Four goalkeepers, two recalls - a sad state of affairs for Ipswich Town

PAUL Jewell has long been thinking about his future masterplan for Ipswich Town.

Whether it was clawing away from the bottom three, moving into the top-ten or even gate-crashing the play-offs, the Town boss has always had his mind ticking towards next season.

So it is a safe bet that he has already drawn up a list of transfer priorities for next year. A centre-back or two, a winger and a striker are probably all on the list.

But right now, a new, full-time number one has to be top of the tree.

Yesterday, supporters were treated to the news that Alex McCarthy would be returning to his parent club Reading. In one sense, the loss of the England Under-21 keeper is not a big problem, he only had three games left of his deal after all.

But McCarthy is Town’s fourth goalkeeper of the season, two of which have had their loan spell cut short by clauses in their contracts – David Stockdale predictably returned to Fulham before Christmas.

Throw in Richard Wright being signed for a third time and starting instead of Arran Lee-Barrett and the latter seemingly picked whenever someone else isn’t available, and it all adds up to a rather unsavoury state of affairs.

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Quite rightly, a lot of criticism this season has been directed at individual errors and poor defending across the park.

But when there is not a settled presence operating behind them, it hardly makes for a stable environment for what has become the Championship’s worst defence.

Jewell will say Stockdale was a risk worth taking and the Premier League keeper was the best of the quartet, despite keeping goal during many dark times.

But can he say the same about McCarthy, a keeper who signed a long-term contract with Reading on the very same day he was snapped up on loan by the Blues?

With Wright, Lee-Barrett and young American keeper Cody Cropper on the sidelines, cynics will say the McCarthy deal only suited the keeper and Premier League hopefuls Reading – and who can argue?

The situation will not sit easily with Jewell, who could well point to a dearth of available talent to sign permanently.

But he must overcome this problem this summer if Town are to have any chance of mounting a promotion challenge next year.

Search the subs benches, the lower leagues or poach from rivals. Whatever it takes – Town fans will be demanding a new keeper next year.

- What are your views on the goalkeeping situation at Town? Who would you like to see signed next season? Let us know your thoughts below