Waghorn scored as a final day 3-3 draw against Derby condemned Darren Moore’s men to the drop.
Now heading into the final year of his contract, Dunkley said: “I won’t hide from criticism. I see the support and I see the threats too. Nevertheless, the team have to come back stronger. We’ll give it our best next season.”
Time will tell if Wednesday look to reduce their wage bill.
Another who played a central role during all three of Cook’s seasons at Wigan.
The central-midfielder was twice brought in on loan – first from Wolves and then from Sheffield United – before signing permanently in January 2019.
Cook said: “Our supporters know all about the quality he brings to our squad. Lee is involved with the Wales squad, so he has great pedigree.”
Evans was one of only three players to stay on at Wigan following administration.
He underwent a knee operation last December but was back in the team three months later.
Wigan boss Leam Richardson said: “Lee's been part of a group that's been emotionally challenged. Mentally he's been in different places. He's certainly got an affiliation with the club, and he wants to see it remain in the division this year.”
The 26-year-old is now out of contract. It would be a real surprise if Town didn’t make a move.
Born and raised in Merseyside, Power is a big Liverpool fan who made more than 100 appearances for Tranmere before moving to the DW Stadium.
The 27-year-old became a popular figure among Latics fans over the next three seasons, helping the club to two League One titles either side of a relegation.
Cook subsequently loaned him to Sunderland, that deal becoming permanent in January 2019.
Power played a mixture of right-back and centre-midfield for the Black Cats last season, wearing the captain’s armband, but was among seven players released following a play-off semi-final loss to Lincoln.
Cook is understood to be keen on a reunion at Portman Road.
Liverpudlian came through the youth ranks at Everton and had Championship loan spells at Barnsley and Bolton before Cook signed him permanently for Wigan in 2019.
The box-to-box midfielder helped the Latics kick on at second-tier level, making 40 appearances as the Lancashire side looked all set for a mid-table finish.
Then along came the shock administration and Williams was sold to Bristol City for £1.2m.
Speaking upon signing a four-year deal at Ashton Gate, he said: “I like to get on the ball, I've got a lot of energy, I like to drive forward. I like to think of myself as a bit of a leader.”
Thigh and hamstring injuries restricted him to just two appearances for the Robins last season though, with The Athletic reporting the 24-year-old was unhappy with his rehab programme.
Ipswich have, of course, appointed several of the Bristol City backroom team this summer, including sports science specialists Andy Costin and Andy Rolls.
After bursting on the scene with hometown club Crewe, the attacking midfielder was snapped up by Manchester United for a fee of £4m at the age of 18.
A breakthrough at Old Trafford proved difficult though and, after loan spells with Wigan, Leicester and Hull, he joined Wigan permanently on a free transfer in 2016.
Cook arrived at the DW Stadium a year later and really started to get the best out of the talented playmaker as he scored 15 goals in the League One title winning season.
Stoke snapped him up a year later and there he has continued to develop.
Powell bagged 12 goals, was named Player of the Year and ended the campaign with the captain’s armband as the Potters finished 14th in the Championship.
The 27-year-old has another year left on his deal at the bet365 Stadium. A player that looks well out of Ipswich’s reach.
Winger was a key man when Wigan won the League One title under Cook, scoring six goals and providing five assists.
He was more of a bit-part player over the next two seasons, making 15 and 21 league starts respectively, though Cook always had praise for the athletic wide man’s hard work and endeavour.
One of just three players who stayed on at the DW Stadium last summer, he’s now a free agent following an injury-affected campaign.
Over his 13 League One starts in the season just gone, he played as a left-winger, right-winger, right wing-back and right-back.
The 28-year-old has previously spent five years in the South East with both Colchester and Leyton Orient.
Could be turned to as a trusted and versatile squad player that won’t blow the budget.
A player that Cook inherited when he became Wigan boss in 2017, Grigg went on to bag 26 goals across all competitions as the Latics won the League One title.
Six months later he was sold, along with Power, to Sunderland for a record League One fee of £3m.
The 29-year-old Northern Ireland international hasn’t been able to replicate his previous prolific third-tier form for the Black Cats though.
He spent the second half of the season just gone on loan at MK Dons, failing to score in 11 appearances, and now enters the final year of his contract.
Cook is understood to be more keen on Sunderland striker Charlie Wyke – the physical front man out of contract following a 31-goal campaign.
Cook signed the striker from Rangers for £2.5m and he went on to score nine goals in 56 games at Wigan.
The 27-year-old departed for Sheffield Wednesday on loan after widespread reports of a bust-up between the pair.
Windass joined the Owls permanently last summer and scored 10 goals across all competitions as the South Yorkshire club finished bottom of the Championship.
Windass has said that he ‘didn’t see eye-to-eye' with Cook, with the latter saying in January, on The Full-Time Whittle podcast, that ‘there’s two sides to every story’.
He added: “There was never a big, massive fallout people said. There was never a situation where the relationship was irretrievable.
“I wish Josh Windass every success in his career. He is not a bad person, he’s not a bad lad.”
Windass now heads into the final year of his deal. Again, time will tell if players are made available for sale at Hillsborough.
WHERE SOME OF COOK’S OTHER FORMER KEY MEN ARE NOW...
David Marshall – Veteran Scottish keeper, 36, has a year left on his Derby deal. Has been linked to Celtic.
Nathan Byrne – Right-back, 28, was a regular starter in debut season at Derby. Still has year left on deal.
Reece James - Right-back, 21, shone on loan at Wigan in 2018/19. Has since kicked on with Chelsea and England.
Kyle Bennett - Left-sided specialist, 30, was a key man for Cook at Portsmouth. Has just been released by Bristol Rovers following a loan spell at Grimsby.
Christian Burgess – Centre-back, 29, made a surprise move to Belgian second-tier side Union SG last summer. Helped them to promotion.
Matt Clarke – Ipswich academy graduate, 24, made a big money move to Brighton in 2019. Centre-back has spent the last two seasons on loan at Derby.
Adam Webster – Former Ipswich centre-back, 26, has been earning rave reviews at Premier League club Brighton.
Cédric Kipré - Big centre-back, 24, signed a four-year deal at West Brom last summer, but ended the season on loan at Belgian side Charleroi.
Sam Morsy – Cook's trusted captain, 29, has two more years left on his contract at Middlesbrough.
Antonee Robinson – Left-back, 23, moved to Fulham for £2m last summer and subsequently made 23 Premier League appearances.
Enda Stevens – Irish left-back, 30, has been a key man for Sheffield United over the last four seasons.
Michael Jacobs - Winger, 29, still has a year (plus extension option) to run at Portsmouth. Restricted to 12 league starts last season due to injuries.
Jamal Lowe – Winger, 26, has just scored 14 goals in a successful debut campaign for Swansea.
Kieffer Moore – Striker, 28, has just scored 20 goals in a successful debut campaign at Cardiff.
Marc McNulty – Scottish striker, 28, did well on loan at Portsmouth in 15/16. Now in the final year of his Reading contract having had loan spells at Hibernian, Sunderland and Dundee United.