Ipswich Town recruitment drive needs to focus on quality, not quantity this summer
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy intends to rebuild the squad following a disappointing 16th place finish. Stuart Watson looks at the summer work ahead.
Bartosz Bialkowski, Dean Gerken
Will Bart depart? He understandably dreams of playing in the Premier League, but is not itching to leave given how settled his young family are in Suffolk and is essentially contracted for two more years.
Town are under no pressure to sell, but if Mick McCarthy needs to raise his own transfer funds then this would be his best option. Would the Blues need to sign a replacement number one? Dean Gerken has proved more than capable. The money would be better spent elsewhere.
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Luke Chambers, Adam Webster, Tommy Smith
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The Blues probably need a fourth centre-back, but not an out-and-out replacement for released warrior Christophe Berra.
Skipper Chambers has looked much better in his proper position, Smith was arguably the team’s best defender in 2015/16, while Webster was a big hit before his season-ending ankle injury and will add a different dimension with his ball-playing abilities.
They could blend well as a three, or compete for places in a two.
If Steven Taylor can prove his fitness in pre-season he may well end up being the extra body required as back-up.
The 19-year-old is strong, quick and has big potential, but it’s clear he’s still learning – as a few positional errors and clumsy penalty fouls have shown.
Chambers shouldn’t go near right-back again, so the Blues need another option for this role.
Jordan Spence did well enough in the second half of last season and would be a cheap, versatile and reliable option to re-sign.
Attack-minded full-backs are a major part of the modern game though and Town could arguably do with an improvement.
Hearts star Callum Paterson, 22, remains on the radar.
Jonas Knudsen, Myles Kenlock
Well stocked here. Danish international Knudsen plateaued during his second season at the club and will need to up his game following a shoulder injury.
Kenlock took his opportunity with both hands and seems a little less raw than Emmanuel.
Danny Rowe is an even more attacking option for this role too.
Cole Skuse, Grant Ward, Teddy Bishop, Luke Hyam, Andre Dozzell, Kevin Bru
Bru has been placed on the transfer list, you can’t plan for Bishop or Hyam to be regulars given their injuries, while Dozzell – who has only just turned 18 remember – probably isn’t ready to start week-in, week-out.
That leaves Skuse as the understated defensive shield, while Ward has done well as a lively presence in the No.10 role. What’s missing, and has been for a while, is a genuine box-to-box man.
Emyr Huws has shown he can do that job during a positive half-season loan spell, but it remains to see if he falls within budget.
Another option would be fellow Cardiff man Tom Adeyemi – who has been on loan at Rotherham.
Getting the balance right in midfield is crucial.
Fans won’t accept another season with too much emphasis on graft rather than guile in the middle of the park. That’s been the crux of the non-entertainment.
There will be times when Town need some genuine wing talent to get fans off their seats.
Rowe has looked bright since making the step up from non-league Macclesfield, while Ward and Freddie Sears can play wide.
Finding another Premier League loan star such as Ryan Fraser or Tom Lawrence would add to the attacking weaponry.
David McGoldrick, Freddie Sears, Brett Pitman, Kieffer Moore
Finally signing a genuine replacement for Daryl Murphy has to be the utmost priority.
The Blues have not just missed his goals since his move to Newcastle, but lacked a physical, focal point to the attack.
Most teams have a player in that mould in this division – someone like Chris Wood, Chris Martin, Scott Hogan or Cameron Jerome.
Pitman has been misused and reportedly been told he can move on, while the 6ft 5in Moore – a £10k recruit from Forest Green – doesn’t, if we’re being brutally honest, look the answer.
This is where the bulk of the budget must go. Town face competition for Marley Watkins (Barnsley, out of contract) and Jordan Hugill (Preston).
This is a golden chance for McCarthy to really freshen up a squad that has gone stale.
Christophe Berra, Jonathan Douglas, Leon Best, Giles Coke, Paul Digby have all been released, Stephen Taylor and Jordan Spence are in limbo, loan quintet Tom Lawrence, Emyr Huws, Jonny Williams, Toumani Diagouraga and Dominic Samuel have all departed, while Kevin Bru and Brett Pitman have reportedly been told they can move on.
That could reduce the squad to 17 first-team players and free up a significant portion of the wage budget to play with. Town have to get ultimate value out of every penny they spend and the focus has to be on quality rather than quantity.
It will be good to get back to having a tight-knit squad.
My wishlist (in order of priority) is:
1) Powerful striker
2) Box-to-box midfielder
3) Attacking right-back
4) Exciting winger
5) Back-up centre-back