Ndaba, Nydam, Morris and more - Town’s forgotten men who could make an impact next season
- Credit: Archant
While Ipswich Town bid to strengthen their squad for the 2020/21 season, Mark Heath runs the rule over some of those on the outside looking in - and wonders, could they yet have a part to play in the promotion push?
The curious case of Corrie Ndaba continues at Portman Road.
The powerful central defender appears to have all the tools to make a splash in the game, with boss Paul Lambert hinting he was on the verge of making his senior debut towards the end of the 2018/19 season.
He changed his mind after some poor performances for the U23s, and Ndaba is still waiting for his senior bow, having been out on loan at Hemel Hepstead and Chelmsford, plus seen another loan spell at Ayr fall through.
The left-footed 20-year-old is highly rated at the club, and was one of a few youngsters living in skipper Luke Chambers’ annex. Chambers suggested that he’s suffered with hot headedness in the past - “A couple of them - and I’m probably mainly talking about Corrie - had a few run-ins with different people” - but has since matured and impressed the Town captain.
Ndaba, who’s not been given a squad number for 2020/21, could maybe look at following Luke Woolfenden’s path to the first team, with a character-building loan spell at a lower league club.
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Impact chance: 3/10
Right-back Cotter certainly doesn’t lack confidence - and when he’s played for the first team, he’s generally made an impact.
He memorably shone on his debut as a 19-year-old in Town’s win over Barnsley in April 2018, saluting the North Stand and getting a standing ovation when then-boss Mick McCarthy brought him off, much to fans’ displeasure.
Mick, of course, walked out of Portman Road later that night, somewhat overshadowing the Irishman’s dream display.
Since then, the exciting £50,000 signing from Limerick has gone on loan to Chelmsford and featured for the U23s, before scoring the winning penalty – on his birthday - in the shoot-out triumph over Peterborough in the EFL Trophy last December.
The 21-year-old was ruled out for the season in February having suffered a ruptured adductor and, like Ndaba and others on this list, hasn’t been given a squad number for the coming campaign. He’s certainly behind Kane Vincent-Young, Janoi Donacien and even Gwion Edwards in the right back pecking order, so should perhaps be looking at loans to kick on.
Impact chance: 2/10
It’s probably unfair to suggest that Kenlock is a forgotten man, given he’s played 77 games for Town and is still only 23-years-old.
But he’s still yet to make the left back position his own, having started last season with a run of games in the first XI.
He made 17 appearances in all last campaign - though only a handful in the league, and none at all since the Sunderland defeat at the start of February.
You still feel Kenlock has something to offer though, especially going forward, and just needs a run of games to truly find his feet. Could he be an every game starter at left back for a League One promotion chaser?
Town are likely to target a left back signing this summer, which suggests Lambert thinks not. But, given a chance, Kenlock could surprise.
Impact chance: 7/10
Formerly the next big thing, now the forgotten man. Not too long ago, Nydam was being talked about as a bigger prospect than Flynn Downes,
Then Paul Hurst arrived and sent Nydam off on an ultimately pointless loan to St Johnstone, before that nasty ankle injury at Notts County last summer.
The youngster recently revealed that he hopes to return to action in October/November, and he could well be an option at left back for the Blues.
Nydam, still only 20-years-old, has appeared 21 times for the Blues, having made his debut in August 2017, but has played just 10 minutes of competitive football under Lambert.
He’s versatile, aggressive out of possession and boasts a cultured left foot that is capable of delivering a good set-piece - when he’s back fully fit, he has a lot to offer.
Impact chance: 7/10
Oh Toto. No-one had a worse 2019/20 season at Portman Road than the big centre-back.
He looked a nailed-on starter heading for opening day, only to suffer a torn hamstring while clearing a ball in a friendly clash, an injury which drew the ire of Lambert.
In his absence, Woolfenden established himself as first choice, and when Nsiala did get chances he looked both a liability and utterly bereft of confidence.
Spent the second half of the season on loan at crisis club Bolton, where he made 12 starts, but is now back at Portman Road.
His future looks certain to be away from Ipswich though - a fresh start is surely best for all parties.
Impact chance: 1/10
Another one who’s hard to paint with the forgotten man brush, given his profile at the club and success for England, but Dozzell just can’t seem to get a solid run of games in the side.
The former England U17 midfielder only made eight starts in the league last season, among just 15 total appearances, and was often just parachuted into the side for a game or two before being dropped.
Some of his displays were excellent, notably away at Coventry where he made Ipswich tick, and some of his passing was a joy to behold. He’s clearly an incredibly talented player but, once again, questions remain about whether he’s fully able to exert himself on games.
He remains one of - if not the best – passers of the ball at the club and, now aged 21, will be desperate to play more football for his hometown club.
If Lambert gives him a lengthy run in the team, letting him really find his feet and feel settled – ideally alongside Downes, with whom he seems to have a good understanding – Dozzell could well be the break-out star of next season.
Impact chance: 8/10
The man who was hailed as potentially the next Daryl Murphy when he signed for Town in June 2017 has still yet to play a single minute for the first team.
Still only 22, Drinan is a Republic of Ireland youth international who offers a physical, bustling presence, and a nice finishing touch.
He’s spent time on loan at Sutton, Waterford, Swedish club GAIS and Ayr United, plus scored plenty of goals for Town’s U23 side.
Drinan had a good record on two of those loan spells too - scoring seven goals in five games at Waterford, and netting two in nine at Ayr, with a third strike wiped from the books after the game was abandoned.
Like others on this list though, he’s been left without a squad number for the coming season, but he has been training with the first team in recent weeks. Will hope to finally get a chance in a cup or trophy game this season.
Impact chance: 3/10
Another of the young strikers at the Blues hoping to make a breakthrough, Folami has played six times for the first team so far - but only once last season, in the EFL Trophy defeat at Colchester.
He spent the second half of last season on loan at League Two Stevenage, making two substitute appearances.
The 21-year-old Australian U23 international spent eight months on the sidelines after an Achilles injury suffered in an U23 game against Cardiff last January, and will be eager to kick on. He’s a livewire striker who can play wide as well as through the middle, but has been told he needs to be more physical in the past.
“I have to come back in and prove myself,” Folami said after that Trophy game last November.
“I think I can (make an impact in the league) if I work and train hard and give myself the opportunity I think I can make a difference in the first-team.”
Impact chance: 4/10
Of the three young strikers on this list, Morris has made the biggest impact on the first team picture so far.
The 21-year-old England youth international made his breakthrough during Mick McCarthy’s final season in charge of Ipswich, where he impressed, along with Folami, as a young Town side pushed Crystal Palace all the way in the Carabao Cup in August 2017 before making two league appearances prior to his boss’s departure in April.
He earned a first league start against Nottingham Forest in the first game post-McCarthy, and then looked very lively indeed as a substitute in the latter stages of Paul Hurst’s debut game, the 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers on opening day 2018.
Then came a frustrating loan spell at Forest Green, where he scored once in eight appearances. Since then, he’s been netting regularly for Town’s U23 side.
Another without a squad number, but will surely be at the front of the queue if Lambert looks to give a young striker a chance to prove themselves.
Impact chance: 5/10