Who remains on Paul Jewell’s goalkeeping radar?
PAUL Jewell was dealt a sucker punch by former Manchester United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak’s decision to join divisional rivals Brighton on Tuesday night.
Now the Blues boss, who had identified the 30-year-old as his top goalkeeping target, must quickly look again at solving arguably his biggest problem for the forthcoming season. The likely alternatives include:
Teams: Chivas (USA), Aston Villa, Hull (loan)
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Widely regarded as next on Jewell’s list after Kuszczak, though the identity of any Town targets continues – quite rightly – to be a closely-guarded secret. The US keeper, said to have been targeted for a loan deal by Jewell last season, quit Aston Villa in May to try and pursue first team football elsewhere after playing second-fiddle to Brad Friedel and then Shay Given. But reports emanating from Hull suggest Jewell might again have company as he looks to nail down a new number one.
Teams: Watford, Bradford (loan)
The man many Town fans want to see sign. Helped by the fact that he is one the most experienced among potential targets and the not-too-small-matter of being an actual Ipswich fan. Throw in England Under-21 caps and that he is said to be unhappy with his situation at Vicarage Road after playing second-fiddle to, ironically, Kuszczak, and Loach becomes a highly attractive proposition. Doubts remain, however, about his ability after being benched at Watford.
Teams: Birmingham, Nottingham Forest (loan), Millwall (loan), Coventry (loan)
Doyle has been linked with Ipswich for the last few months although I understand it remains merely speculation at this stage. Birmingham’s goalkeeping situation is a little cloudy at present with Ben Foster in talks with West Brom and highly-rated Jack Butland linked elsewhere after his sudden call-up to England’s Euro 2012 squad. Doyle might be tempted to sit tight until the situation clears up, but he won’t want to warm the bench too much longer after little over 60 starts.
Teams: Bury, Sheffield United, QPR
The vastly-experienced Kenny was sounded out by Jewell as a potential new keeper next season before looking even-money to join former boss Neil Warnock’s revolution at Leeds United. That still seems his most likely destination, but don’t rule out Jewell making a last-ditch bid to usurp that deal. Wherever he ends up, expect him to have a good season back in the second tier of English football.
Teams: Manchester United, Swindon (loan), QPR (loan), Cardiff
Like with Guzan, Heaton opted to walk away from his club in search of regular first-team football. The former Manchester United trainee excelled for Cardiff on the road to Wembley and the Carling Cup final but the 26-year-old could not push past David Marshall and cut a frustrated figure at the Bluebirds. In his place, Malky Mackay has, ironically, gone for former Peterborough keeper Joe Lewis, another Jewell considered for Ipswich.
Teams: Valenica (trainee), Gillingham
Something of an unknown quantity for many Town fans but the Valencia trainee is one of the more highly-rated custodians in the lower leagues. Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler has admitted his keeper has been watched by a number of scouts, but it would be a risk for Jewell to plump for an inexperienced 20-year-old as his number one. I would still expect the Town boss to go for another keeper even if he looked to sign ‘Gazza’.
The loan option
Town fans might sneer at the prospect of another loan keeper becoming number one after the various failings of the David Stockdale and Alex McCarthy deals. But the longer it goes on, and the shorter Jewell’s list becomes, the Town boss might see this as a viable option. You would hope he would insist on no 24-hour recall clause after last season’s Stockdale debacle, but he could look to grab a Premier League reserve keeper of some repute. Manchester United’s Ben Amos has been linked while Stockdale himself told the EADT this month that he would be open to a return if he failed to become Fulham number one.