Grading all 24 of Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town signings

Paul Lambert has signed 24 players during his time as Ipswich Town manager

Paul Lambert has signed 24 players during his time as Ipswich Town manager - Credit: Archang

Ipswich Town have made 24 first-team signings since Paul Lambert’s appointment as manager, with two more arriving earlier this week before the transfer deadline passed. 

There have been hits, misses and plenty in between during the Town boss’s two-and-a-half years in charge. We rate them all here. 

Gradings aren’t simply a reflection of the player’s ability on the football pitch, but also take into account the impact they made when compared to the club’s outlay and expectation levels following their signing. 

Paul Lambert, in a downbeat mood during his post-match interviews at Plymouth Argyle, despite a 2-1 away win. Picture...

Paul Lambert has signed 24 players during his time as Ipswich Town manager - Credit: Pagepix

January 2019 

Callum Elder - loan from Leicester 

Jonas Knudsen’s desire to leave and a lack of confidence in Myles Kenlock meant Ipswich needed a left-back in January 2019, with Elder the man brought in on loan. 

His debut came in the FA Cup humbling at Accrington before his third game was something of a disaster, as he struggled throughout and conceded a penalty in the loss to Blackburn. He didn’t play again until Town’s relegation had been concerned, making just four appearances in total. 

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He’s now arguably League One’s highest-rated left-back at Hull. F 

Will Keane - loan from Hull, then free agent (summer 2019) 

Keane’s only making this list once, despite signing for Ipswich twice under Lambert. 

He first arrived on loan in January 2019 and added an element of control to the Ipswich attack, scoring three times and securing five points for the Blues. His season effectively ended in late February, though as he suffered a hamstring injury. 

He eventually rejoined at the end of August and, while having some good games throughout the course of the season, was largely behind James Norwood and Kayden Jackson in a side not always set up to play to his strengths. 

Collin Quaner – loan from Huddersfield 

The big German striker, who didn’t always use his physical stature to the extent you would expect, had some good moments in an Ipswich shirt but was undercooked when signed on loan and didn’t truly get going until it was too late. 

He scored four goals in 16 games and has played just six games of football since leaving Town in the summer of 2019. He’s now at St Mirren in Scotland. C- 

Simon Dawkins made just two substitute appearances for Ipswich Town. Photo: Pagepix

Simon Dawkins made just two substitute appearances for Ipswich Town. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Simon Dawkins - free agent 

Dawkins was an Aston Villa player during Lambert’s time there but never got going at all at Ipswich. 

He played just 34 minutes of football for Town and hasn’t signed with another club since moving on. F 

James Collins – free agent 

Could things have been different had Collins been a few years younger or that little bit fitter? 

When he played, he was excellent. His debut display against Rotherham was a triumph in defending as he helped the Blues secure a much-needed victory. Sadly, though, his body let him down. He too has not played since leaving. C 

Alan Judge – Brentford, nominal fee  

The Irishman was an exciting January signing who brought effort and desire to an Ipswich attack lacking both on the way to relegation. Signing him up for League One was a coup as well, with expectations high. 

Despite having some good moments, he hasn’t reached the heights expected of him. Being played wide, rather than having a regular run as a No.10, certainly hasn’t helped matters. He now has significant competition for a place in the side. C 

James Bree could return to the Ipswich Town side tonight. Photo: Steve Waller

James Bree is now at Luton - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

James Bree – loan from Aston Villa  

Once it became clear Jordan Spence wouldn’t play for Ipswich again under Lambert and with Janoi Donacien back at Accrington on loan, the Scot needed a new right-back. Bree was his man as he returned to Villa to bring the youngster to Suffolk. 

He was an upgrade on the ball, showing ability to get forward, but had some suspect moments defensively. He’s now at Luton. D 

Summer 2019 

Tomas Holy - free from Gillingham 

The Czech has been a real hit with supporters – partly due to his giant frame and also due to the fact his bubbly character and humble nature is incredibly endearing. 

He’s been between the sticks for Town’s stunning starts to each of the last two seasons but hasn’t been able to sustain that , losing his place on both occasions after runs of poor form. He has the gloves now, though. C 

James Norwood celebrates his penalty conversion at Bolton. Picture: Pagepix Ltd

James Norwood celebrates his penalty conversion at Bolton. Picture: Pagepix Ltd - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

James Norwood - free from Tranmere  

The lower-league hotshot was the centre-piece of Ipswich Town’s summer business in 2019 as they looked to assemble a strikeforce to fire them out of League One. 

The early signs were good as he found the net regularly and captured the imagination of the fanbase. Injuries have bitten ever since, though, with Norwood admitting he as ‘playing at 50%’ during his first campaign in Blue.  

He’s fit now, though and remains Town’s best striker. Hopefully there is more to come. C+ 

Luke Garbutt – loan from Everton 

The Everton loanee perfectly encapsulates Ipswich Town’s 2019/20. An excellent start (with some free-kick goals and incisive attacking displays, bringing plenty of optimism) before things tailed off (hit-and-miss performances exposing some defensive issues).  

