Town face loss of key players - 19 out of contract next June

IPSWICH TOWN: Twenty three members of Roy Keane’s first-team squad have their Portman Road futures on the line.

Nineteen have contracts that end next June and four are on loan deals, and Keane could soon find that a huge hole will be appearing in his squad.

The manager is optimistic that the players he consider key to his plans to take the club forward will agree to sign new deals with discussions currently taking place.

But if they feel reluctant to confirm their continued allegiance to the Blues they could be leaving within two months.

The likes of skipper David Norris, experienced defenders Gareth McAuley and Damien Delaney and Trinidad international midfielder Carlos Edwards could all walk away from Town as free agents in the summer.

So if Ipswich want to recoup any cash for these proven Championship performers if they are unable to commit themselves to another Blues contract they need to part company during the January transfer window.

All four are hedging their bets at the moment although displaying no noticeable signs of wanting away.

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They will want confirmation of the managerial situation at Portman Road before making up their minds and some delicate discussions may need to take place.

Only seven of the squad that travelled to Hull on Saturday have Ipswich deals that take them into 2011/12 and of these young striker Connor Wickham could well be on the move at the beginning of next year if Liverpool as expected come in with a �5million bid while midfielder Grant Leadbitter has plenty of admirers among rival Championship clubs.

On the back of three consecutive defeats and a dramatic slide down the table, pressure is building on Keane with his popularity rating among Town fans at an all-time low.

Recent displays have given cause for precious little optimism that this season will prove more meaningful than the nondescript half dozen or so that have preceded it.

So the prospect of having the first team squad decimated is not good news for supporters as they prepare rather apprehensively for Sunday’s trip to arch rivals Norwich City.

Defeat at Carrow Road would not affect owner Marcus Evans’ appreciation of his high profile manager as much as it would hard line Town fans, who would be left absolutely gutted.

Much will be conveyed about how Keane is viewed in the dressing room by the number of experienced players soon to be out of contract who opt to extend their stay.

Money – and length of deal offered - will come into the equation of course and Town fans will be left holding their breath while discussions take place.

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