New contracts must surely be in the offing for Ipswich Town defensive duo Tommy Smith and Carlos Edwards

SIGN them up!

Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell has been calling upon his players to prove that they do not need replacing in the summer.

And defensive duo Tommy Smith and Carlos Edwards – both out of contract in the summer and yet to be offered new deals – have surely now done enough to ensure at least another season at Portman Road with just 12 games to go.

Centre-back Smith has played a major part in Town’s recent revival, putting his poor start to the season firmly behind him with a string of commanding displays.

Meanwhile, Edwards will surely be a front-runner for the Blues’ ‘Player of the Season’ award following yet another injury-free campaign which has seen him constantly improve as a converted right-back.


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Jewell is keen to get the balance right between youth and experience ahead of next season. At 21 years old Smith is only going to get better, while the experienced Edwards – willing to take a pay-cut at 33 – has shown his leadership qualities during a spell as captain of late.

The Blues boss has always said that he wants to build a nucleus of a side that he need only tinker with each summer.

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And a return of 16 points from a possible 21 – including impressive displays against promotion-chasing sides Southampton, West Ham and Cardiff – gives him the perfect excuse not to completely overhaul his current squad.

With top-class defenders hard to come by at present, Jewell may well decide to stick rather than twist when it comes to Smith and Edwards.

Meanwhile, the situation surrounding soon-to-be out-of-contract duo Grant Leadbitter and Jason Scotland remains a little more grey. The former has fought his way back into the side for the last two games, while the latter – still three league starts short of automatically triggering another year on the same money – came off the bench to score the equaliser at Southampton on Tuesday night.

Two of the higher earners at the club, Jewell – who has been told by chief executive Simon Clegg that he will have to cut the wage bill – may hold fire on making a decision on those two for now.

Other players set to be out-of-contract in the summer include: Richard Wright, Lee Bowyer, Ibrahima Sonko and Mark Kennedy, with the latter set to retire and take on a full-time coaching role.

Youngsters Josh Carson, Luke Hyam and Ronan Murray have already been awarded new deals in the second half of the season, while Alex McCarthy (Reading) and Daryl Murphy (Celtic) are only on loan.

– What do you think? Vote on the accompanying polls and post your comments below. Alternatively, e-mail: sport@eadt.co.uk or join the debate on Twitter by following @Stuart_Watson.

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