'We're keeping about 10% of the roster' - Johnson on Ipswich squad overhaul
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town co-owner Brett Johnson has said that manager Paul Cook ultimately intends to 'keep about 10%' of last season's squad.
Cook replaced Paul Lambert in the Portman Road hot-seat in March, but was unable to ignite a late promotion push as the Blues limped to a ninth place finish in League One.
Town's boss did not mince his words during the run-in, questioning his players' fitness, confidence and character.
Eight senior players were quickly released, including long-serving skipper Luke Chambers, with the EADT and Ipswich Star then breaking the news that Cook had informed virtually every remaining player in his squad that they were free to find new clubs over the summer.
Goalkeeper David Cornell had his contract terminated by mutual consent last week, Gwion Edwards turned down a new deal to sign for League One rivals Wigan, while midfielder Andre Dozzell joined Championship club QPR in a £1m deal on Tuesday.
With six loanees also having returned to their parent clubs, that brings the number of first team players out the door since early May up to 17. Between them, they contributed to more than half of Town's league starts last season (54%).
"We’re making wholesale changes," said Johnson, speaking to The Athletic. "We had long calls with Paul and we have a lot of faith in him.
“Paul showed up and there were something like 43 players on the extended roster; I think we’re keeping about 10 per cent of them. The question is how quickly you can bring in so much talent and get it to click.
“What we all want to do is take a sober approach to how quickly the turnaround starts to happen.
“You need a little time to gel and in a lot of environments, you’re not given a lot of time. We have to be pragmatic relative to the fact of how competitive the league is when you’re starting with a base that needs to be completely overhauled.”
So far, the Blues have signed two players - right-sided specialist Wes Burns and midfielder Lee Evans arriving from Fleetwood and Wigan respectively - while a £500k deal for West Brom midfielder Rekeem Harper is close to being announced.
With the players set to return for pre-season training next Saturday, new chief executive Mark Ashton has said the club are currently 'in for three, four or five players'.
Johnson continued: “In these early days, I’m beyond encouraged relative to the quality and calibre of talent that we’ve already started to sign and a bunch of talent that’s sitting in the wings.
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“While there are some phenomenal clubs that we’re competing against, I also think given the dislocation that’s been happening in the global sport, there are a lot of clubs that are probably suffering right now.
“I think we’re well positioned to make sure that we can bounce out of this whole surreal period, in a very strong position."
SENIOR SIGNINGS (2)
Lee Evans (Wigan, free), Wes Burns (Fleetwood, undisc).
SENIOR EXITS (17)
Released: Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Freddie Sears (all joined Colchester), James Wilson (joined Plymouth), Stephen Ward, Emyr Huws, Tristan Nydam, Alan Judge.
Loans expired: Mark McGuinness, Luke Matheson, Josh Harrop, Keanan Bennetts, Luke Thomas, Troy Parrott.
Contract terminated: David Cornell.
Contract rejected: Gwion Edwards (joined Wigan).
Sold: Andre Dozzell (QPR, £1m).
FIRST TEAM SQUAD (20)
Holy; Vincent-Young, Donacien; Woolfenden, Nsiala, Ndaba; Kenlock; Evans, Downes, Nolan, McGavin; Burns, Dobra, Lankester; Bishop, El Mizouni; Norwood, Jackson, Drinan, Hawkins.
NEW YOUNG PROS (9)
Antoni Bort, Albie Armin, Brooklyn Kabongolo, Alfie Cutbush, Cameron Humphreys, Fraser Alexander, Harley Curtis, Callum Page, Ola Bello.
YOUNG PRO EXITS (6)
Released: Harry Wright (joined Fleetwood), Adam Przybek, Allan Viral, Zak Brown, Kai Brown, Ben Folami.
PRO UNDER-23s (21)
White, Bort; Armin, Crowe; Baggott, Andoh, Kabongolo; Clements, Smith; Gibbs (contract talks), Alexander, Chirewa, Cutbush, Humphreys, Hughes; Page, Curtis, Crane; Morris, Simpson, Bello.