Who might Town turn to in January? – Part two: Strikers to cure Lambert’s lack of goals
- Credit: Archant
Signing strikers will be a top priority for Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert in January. ANDY WARREN looks at names who could fit the bill for the Blues.
Peter Crouch (Stoke City)
The moment Paul Lambert made it clear he wanted players with experience and hinted at targeting players he had worked with before, Peter Crouch’s name jumped to the top of many lists.
The 42-cap England international will be 38 by the end of January but is still looking sharp. He’s made 17 appearances for the Potters this season, scoring once, but those appearances have included just one league start and a combined 357 minutes of Championship football.
Given he is forging a successful media career and is still involved at Stoke, would he fancy the rough and tumble of a relegation battle? Would Gary Rowett be happy to let him go, given he offers a different option from the bench?
Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City)
Crouch is not the only Stoke player Lambert could go back for.
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Mame Biram Diouf was being deployed at right back or in midfield when Lambert arrived at the bet365 Stadium in January but the Scot quickly restored him to his favoured position as a central striker.
The 29-year-old, who was previously at Manchester United and Blackburn, has struggled for game time this season and has only made eight appearances. They have again come largely in midfield.
Could a reunion with Lambert and a return to his favoured position get the former Manchester United and Blackburn man firing again?
Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)
Injury has robbed the former Ipswich academy product, now 25, of time on the field in the last three years. He’s only made 30 starts since joining Crystal Palace in the summer of 2015 but is back on the field now having recovered from a serious knee injury.
He scored with a superb bicycle kick for Palace’s Under 23 side on Monday before being sent off minutes later, prompting Eagles supporters to call for his return to the senior team.
Whether Roy Hodgson brings him into the fold remains to be seen, but it’s clear the striker needs minutes. He would fit Lambert’s mould well, offering a physical and mobile presence in attack.
This could benefit both parties.
Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough)
Fletcher is a young man who Ipswich have been tracking for some time under previous managers.
He’s now at Middlesbrough, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Sunderland from the Teessiders, but has struggled for time on the field.
His surprise start against Blackburn on Saturday was his first in the league since August, but he was hooked after half-an-hour as Boro reshuffled following Mo Besic’s red card.
He showed with Sunderland last season that he is not afraid to join a relegation fight.
Rudy Gestede (Middlesbrough)
The French striker had to wait until late November to make his first league start of the season and that ended after just 27 minutes due to a hamstring injury.
He was prolific at Blackburn in tandem with Jordan Rhodes, scoring 32 goals in 60 league games, before £6million moves to Villa and then Boro fell somewhat flat.
Whether he is available or fancies the challenge at the bottom of the table remains to be seen, but he fits the bill.
Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest)
They say never go back. And the Ipswich returns of James Scowcroft, Shefki Kuqi and Jon Walters may be evidence as to why.
But would Daryl Murphy, now 35, be the veteran presence Ipswich Town need right now?
His 43 goals between 2014 and 2016 show just how valuable he was for the Blues and he is still a physical focal point two-and-a-half years later.
He’s on the fringes at the City Ground, with just six league appearances all season, and if Aitor Karanka strengthens for his side’s promotion push the Irishman may be surplus to requirements.
Bright Enobakhare (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Prior to his time at Stoke, Lambert’s last management stop was at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Here he worked with young Nigerian striker Enobakhare, with Lambert regularly praising the 20 year-old ability. He ‘could be worth a fortune’, the Blues boss once said.
He’s on loan at Kilmarnock until January and, while he may not be the experienced striker Lambert is really after, he may see Enobakhare as a support option for his striker-thin squad.
Scott Hogan (Aston Villa)
Rewind to the start of the 2016/17 season and Hogan was one of the Championship’s leading scorers, prior to his £12million move to Villa Park.
Things have been a little tougher since, with only seven goals in 58 games in the second city, and now the 28-year-old is having to get used to life on the bench.
He didn’t play at all for Villa this season prior to the arrival of his former Brentford boss, Dean Smith, but despite being more involved he’s still behind Tammy Abraham and Jonathan Kodjia.
Could a loan move to Ipswich get him firing again?
Sam Gallagher (Southampton)
A talented 23-year-old who has never truly managed to establish himself in the Southampton first team.
He’s had loan spells in the Championship with Blackburn and Birmingham and offers a physical presence, good movement and ability in the air.
Has played just once for Saints this season, in the cup, and would be available on loan again in January.
Gary Madine (Cardiff)
Madine’s January move to Cardiff from Bolton stopped him in his tracks.
He’d scored 14 goals last season prior to the £6million switch and, nearly a year later, has yet to open his account for the Bluebirds.
The 28-year-old is on the fringes of a Cardiff side looking for strikers this winter and would surely be available if they are able to do that.
He’s as physical as they come and knows the Championship but doesn’t fit the ‘high energy’ mould Lambert asks from his strikers, though.
Danny Ward (Cardiff)
Ward, a former Ipswich target of Mick McCarthy’s prior to his move to Cardiff from Rotherham in 2017, is in a similar boat to Madine in South Wales.
The 27-year-old has made 10 appearances for Neil Warnock’s side, scoring once, but could fall down the pecking order if new strikers are brought in.
He would be a cheaper option than Madine and is also more fitting to Lambert’s ideals.
Gary Hooper (Sheffield Wednesday)
The 30-year-old is closing in on full fitness following a groin injury and has a proven record at Championship level.
Lambert was said to be interested in him during his time at Aston Villa, while the striker was at Celtic, and he could be available again given the abundance of strikers at Sheffield Wednesday.
He scored 11 goals in just 25 appearances last season.
Nelson Oliveira (Norwich City)
What chance of a direct transfer between these two East Anglian rivals?
This isn’t akin to targeting Wes Hoolahan or Grant Holt in their pomp – Oliveira has been frozen out at Carrow Road and wants to leave, while the Canaries want to offload him.
The Portugal international is a top class player on his day but has fallen out of favour, and is said to have turned down summer moves to Europe.
He plays with passion and skill and is a physical figure. Would he fancy getting some gametime just down the road?
Nicklas Helenius (OB Odense)
And here’s the leftfield option.
The 27-year-old was signed by Lambert at Aston Villa, with the Ipswich Town boss regular praising and encouraging his young forward despite him finding Premier League life hard.
He returned to Denmark without a goal to his name in 2014 but has been a regular scorer since, with six in 18 games in the Danish top flight this season.
He’s 6ft 5in and mobile. What price a reunion?