Positives, negatives and plenty still to do - what we've learned from Town's pre-season
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town have completed their pre-season programme with all sights set on competitive action. Andy Warren takes a look at what we've learned from the Blues' summer friendlies.
Work in progress
Paul Cook’s words following Saturday’s loss to Millwall summed things up nicely – Ipswich Town are a work in progress.
An element of patience is going to be needed as this Town side continues to be built, with Championship side Millwall highlighting a few areas for concern and punctuating a few statements with question marks.
There have been plenty of positives during pre-season, with the vast majority of Town’s new signings showing glimpses of what they’re all about. We’ve seen enough of them playing elsewhere and against the Blues to know Town have acquired good players.
But what we haven’t seen, and probably shouldn’t have expected to see at this stage, was them fit together perfectly.
There are questions to answer, as there always are at this time of the year.
- 1 A14 blocked after three vehicle crash
- 2 Bishop on his 'brutal, almost disrespectful' Ipswich exit, not fitting into Cook's system and why he's 'absolutely loving' life at Lincoln
- 3 Your favourite pub, restaurant, café and hotel in Suffolk revealed
- 4 Matchday Live: Bonne thumps Town ahead at Lincoln
- 5 Yellow weather warning for heavy rain issued for parts of Suffolk
- 6 Two 'cowardly bullies' sentenced for Christmas attack at Center Parcs
- 7 7 of Suffolk's prettiest streets
- 8 Major Lowestoft road partially closed due to police incident
- 9 Soul-searching, an unleashing and the enemy within - Town travel to Lincoln in search of a win
- 10 Grieving Cook determined to fill Town fans with joy
Will George Edmundson start on the opening day, despite not playing a single minute for Town in pre-season?
Will Scott Fraser come back into the team after missing Millwall with a knock? And will he get a chance in his favoured No.10 role?
Or will Cook continue with two central strikers, despite being keen to play his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation?
There are plenty more unknowns, too. We always want all of the answers by the time the big kick-off comes around but it never really turns out that way.
But there’s no need to panic, either.
Every summer since Town’s drubbing at Charlton, in their final warm-up game for 2017/18, we discuss how little pre-season really means. Superb summers are followed by slow starts, while poor pre-seasons can lead to a rapid jump from the blocks.
Ipswich Town are a work in progress, but it’s heading in the right direction.
All of Ipswich Town’s summer signings have had their moments, but when it comes to consistency, the base of midfield is worthy of discussion.
Lee Evans has missed time with a groin problem this summer but returned well in the Millwall loss, dictating play, keeping the ball and using it well. He’s about as sure a thing as you’re likely to get when it comes to League One signings, given how consistently he has performed in this league and the one above.
His partner in midfield is a man who is a bit more of an open book but arrives with plenty of potential and some envious eyes.
Rekeem Harper has started well in Ipswich blue (and white & black), showing a brilliant touch, clever feet and an ability to work his way out of trouble to then move his side up the pitch.
Town appear to have two all-round midfielders playing in Cook’s engine room and the hope must be they hit the ground running as a pair when the competitive action begins.
Back for good?
Town were careful with wing-back Kane Vincent-Young during the early days of pre-season, as the former Colchester man recovered from surgery on the shoulder he damaged towards the end of last season.
But he’s started the matches against Palace, Colchester and Millwall and has looked his old self, working his way up and down the right flank and developing the beginnings of a partnership with Welsh winger Wes Burns.
Vincent-Young was missed last season, as former captain Luke Chambers filled in at right-back, and provides the attacking threat Cook craves from the full-back position.
The hope must be that a full pre-season will have prepared him fully for the campaign ahead, with the 25-year-old now looking to make up for lost time.
Ipswich Town have not punched their weight from set-pieces for a long time.
Luke Garbutt lit the fire briefly at the start of the 2019/20 season but that flame soon flickered away as the Everton loanee’s delivery dried up.
In general, Paul Lambert’s Ipswich Town reign saw a revolving door of set-piece takers with little product, with the aforementioned Chambers discussed as a potential taker at one point. Sadly, we never got to see it.
But this crop of Ipswich players looks to have options within it, with Evans and Burns both curling in excellent free-kick goals and both also putting in decent deliveries from the corner flags.
Joe Pigott likes to take free-kicks, too, while Fraser scored all nine of his penalties for MK Dons last season. Evans fancies those as well.
What pre-season has also highlighted is that more signings are needed.
Cook’s move to dispose of almost all of last season’s squad has meant the most hectic of recruitment drives is necessary and there are still holes to fill.
Evans’ injury highlighted that as teenager Cameron Humphreys was forced into starting action. The youngster performed well and advanced his career this summer, for sure, but Town wouldn’t really want to be in a position where he’s needed to start League One games.
That means another central midfielder is on the agenda, while the six goals conceded in the Colchester and Millwall matches showed why Edmundson has been recruited. One more might be needed there, too.
Another left-back is needed to support and challenge Matt Penney while, despite the arrival of Conor Chaplin, another winger is on the shopping list.
There’s still a month to go before the transfer window closes, with the Ipswich squad likely to look a little different again by the time business is done.