He’s still in League One with Blackpool and is back at Portman Road this weekend. C+ 

James Wilson has played every minute of the League One campaign so far, alongside Toto Nsiala. Pictu

James Wilson is close to returning to action

James Wilson – free agent  

Pound for pound, I’d argue Wilson has actually been Lambert’s best signing during his time as Ipswich manager. 

The defender was signed as a stop-gap in the summer of 2019 to help deal with injury problems and quickly proved his worth, despite low expectations. He secured a new contract within a few months of his arrival and has been solid, if not spectacular, and has plenty of qualities which could have served Ipswich well in recent weeks. Town have averaged two points per game with Wilson in the side, with no other player managing a higher number. B- 

Will Norris – loan from Wolves 

Norris was earmarked as first choice when he arrived on the eve of the season and was the most consistent Ipswich keeper in training, without taking that form into games. 

Sadly, despite some very solid games, high profile errors at Lincoln, Wycombe and then at home to Peterborough will be what he’s remembered for. He’s now in the Premier League with Burnley. C- 

Kane Vincent-Young - £500k from Colchester 

Ah, Kane Vincent-Young. The biggest outlay and, from our small nine-game sample size, probably the best player Lambert has signed. 

But he hasn’t played in more than 14 months. That’s certainly not value for money. There are still hopes of a return before the end of the season. C 

Anthony Georgiou pictured during Town's 2-0 home defeat to Rotherham Picture: ROSS HALLS

Anthony Georgiou never made a league start for Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Anthony Georgiou – loan from Tottenham 

The Cyprus international never made a league start for Ipswich during his loan spell, which included a few appearances from the bench which threatened to offer a spark. 

Sadly, when he did start in cup competitions, he didn’t take his chance. D- 

January 2020 

Josh Earl – loan from Preston 

Earl was drafted in from Preston on loan to cover for Toto Nsiala’s move to Bolton on loan but never found a true role in the side. 

He played left-back, left wing-back and as a centre back in both a three and a four. He was steady, nothing more. D 

Summer 2020 

David Cornell – free from Northampton 

Like all Ipswich goalkeepers under Lambert, the Welshman has been unable to hold onto his place in the first-team after eventually working his way into the side following his summer arrival. 

When he’s played he’s been dependable enough without necessarily showing his best form, especially with his feet. He’s now on the bench behind Tomas Holy. C 

Stephen Ward is fouled by Jordan Willis .

Stephen Ward is fouled by Jordan Willis . - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Stephen Ward – free from Stoke  

The Irishman’s grading would have been much higher if this exercise was completed in October, with the veteran bringing an experienced head and calm presence to the Town backline. 

But performances have started to slide of late, with neither he or skipper Luke Chambers able to get forward as they did earlier in the season. He’s out of the side now, with Kenlock impressing at Crewe in his place. 

Oli Hawkins – free from Portsmouth  

The big target man was seen as a ‘different’ option when signed in the summer, offering Ipswich a Plan B when passing football doesn’t work in the final third. We’ve seen flashes of that so far with some good link play and one goal, winning the day against Crewe at Portman Road. 

But he’s out for at least another month with a knee injury. When he returns, he’ll have competition just to make the bench ahead of either Aaron Drinan or Troy Parrott. D 

Mark McGuinness tangles with Mikael Mandron at Crewe at Crewe Alexandra. Picture Pagepix Ltd

Mark McGuinness tangles with Mikael Mandron at Crewe at Crewe Alexandra. Picture Pagepix Ltd - Credit: Pagepix Limited

Mark McGuinness - loan from Arsenal  

The young Ireland international was signed on the back of an impressive display against Town, for Arsenal, in the EFL Trophy. And we’ve seen plenty of his qualities since as he’s shown just why he has such a high reputation. 

But we’ve seen raw edges, too which, at times, have cost his side. He’ll have a good career in the game but it won’t be in Suffolk. C+ 

Keanan Bennetts – loan from Borussia Monchengladbach 

The Gladbach loanee has made 16 Ipswich appearances so far, a sneaky high number, but just four of those have been league starts. 

His last brought a goal and then an injury against Burton which has kept him sidelined since, with the issue coming at a time when he was just about finding his feet after an erratic start. D+ 

The ‘January four’ 

Lambert has added Luke Thomas, Josh Harrop, Troy Parrott and Luke Matheson to the squad during the January window, with only Thomas so far making it onto the field. 

He’s shown flashes of his ability in his three appearances to date but has yet to truly make an impact. 

Harrop could make his debut against Blackpool this weekend, having finished a self-isolation period after testing positive for coronavirus, while Parrott and Matheson could also be involved for the first time. 

Clearly, it’s not fair to grade them at this time, but Lambert will be hoping they can make a real impact. 


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