The questions Town need to answer ahead of the big kick-off
- Credit: Archant/ITFC
Ipswich Town start their pre-season campaign this week with a trip to Dartford on Saturday. Mark Heath takes a look at the questions the Blues need to answer with a month left to the big kick-off.
How many more?
The first question is the obvious one - how many more signings will Town make in this summer like no other?
Already, six new faces are through the door - goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky, right-sided player Wes Burns, left-sided player Matt Penney, midfielder Lee Evans, box-to-box man Rekeem Harper and striker Macauley Bonne.
But there are still big holes to fill, particularly at centre-back and on the wings, while another striker and a first choice number ten would be nice too.
Matt Crooks, the giant Rotherham midfielder, would fit the bill for the latter, while the Blues are said to be considering a move for young Everton defender Lewis Gibson too.
And Pompey boss Danny Cowley confirmed last week that Town have had conversations with winger Michael Jacobs.
Even if all three of those do come off, you'd think Cook will still want three or four more new faces before August 7.
Any way back?
First-teamers Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop, Kayden Jackson and Myles Kenlock were all exiled to the U23s as training got underway last week.
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Jack Lankester, who was also there, has since moved to Cambridge United.
It seems unlikely at this point that any of the remaining quartet will play a significant part in the coming season - for Town at least - but there is hope.
Armando Dobra has already been elevated to the first team training sessions, and Cook insists the door will always remain open to them.
Over the next few weeks, he'll have to decide if any of them deserve promoting back to the first team picture.
What is Downes worth?
Of the above players, Downes is without doubt Town's most saleable asset.
He had his head turned by Crystal Palace last summer, with a bid of £1.6m being a long way from Town's valuation of £8m.
Clearly, Town will get nowhere near that now, after a season in which Downes battled injuries and only showed glimpses of his all-action, box-to-box best.
But, with Lee Evans and Rekeem Harper recruited to take his place in the starting XI, it now seems a matter of when, not if, Downes departs.
Peterborough United are leading the chase. How much will Town want? Could they still get £1m plus for a player who not long ago was being talked about as one of League One's best?
Downes will certainly not be allowed to depart for anything less than Town feel he's worth.
Who's going to wear the armband?
Luke Chambers, Town's iconic skipper for the last nine seasons, has departed. He'll likely be wearing the armband down the road at Colchester United next season.
His great friend, and back-up captain at Town, Cole Skuse, is also now at the U's, who will look like an Ipswich veterans' side next season.
So, for the first time in years, Town will definitely have a new captain next season - but who?
The obvious choice is new midfield general Lee Evans. He's an experienced Championship campaigner who's played for Cook before, and will be expected to pull the strings as Town go in search of promotion next season.
Or will a veteran centre-half - a signing Cook certainly covets - fill the captain's role? Luton's Sonny Bradley, whom Town missed out on earlier in the window, would certainly have contended, for example.
Or will combative striker James Norwood, a man whom everyone knows is on the pitch when he's playing, be a surprise choice as skipper? He wore the armband at times last season.
Whoever it is will have a tough act to follow - and a very important part to play.
Who's number one?
One of Town's six new signings, Hladky, has surely been brought in to be Town's first choice keeper.
Incumbent Tomas Holy is still training with the first team though, and figures at this stage to provide competent back up and support for his fellow Czech.
But will there be a battle for the number one shirt? Or will Holy be moved on too, to be replaced by someone else to push Hladky?
Time will tell.