Chambers and Skuse set to be headline exits on day of departures at Ipswich Town
- Credit: Steve Waller
It’s set to be a day of departures at Ipswich Town as the dust settles on a hugely disappointing season.
The Blues’ finished ninth in League One heading into a summer of significant change, with 20 players out-of-contract and six loanees returning to their parent clubs.
Alan Judge and Stephen Ward have already been released, with manager Paul Cook due to meet with each of his players individually throughout today in order to discuss their futures and relay his decisions on those whose deals expire soon.
The group of out-of-contract players is led by experienced duo Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse, who have been at the club since 2012 and 2013 respectively, making nearly 700 appearances between them.
It’s understood the pair are likely to be the headline departures on a busy day at the club’s training ground, having made what will almost certainly be their final appearances for the club in yesterday’s season-ending 3-1 victory over Fleetwood at Portman Road.
Cook has previously stated Chambers ‘can have a role beyond the summer if he wants it’ but, while not completely off the table, it’s understood that has not come to fruition and he is likely to depart after nine seasons and 396 games. That's a total which has taken him into Ipswich Town's top-10 all-time appearance-makers.
It was notable every Ipswich player headed straight for Chambers at full-time of yesterday's game, while the skipper himself posted 'one more time' alongside an image of a busy home dressing room yesterday.
Both Chambers and Skuse, aged 35, have stated their desire to continue their playing careers and could potentially do that together, just a few miles down the A12 at near-neighbours Colchester United.
Another man who could be heading to the U’s is forward Freddie Sears, another long-serving player whose departure will be confirmed later today. Sears has spent the last six years in Suffolk but looks likely to return to the club from where he came back in 2015.
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Emyr Huws will also depart, having not played for Town since January 9, while there is also a likely exit for striker Aaron Drinan, who had broken into the first-team this season but has drifted out of Cook’s plans.
Newly-crowned player-of-the-year James Wilson, Kayden Jackson, Teddy Bishop, Toto Nsiala and Janoi Donacien all have options in their contracts which would allow the Blues to keep them for a further 12 months. They will all meet with Cook today having previously been given no firm indication whether or not their services will be required beyond this summer.
Donacien is back in Suffolk today having finished the season up on loan at Fleetwood, with Cook yet to see the full-back either train or play for the club since his arrival as boss at the start of March. He too will discover whether he has a future at Ipswich.
It’s likely a significant number of this group will depart, while Gwion Edwards meets with Cook at a time when the club must agree a fresh contract with the Welshman, given he has just played out his option year.
It’s understood there are clubs keen on signing Edwards, meaning Town may not be able to keep hold of him even if they did offer him new terms, with clubs also showing interest in a number of Town’s other out-of-contract players.
Cook has previously referred to himself as ‘Demolition Man’ when discussing how many players will move on this summer while, speaking on Friday, he again said it would be ‘quicker to discuss those who are staying, rather than those moving on’ as he asked about his Monday meetings.
Loanees Troy Parrott, Mark McGuinness, Keanan Bennetts and Josh Harrop will all go back to their parent clubs, with Parrott and McGuinness finishing up the season in Cook’s starting XI and potentially in the conversation for returns next season.
Luke Matheson and Luke Thomas will also see their loan deals officially end, having not been involved at all for some time.
Tristan Nydam, Idris El Mizouni and Ben Morris are all out-of-contract this summer and will be hopeful of another year after suffering serious injuries, while Town are also negotiating fresh terms with Liam Gibbs, who made his league debut for the club this season.
Levi Andoh and Bailey Clements are also in the final weeks of their Town deals, along with Tommy Hughes. All three have played for Town in cup competitions.
Cook will also meet with those players who are under contract for next season and it's possible some may be told they are free to find new clubs this summer.
Once Cook has overseen what is likely to be a significant number of exits, the Town boss and incoming chief executive Mark Ashton will begin what is likely to be a busy summer of recruitment as the Blues gear up for a third attempt at League One promotion under new ownership.
Ipswich Town contracts
McGuinness, Bennetts, Harrop, Thomas, Parrott, Matheson
Chambers, Skuse*, Wilson*, Sears*, Jackson*, Huws*, Bishop*, Nsiala*, Edwards, Donacien*, Drinan, Nydam*, El Mizouni*, Morris*, Clements*, Gibbs*, Andoh*, Hughes*
Downes*, Norwood*, Lankester*, Kenlock*, Ndaba*, Holy, Nolan, Cornell*, Hawkins*, McGavin*, Crowe*, Smith*, Simpson*, Crane*, Chirewa*
*known to have a 12-month contract option