What does the future hold for the Ipswich players left sat in the stands?
- Credit: Archant
Andy Warren takes a look at what the future holds this January for the Ipswich Town players who missed out on Paul Lambert’s matchday squads of late.
The former Accrington Stanley defender has been a puzzle this season.
He has shown glimpses of quality at right back but slipped out of the side prior to Paul Hurst’s departure and is now seen very much as a central defender by Paul Lambert.
He sits behind Luke Chambers, James Collins, Matthew Pennington and Toto Nsiala in that pecking order.
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After finally receiving indefinite leave to remain from the Home Office, his loan move to Ipswich has been made permanent, but he is one you might expect to leave the club on a temporary deal this January given his potential for game time is so limited.
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It’s now a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Jonas Knudsen leaves Ipswich Town.
The Dane is out of contract in the summer and is keen to explore his options following three-and-a-half years in Suffolk.
He was joined in the Portman Road directors box by his parents for Saturday’s game, with the Dane seemingly not in Paul Lambert’s thinking given both Callum Elder and Myles Kenlock have played ahead of him in recent weeks.
Clubs in England, Germany and his native Denmark have shown interest since his appearance at last summer’s World Cup.
To suggest we would be discussing the Welshman’s future at this point would have seemed unthinkable during the early weeks of this season.
The winger put in a string of highly encouraging displays during the early weeks of his Ipswich career, including a debut goal and a strike against Norwich, but he has gone off the boil dramatically.
He now finds himself out of the matchday 18, with Jack Lankester ahead of him in the pecking order and Simon Dawkins arriving on a free transfer this month.
There would be a long queue of League One clubs ready to take him on loan if he was to become available on a temporary basis.
The striker, signed from Accrington for £1.6million in the summer, has four goals to his name this season but has spent much of it playing in a lone striker role that doesn’t suit his attributes.
The signings of Will Keane and Collin Quaner have pushed him down the pecking order but he is set to remain with the Blues and fight for his place for the remainder of the season.
The fact he appeared for Stanley on the opening day of the season means he cannot play for another club during this campaign, with players only eligible to be registered with two teams per season.
The midfielder arrived with great expectation on his shoulders, having been the creative force in Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury side.
He’s struggled to stamp his authority on the Championship but has shown flashes of his ability – most notably a superb goal at Birmingham which saw him arrive late in the box and fire home.
The 26-year-old has shown enough to suggest he can be an asset for Ipswich Town going forward, but the arrival of Alan Judge will push him even further down the pecking order.
Clubs at the top end of League One are understood to have shown tentative loan interest in the midfielder, who was one of the third tier’s leading lights last season.
The right-back had played every minute under Lambert prior to Saturday’s defeat of Rotherham, for which he dropped out of the squad entirely.
Costly mistakes at vital times have masked otherwise decent performances, with Pennington performing well in his place against Rotherham.
Spence is out of contract in the summer and, given Lambert’s lack of options at right-back, he is likely to remain at the club until the summer at least.
The youngster spent the first half of the season on loan at St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership, where he made just one start and four substitute appearances.
With Lambert not keen to throw more youngsters into a relegation battle, a second loan of the campaign surely beckons.
The 26-year-old winger has been at Ipswich for two years now but has made just two league starts under three managers in that time.
Injuries and the lingering effects of a virus have troubled him this season but he appears to be a significant distance from the first-team.
Another loan, such as last season’s spell at Lincoln, could be on the cards while a permanent departure can’t be discounted.
The wide midfielder’s season is over due to the knee ligament injury he suffered on Boxing Day at Queens Park Rangers. He’s out of contract at the end of the campaign, meaning there is a chance he has played his last game for the club.
The winger played such a vital role in Lambert’s first two games in charge of the Blues, surprisingly coming in from the cold to play as a central striker.
He was effective in those draws with Preston and Reading but is influence has since waned to the point where he is now not making matchday squads and behind Quaner, Keane and Ellis Harrison in the pecking order.
A loan looks likely, with Bradford, Plymouth and MK Dons said to be interested.
The teenager has now made 10 appearances since returning to action in October, following the knee ligament injury he suffered in August 2017.
Only four have been starts, though, at a time when it’s vital he is playing football for his development.
The youngster is understood to have been keen to explore a loan move in August before ultimately staying at Portman Road.
He stands to be a big part of the club’s future but could a loan move during the second half of this season be mutually beneficial?
The former Cardiff midfielder has made just five appearances for the Blues since arriving in the summer of 2017, firstly due to an ongoing illness and latterly because of an Achilles issue.
He went under the knife before Christmas and could potentially return to training soon, but it’s hard to imagine him being fit enough to return to the field before his contract expires in the summer.
The homegrown defender is sandwiched between starter Elder and soon-to-depart Knudsen in the left-back pecking order.
He’s now made 35 league starts in an Ipswich shirt but has struggled to string them together under any of Mick McCarthy, Hurst or Lambert.
With Knudsen likely to leave, you would expect Kenlock to stay at Portman Road this season but, at some stage, a loan and regular football will do him good.
Another out of contract in the summer.