What the 2020/21 season holds for every Ipswich Town player
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town kick off their League One season on Sunday with the visit of Wigan Athletic. ANDY WARREN looks at what the season holds for 30 of Paul Lambert’s players.
The giant Czech goalkeeper is back for his second season in an Ipswich shirt, having given a decent account of himself in his debut campaign without being able to lockdown the No.1 shirt during his battle with Will Norris last summer.
He’s set for another battle this season, with the newly-signed David Cornell, with the former Gillingham man looking to establish himself at Town once-and-for-all.
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The Welshman wanted a fresh start as his contract at Northampton came to an end in the summer and, after a bit of a wait, he’s got it at Ipswich.
His first job will be to try and win the starting job as he battles Tomas Holy for the gloves but, even if he starts as back-up, the opportunity is there to force his way into the side.
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The youngster, signed from West Brom last summer, made considerable progress during his first season and perhaps surprised the club’s coaches with what he was able to do.
He played once, impressing at Peterborough in the EFL Trophy, but will serve as firm third-choice this time around and will need to remain patient.
The summer signing has made a quick impression on the Ipswich Town squad and it’s clear his vocal brand of leadership is needed in the dressing room.
He’s a nailed on starter at left-back and looks likely to be a fixture in the side from the off as the Blues bid to force themselves into the promotion race. He could prove to be a valuable addition.
The skipper is back for another season as the veteran defender enters his ninth campaign at Portman Road. He’s already made a goalscoring start, having begun the season at right-back, but once Kane Vincent-Young returns he’s likely to revert to the centre.
He’s in the final year of his contract.
The Welsh defender wasn’t an eye-catching addition when signed on a free transfer last summer but without playing a starring role, proved himself to be a useful acquisition and a safe pair of hands.
He has a battle on his hands to start this season, with Toto Nsiala and Luke Woolfenden appearing to be the the favoured pair right now, but he will need to take his chances if and when they come.
This is a big season for the academy product, who signed a new long-term deal earlier this summer. He again appears central to Lambert’s plans, even if his boss has stated publicly the youngster’s need to ‘step things up’ earlier this summer.
There’s likely to be interest from clubs higher up the football pyramid along the way.
Things weren’t looking good for the defender earlier this summer when he was stripped of the No.2 shirt and moved to 12. Once everyone’s fit he’s firmly behind Kane Vincent-Young in the right-back pecking order but has been assured he will be given a chance to claim a place in the side if he performs.
Offers cover in the centre of defence as well as at left-back.
It’s been a long time coming but the talented Irishman has finally made his Ipswich Town debut. He’s done himself no harm at all in pre-season, with a series of impressive displays, with that form continuing into his first start against Arsenal’s U21.
Keep that up and the calm and collected youngster can be a serious proposition in the centre of the Ipswich defence.
When Toto Nsiala was loaned to Bolton in January, it looked for all the world his Ipswich Town career was coming to an end. But now he’s back and there’s every chance the former Shrewsbury man could start the campaign in the middle of the Town defence.
He needs to find a new level of consistency if he’s going to stay there, though, given there is real competition in the backline.
It’s very easy to forget the former Tottenham and Colchester defender has only played nine games for Ipswich Town, but what a run of nine games it was. He’s dealing with injury again at the start of this season but, once fit, he’ll be a flying addition to the Ipswich Town right.
He was a real attacking threat when he played last season and, if that can be rekindled, he will be a vital member of Lambert’s side.
The signing of Stephen Ward means Kenlock is, once again, destined to serve as the back-up left-back for Ipswich Town, as he has the majority of his football career to date. He’s never really had a long run in the side to show what he can do but, at the same time, hasn’t taken his chances fully when they have come.
But, given the fact Ward is 35 and unlikely to play every single game, Kenlock will need to be ready to come into the side and hit the ground running.
The old stager is back for another season on a one-year deal and appears to have a bigger fight than ever on his hands for a place in the Ipswich midfield. An injury in pre-season hasn’t helped, but the fact Andre Dozzell has come into the team and done so well in Skuse’s usual deeper role means he faces a battle to start comes.
He’s sure to do so at some point, though, with his experience surely proving valuable when he does make it onto the field.
It looks as though Nolan could be the man to profit from the situation surrounding Flynn Downes and could start the season in Lambert’s starting XI. From there, it’s up to him to take his chance.
His time with Ipswich has been a little stop/start at times, with flashes of brilliance and other games where he has been all too quiet. We’ve seen enough to know he’s capable of being an important part of the side, he just needs to find a level of consistency.
Another summer where we’re talking about this being a big season for Teddy Bishop. This year, though, he’s fit, raring to go and looks a likely starter on opening day. The big challenge for him now is to maintain that status.
