Where Ipswich Town are at with ins and outs during the January transfer window
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert wants to give his squad 'a little help' during the January transfer window to aid their promotion bid. Andy Warren looks at the state of play at Portman Road.
Town have once again entered this transfer window hoping to do early business. Indeed, there was optimism there could even have been deals to announce as soon as January dawned.
But it hasn’t worked out like that. It’s January 19 and Town are still looking to add to a squad which manager Paul Lambert has again stated ‘needs a bit of help’. There’s a sense frustration has been growing behind the scenes, but that could be eased in the coming hours.
General manager Lee O’Neill has stated publicly a desire to add creativity to the Ipswich ranks this month, with attacking midfield and wide areas thought to be the major focus.
The newly-introduced League One salary cap is undoubtedly an extra complication, with Town right up against the £2.5million salary limit. They do have an open squad place, with 21 out of 22 slots for senior players (aged 21 or over on January 1, 2020), but so little is their breathing room against the wage limit that a senior player would need to be left out in order to accommodate any incoming ‘over-age’ player.
That could mean either allowing a player to leave the club or, simply, leaving them out of the squad meaning they would train but be unable to play games.
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The Preston attacker is likely to become Ipswich’s first signing of the January window, with a loan move likely being announced later today after he was at the club yesterday to tie up his move.
He’s been earmarked to play as a No.10 and can also play in wide areas, bringing the aforementioned creativity to a Town side who have struggled to make chances or score goals.
Harrop, a former Manchester United youth, can be deadly from set-pieces and can score from outside the box, while bringing others into play.
If there’s one knock, it’s centred around a lack consistency and drifting in-and-out of games.
Hopefully he can produce for Town in League One.
A lightning quick winger is what manager Lambert is understood to want this month, with Thomas at the top of that list.
In an ideal world, Town would have liked this one done earlier in the window but, as time’s gone on, it’s felt less likely. Town's interest certainly remains, though.
Tykes boss Valerian Ismael started the January window discussing the winger’s desire to play regular football and suggested a loan would be the best move for him, with Ipswich pipping ahead of Sunderland in the race for his signature.
Ismael, the former Bayern Munich defender, has backtracked a little in recent days, though, hinting he may opt to keep Thomas around. There’s a feeling he would only allow the 21-year-old to depart if a replacement is found.
Things can happen quickly and this move is one which shouldn't be written off in the final two weeks of what is a quiet window.
If a move for Thomas doesn’t happen, expect Town to go after another wide player between now and the window closing.
The most-likely senior player to leave the club this month is Janoi Donacien, with the Blues rejecting a permanent offer from Plymouth in recent days.
The Blues would prefer a loan departure for the versatile defender, even though he’s not played a single minute of league football this season and is some distance from Lambert’s thinking.
That’s tied into the fact that, while Donacien’s contract is up this summer and would appear to be a candidate for release, the club hold a one-year extension offer on a player owner Marcus Evans spent £750,000 on just two years ago.
While Plymouth are unlikely to want a loan move, Accrington Stanley would welcome their former player back with open arms and a return to the Wham Stadium temporarily is certainly likely.
The forward has had interest from Colchester United this month but U’s manager Steve Ball recently admitted it’s unlikely they will be able to complete a move for their former player during January.
And that’s how it’s likely to remain for the rest of the month, with Sears back fit again and likely to play a part as the Blues look to get themselves firmly back into the promotion race.
He’s out of contract at the end of the season and, depending on whether or not his Town deal is renewed, you can certainly see the Essex club’s interest appeal to Sears if he’s looking for a new club.
He’s obviously a former Colchester player, still lives in the Town and would link-up with former team-mates Tommy Smith and Dean Gerken.
But, for now, his aim will be to try and take Town back to the Championship and extend his stay at a club he joined in 2015.
Another Ipswich player linked elsewhere this month is Elkan Baggott, who is on the radar of clubs in the Premier League including Leeds and West Ham.
He’s a second-year scholar but has an agreement in place for a third year, with Town working to try and tie him down to a professional contract in the coming weeks. They’re confident of doing that.
Baggott made his professional debut against Gillingham in the EFL Trophy earlier this season and looked calm and composed throughout, which certainly helped to shine a light on his progress at a time when he’s also broken into the Indonesia set-up.
It’s certainly possible the Blues may look to get some of their younger players out on loan before the window closes.
Chief among them are likely to be Armando Dobra and Idris El Mizouni, especially given the club are looking to add senior players in their positions before the end of the month.
In Dobra’s case, Lambert would have liked him to have joined Crawley in October and his position is likely to be similar now he’s dropped out of the first-team following a run of starts.
El Mizouni is back at Ipswich after spending the first half of the season at Cambridge, where he featured intermittently. He’s not been in either Town squad since and scored the winner for the Under 23s at Millwall yesterday.
He could well go out on loan again.
Others who could benefit from senior football are Barry Cotter and Harry Wright, who have returned from Chelmsford and Swedish side GAIS respectively, as well as the likes of Tyreece Simpson, Liam Gibbs and maybe even Brett McGavin.