The business Ipswich Town could still do before the January transfer window closes
- Credit: Steve Waller
There are just a few hours left for Ipswich Town to do business during the January transfer window. Andy Warren looks at the potential ins and outs prior to the deadline.
How long’s left?
The January transfer window closes on Monday night at 11pm.
General manager Lee O’Neill spoke at the beginning of the window of a desire to add creative players to their squad early in January.
It didn’t quite work out that way, with Luke Thomas and Josh Harrop arriving on January 19 and 20 respectively, but both players had been identified and wheels put in motion prior to the window opening. The delays came from their parent clubs, along with a thorough medical for Harrop relating to previous injury concerns.
Thomas has shown promise during his two appearances to date, while Harrop won’t be available until next weekend’s game with Blackpool after testing positive for Covid-19.
In terms of exits, Janoi Donacien’s loan departure for Fleetwood is perhaps a surprise one, given he leaves no fit cover for 35-year-old skipper Luke Chambers at right-back. He’s started brilliantly for the Cod Army, impressing in both displays to date and helping keep two clean sheets.
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He was a man in demand, too, with Ipswich receiving interest from nearly a dozen clubs for the 27-year-old and rejecting a permanent offer in the region of £50,000 from Plymouth.
Corrie Ndaba and Adam Przybek have also left on loan, joining Ayr United and Chesterfield respectively, while Idris El Mizouni joined Grimsby on Friday.
When asked last week whether there had been offers for any other Ipswich players, assistant manager Stuart Taylor said: “Not anything that we’ll want to listen to.”
What’s left on the shopping list?
Manager Paul Lambert is understood to have identified a need for a striker prior to this window and that need has been amplified heading into the final days of January.
Kayden Jackson is suspended for three games following his red card on Tuesday night, while Oli Hawkins is out for another five weeks at least after surgery on his knee. James Norwood trained on Monday in a bid to prove fitness for the Sunderland game but has had ongoing hamstring issues for several months now.
That leaves Aaron Drinan and Freddie Sears as recognised strikers, with Lambert and his recruitment team still wanting to add to the pool.
The Town boss admitted after Tuesday night’s loss to Sunderland that the only option available under the salary cap restrictions (more on that in a minute) is a ‘young one’, with Town understood to be actively working on potential moves for players aged 21 or younger, in the hope of doing a deal before Monday’s deadline passes.
Nottingham Forest youngster Will Swan is a possibility there.
Why the cap restricts things
In an ideal world, Ipswich would look to go out and recruit an experienced striker with a history of scoring goals in League One.
But that simply isn’t possible under the cap, given how close Ipswich are riding to it.
Regulations say a club can spend a total of £2.5million in annual wages over a squad of 22 senior outfield players (aged under 21 on January 1, 2020), with Ipswich currently having 21 seniors but with their wages understood to be right up against the cap’s ceiling. There is little to no room for manoeuvre.
Contracts signed prior to the introduction of the cap last summer are counted at the League One average salary of £113,000 pa (£2,173 pw), even though many of the Town players are on considerably more. Summer signings David Cornell, Oli Hawkins and Stephen Ward, as well as new loanee Josh Harrop, are on their true wages, though, given they arrived after the cap had been introduced. It’s these numbers which have taken Ipswich right up to the cap ceiling and left them unable to use their final senior slot without a departure.
The only ways for Ipswich to make space for a senior player would be to allow another aged over 21 to leave, should an offer come in, or simply leave one out of their 22-man squad. That would mean they could train but would be unable to play in League One games. Had Ipswich still been in a cup competition, they could have played in those.
Senior players (21 or over at start of 2020): Cornell, Holy, Vincent-Young, Chambers, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Wilson, Ward, Kenlock, Skuse, Nolan, Huws, Bishop, Judge, Harrop, Edwards, Sears, Norwood, Jackson, Hawkins, Drinan (21/22).
Young players currently exempt from the salary cap: McGuinness, Ndaba, Dozzell, Downes, McGavin, Gibbs, Lankester, El Mizouni, Bennetts, Dobra, Simpson.
Any other business?
It feels like we’ve entered every deadline day of Lambert’s reign expecting loan departures for young players to be at the top of the agenda.
It’s likely to be the same again this time around, with the Blues understood to have sent a circular around the EFL and National League to make a number of their young players available.
Following El Mizouni's departure, Armando Dobra looks the most likely to be at the top of that list given he has not featured in any of Town’s last four games and is now behind Luke Thomas in the pecking order.
Others who could head out are midfielder Brett McGavin, who has proved himself a capable League One performer this season but now finding himself behind a queue of players now Town’s injury worries are easing.
Below them, the likes of Harry Wright, Barry Cotter and Tyreece Simpson could potentially be available.