His is a skillset unique among the large number of central midfielders at the club, as he picks up possession and drives at defenders with the ball. He needs to add goals, he’ll admit that, but most importantly we all wish for a fully fit campaign.
It’s been more than a year since the young midfielder kicked a ball in anger, having suffered a nasty ankle injury during a pre-season friendly at Notts County last summer.
He’s still on his way back but there is hope he could be fit to play again in October, at which point he will become another option in an already crowded midfield. A loan is a possibility.
The stage was set for Judge to be the centrepiece of the Ipswich Town side a year ago, heading into the first League One season, but things just didn’t work out for a variety of reasons as he ended up enduring an up-and-down campaign.
The same pressure is not on his head this time around but, whether it be in his favoured No.10 position or in a wide role, there will still be an expectation to perform.
The homegrown midfielder is the consensus pick as Town’s best player but it’s become clear he feels he’s outgrown the club and is ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Whether he gets his wish remains to be seen. His absence will leave a real hole in the Ipswich midfield but, if he stays, he’s got the ability to be the best player in his position in the entire league.
The stage appears set for Dozzell to truly make his mark this season. He has a bespoke role made for him at the base of the Ipswich midfield and, if pre-season and the early weeks of the campaign are anything to go by, Ipswich will look to play through the young England international.
The young midfielder’s future will be decided by the events of the 2020/21 season. He’s out of contract at the end of it and talks regarding a new deal have reached no conclusion as of yet.
Idris El Mizouni
The young Tunisian international has shown plenty of promise over the last 18 months but looks set for a real battle when it comes to earning regular first-team football with the Blues this season.
There is a considerable amount of midfield traffic in his way, with manager Lambert opting to leave him out of the season’s squad photo in a bid to encourage him to ‘earn the right’. A loan away, such as the one he spent at Cambridge last season, seems likely.
Last season was a big one for Emyr Huws as he proved he could stay fit after two injury-hit seasons. But now he must prove he is still the same player who took the club by storm during his loan in 2017.
Like the rest of the Town midfield he has real competition for a place but, especially if Downes departs, he must be looking to nail down a regular place in Lambert’s starting XI.
The academy product has made real progress over the last year, forcing his way into the first-team picture with four mature displays in the Ipswich midfield.
He has been rewarded with a new contract, until the summer of 2022, but is a definite candidate for a loan move away as he bids to progress his young career.
Having played much of last season filling in at right back, the Welshman looks set for a move back into his more favoured role on the Ipswich Town flanks.
He’ll need to earn his place in the side but Lambert has shown a willingness to use him on the left wing – a role where he excelled during his time with Peterborough. He needs to perform consistently.
Cliché alert – the return of the young winger is like a new signing for Ipswich Town. He is set for a first competitive appearance in 20 months, having dealt with two back surgeries, but is raring to go.
His ability to cut inside from the right flank, onto his sweet left foot, could prove to be a real attacking weapon for Lambert this season. Patience may be required.
Lambert’s 4-3-3 system looks perfect for Sears, who was one of the shining lights in the Town boss’s early weeks in charge back in 2018 as he used his pace, intelligence and drive to cause trouble from the left flank.
He’s started this season well, with a brace against Bristol Rovers and will be hoping to build on that. If he can, he can be a real force for Ipswich.
It’s clear just how talented this young man is, following a breakthrough season in which he was given a few opportunities to show it and became a player who got fans off their seats.
But are we maybe expecting a little much too soon? It looks likely Dobra will need to bide his time and could even benefit from a loan move away. Whatever happens, though, he’s a player with real promise.
The rapid striker was one of the success stories of last season, with his 11 goals and seven assists proving important to the Blues throughout the campaign.
But things seem a little different now. Contract issues, links with other clubs and a tough time fitting him into Lambert’s new system means the striker’s future is up in the air. A groin injury hasn’t helped, either.
The 30-year-old arrived to great fanfare last summer and, despite the fact he scored 11 goals while being hampered by groin trouble, still has a little way to go to completely prove his worth at Portman Road.
Like Jackson, he’s also been linked with a move away, but Lambert’s system appears to suit him, given he scored 32 goals in League Two in 2018/19 playing in a similar formation. He’ll be hoping for better this time around.
It seemed as though the young Irishman’s chance had gone, but the injuries and unavailability of Jackson, Norwood and Oli Hawkins have opened the door for the 22-year-old Irishman.
He’s done his chances no harm at all during pre-season, with his controlled yet bullish displays up top, and appears in pole position to start on opening day. From then, it’s his job to ‘keep the shirt’.
The new signing isn’t the most prolific of strikers but his real strengths lie in the way he can make space for others and bring team-mates into the game. He’s a physical presence at 6ft 5inch, which could come in handy given it’s a trait the Blues were lacking last season.
Patience may be needed as he gets up to speed following his summer arrival.