'We're looking to add some creativity' - Town chief outlines transfer plans

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans (centre), manager Paul Lambert (left) and general manager of footbal

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans (centre), manager Paul Lambert (left) and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill are looking to add to the squad in January. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town's general manager of football operations, Lee O'Neill, says the main focus of this January transfer window is to add some creativity to the squad.

Only five teams in League One have scored fewer goals than Town so far this season (23). Paul Lambert's men are seventh in the standings, but ranked 14th in the 'Expected Goals' table (worked out on the quality of chances created).

“We haven’t really scored enough goals and that’s not just down to the forward players," said O'Neill. "So we’re looking at the creative side of things. 

"If everyone was fit then maybe we wouldn't be looking to do as much business as we are, but we've got several players working their way back from injuries, the schedule ahead is going to be hectic and we’re going to need a squad that is strong enough and deep enough to deal with that.

"We want to do our business early and we want players that are ready to hit the ground running.

“We learnt from the January of 2019 when we were trying to stay in the Championship and brought quite a few loans. It took us near on two months to get those players fully fit and by then it was too late.

“Yes there might be some good players available who are coming back from injury but we would have to get them up to speed again along with our own players coming back from injuries. 

“It’s about trying to bring in players that are going to improve the squad, not just bringing in players for the sake of it."

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Town are currently at the very upper end of the £2.5m annual salary cap imposed on League One clubs this year. It means that if they want to bring in any 'senior' players (those who were 21 or over at the start of 2020) then they will have to either move on a current 'senior' player or simply leave them out of the declared 22-man 'senior' squad come the end of the month.

It's understood that Janoi Donacien, yet to make a league appearance this season, has been made available for loan

“The January window is always difficult and this one will be even more so given with the salary cap restrictions in place," said O'Neill.

“We talked about adding some experienced players who have been in this situation before, going for promotion with a relatively big club like us, but the cap prevents us going out and spending the sort of money that would be required to get those sort of players. 

“That’s not an excuse, that’s not Marcus (Evans) not wanting to invest, it’s just fact. 

“It’s incredibly difficult. We’re at 21 of the 22 senior squad that we can have and we’re at the cap maximum. We’ve got to be creative with how we’re going to do things and work with other clubs to see how they are going to be creative to make it work with the budgets we all have. 

"Everything is on the table. It could become like American football with everyone trading to get the players they want. It may well be that one club is after a forward player, another is after a goalkeeper and you can work something out between you. That’s how I see this window possibly working out. "

Signing players who were under 21 at the start of last year would enable Ipswich to get around the salary cap, but O'Neill is wary of adding players with raw potential to a squad already packed with academy graduates and young loanees.

"A player coming in on their first loan is a risk," he said. "And we’ve already got a couple of them in Keanan (Bennetts) and Mark (McGuinness), who have been getting better by the week.

“We've got to strike the right balance."

Town are understood to be interested in out-of-favour Barnsley winger Luke Thomas.


'SENIOR' PLAYERS (21 or over at start of 2020): Cornell, Holy, Vincent-Young, Donacien, Chambers, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Wilson, Ward, Kenlock, Skuse, Nolan, Huws, Bishop, Judge, Edwards, Sears, Norwood, Jackson, Hawkins, Drinan (21/22).

YOUTH CURRENTLY EXEMPT FROM SALARY CAP: McGuinness, Ndaba, Dozzell, Downes, McGavin, Gibbs, Lankester, El Mizouni, Bennetts, Dobra, Simspon.

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