Ipswich Town squad is taking shape ahead of 2017/18, but two or three more additions would be nice
Six in, 10 out has been the sum of Ipswich Town’s business this summer. STUART WATSON assesses the squad with less than three weeks until the big kick-off.
Bartosz Bialkowski, Dean Gerken
The Blues knocked back interest in Bialkowski in January and were braced for bids, but they haven’t transpired. Big-spending Wolves have been linked and may yet make a move, while newly-relegated Sunderland and Middlesborough are both in the hunt for a keeper, but there’s a sense behind the scenes at Portman Road that Town’s two-times Supporters’ Player of the Year is going nowhere.
Dominic Iorfa, Jordan Spence
Josh Emmanuel is still very raw and will benefit from regular game-time in League One with Rotherham, while Iorfa – on a season-long loan from Wolves – has almost 100 Championship appearances to his name.
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Right-back has been a troublesome position for Ipswich for many years. Carlos Edwards and Luke Chambers were round pegs in a square hole for different reasons. Finally Town have two athletic, well-rounded right-backs suited for the modern game.
Luke Chambers, Adam Webster, Tommy Smith
It’s the start of a new era following Christophe Berra’s departure to Hearts at the end of his contract.
Webster’s return from a long-term ankle injury is a major boost. The 22-year-old will add a different dimension to Town’s play with his ability on the ball.
Skipper Chambers looked far more comfortable in his preferred central role in the second half of last season, while Tommy Smith, who can provide some left-footed balance, is another consistent Championship performer.
Is another body needed for cover? Iorfa and Jonas Knudsen can move inside if injuries/suspensions hit. Steven Taylor may yet be handed a contract if he can prove his fitness in pre-season.
Jonas Knudsen, Myles Kenlock
Kenlock, 20, looks a hot prospect and will be hoping to kick on after making 16 starts last season. He’s better going forwards than Knudsen and will hopefully be given the nod in the games where the onus is on Town to get on the front foot.
Knudsen is the better defender though and will not be giving up his place without a fight. You sense McCarthy sees him as the more reliable option still.
Grant Ward, Bersant Celina, Danny Rowe
Ward enjoyed a decent debut campaign at Portman Road in difficult circumstances, scoring six goals and playing in a variety of roles. It’s easy to forget that the former Tottenham man is still only 22.
Kosovan international Celina, 20, is a tricky winger who loves to cut inside from the left on his stronger right foot. The Manchester City man has big boots to fill following the departure of Tom Lawrence, but his exciting highlights reel suggests he can get fans off their seats.
Don’t forget about Rowe. The 25-year-old was signed from non-league Macclesfield for a not insignificant fee of £100k back in January and has caught the eye whenever pulling on a Blues shirt. He’s direct, skilful and can whip in a cross.
If we’re being greedy, one more addition – ideally a right-sided specialist – would be nice. West Brom teenager Jonathan Leko has been linked with a loan move.
Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi, Teddy Bishop, Luke Hyam, Andre Dozzell
Town desperately need some more goals, assists and forward thrust from central midfield. Huws (Cardiff, £1m) and Adeyemi (Cardiff, free) will hopefully address that long-standing problem. If McCarthy does go 4-4-2, then it will be interesting to see if defensive-shield Skuse is still a nailed-on starter.
Can Bishop and Hyam stay fit? Will England U19 talent Dozzell get more game-time? McCarthy has options.
Joe Garner, Freddie Sears, David McGoldrick
Garner (Rangers, £750k) will add some much-needed aggression and physical presence to Town’s attack, but his goal record at Championship value is questionable. McGoldrick is a joy to watch when fully fit, but it always feels like another injury setback is just around the corner. Can Sears find his goalscoring boots again if allowed to play on the last shoulder once more?
A proven goalscorer (and they don’t come cheap) is undoubtedly the missing piece.