Michael Kightly to Kyle Lafferty – eight free agents Ipswich Town could turn to this summer

Michael Kightly has been released by Burnley. Photo: PA

Michael Kightly has been released by Burnley. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has largely been restricted to signing free agents during his four-and-a-half years at the club. Here are a few released players he might look at this summer.

Burnley's Michael Kightly made his name at Wolves under Mick McCarthy's management. Photo: PA

Burnley's Michael Kightly made his name at Wolves under Mick McCarthy's management. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Michael Kightly

Position: Winger

Age: 31

Is a reunion with Mick McCarthy on the cards? The Blues boss plucked Kightly from non-league Grays Athletic and turned him into a Premier League player during their five years working together at Wolves.


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He’s twice helped Burnley to Championship promotion and was a Town target last summer, but a financial deal could not be reached. In the end he joined Burton Albion on loan for the second half of the campaign and played a key role as Nigel Clough’s men beat the odds to retain their Championship status.

Insists an ‘injury prone’ tag is unfair and has pointed out that his last long-term knee problem was back in 2011. Since then he has played at least 20 games a season and is still only 31 years old.

Town need another winger following the end of Tom Lawrence’s loan from Leicester City. Kightly may not fit the bill of a young player to develop for the future, but he appears hungry as ever and would add some experience and assists.

Karl Henry, released by Queens Park Rangers, was a Mccarthy stalwart at Wolves. Photo: PA

Karl Henry, released by Queens Park Rangers, was a Mccarthy stalwart at Wolves. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

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Karl Henry

Position: Centre-midfield

Age: 34

Another firm favourite under McCarthy at Molineux who is now without a club following his release by QPR.

The combative midfielder has been an unpopular figure among Hoops fans over the last three years. Chris Ramsey was quick to tell critics of the ‘unseen work’ that Henry does, while Ian Holloway was left shocked at the boos Henry faced when coming on as a sub in December last year.

Sound familiar? McCarthy has launched the same defence of both Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas in recent times. It’s not that Town fans don’t see the need for a midfield enforcer or protector though, they’ve just become frustrated at the constant use of two of them.

Signing Henry as a Douglas replacement would go down as well as a fart in a lift, but, as he keeps telling us, McCarthy cares not about popular opinion.

Bristol City's Mark Little celebrates victory after the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final. Photo: PA

Bristol City's Mark Little celebrates victory after the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Mark Little

Position: Right-back

Age: 28

The former England Under-19 international never made the grade under McCarthy at Wolves, but has gone on to help both Peterborough and Bristol City to League One promotion since then and been a Championship regular over the past two campaigns.

Little – who was part of the Robins team which won the second-tier title and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2015 – kept Sunderland loanee and Welsh international Adam Matthews out of the team for most of the season just gone.

Would provide some experienced competition for young Josh Emmanuel now that Luke Chambers is back to playing in his preferred role of centre-half.

An alternative option to Jordan Spence.

Josh Scowen has rejected a new deal at Barnsley. Photo: PA

Josh Scowen has rejected a new deal at Barnsley. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Josh Scowen

Position: Centre-midfield / right-back

Age: 24

Caught the eye in League Two with Wycombe, made a £240k switch to Barnsley in January 2015 and has played a key role in the Tykes’ promotion to and subsequent success in the Championship.

Combative and versatile, he played centrally, wide and even at full-back in the season just gone. McCarthy does love a player who gets stuck in and can fill several slots.

Like Norwich-bound Marley Watkins, Scowen has turned down a new deal at Oakwell and is set to follow the likes of Conor Hourihane, Sam Winnall and James Bree out the door. Having turned 24, there would be no compensation due for him either.

Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday were linked back in January.

Kyle Lafferty, a target of Ipswich Town. Picture: PA

Kyle Lafferty, a target of Ipswich Town. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Kyle Lafferty

Position: Striker

Age: 29

Would Town really pick up a Norwich cast-off? If they want a Daryl Murphy replacement on the cheap, then the 6ft 4in Northern Ireland international – who fired his nation to Euro 2016 – could be their man.

Having made his name at Burnley, Lafferty made a £3m switch to Rangers and won three SPL titles before departing under a cloud when the Scottish giants hit financial turmoil. There were spells at Sion (Switzerland) and Palermo (Italy), before the Canaries made him their No.9. His three years at Carrow Road have not worked out though and he departs having scored four goals in just 14 starts and 25 substitute appearances.

“I was excited to join Norwich but things didn’t go the way I had hoped,” he said. “I won’t be rushing into anything, I’ll take my time and pick the right club for me. First and foremost I want to play football.”

A big personality who has had run-ins with previous managers and club presidents, McCarthy may take this into the equation. It didn’t stop the Blues putting him on a list of potential targets last summer though.

Southampton's Lloyd Isgrove enjoyed a successful loan spell at Barnsley. Photo: PA

Southampton's Lloyd Isgrove enjoyed a successful loan spell at Barnsley. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Lloyd Isgrove

Position: Winger

Age: 24

Could he be the next young Welsh international attacker to arrive at Portman Road following on from Jonny Williams, Tom Lawrence and Emyr Huws?

Primarily a winger, but also capable of playing up front, he could be a decent option if Town want to sign a permanent replacement for Lawrence rather than look to another Premier League loan.

A product of the famed Southampton youth system, Isgrove has been limited almost exclusively to the odd cup appearance for the south coast outfit.

He enjoyed a superb year on loan at Barnsley when they won the League One Play-Off Final and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the Tykes may well make a move. Town were linked back in January.

Burton Albion goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin. Photo: PA

Burton Albion goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Jon McLaughlin

Position: Keeper

Age: 29

After helping Bradford City to League Two promotion and then impressing in League One, the Scottish keeper wasn’t happy with terms offered and dropped down a level to sign for Burton.

At the Pirelli Stadium he’s played virtually every game for the last three seasons as the Brewers have won successive promotions and retained their Championship status against the odds.

Veteran ex-Blues keeper Stephen Bywater played the final three games of 2016/17 though and boss Nigel Clough has said ‘we just feel that we want to move in a different direction with a different type of keeper’.

A good free transfer option if Town cash in on Bartosz Bialkowski.

Blackburn Rovers skipper Jason Lowe makes a typically robust challenge on Norwich Marcus Olsson. Pho

Blackburn Rovers skipper Jason Lowe makes a typically robust challenge on Norwich Marcus Olsson. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Jason Lowe

Position: Centre-midfield / right-back

Age: 25

Blackburn Rovers have released their captain following relegation to League One. He came through the youth ranks at Ewood Park and departs having made almost 200 appearances.

Rovers’ head of academy Eric Kinder said: “He wasn’t blessed with being the most talented player in the world, and he will accept that, but I will tell you what he’s got and that’s a big heart.”

Ex-Rovers boss Owen Coyle said: “Lowey, for me, sets a fantastic example; he wears his heart on his sleeve and he covers every blade of grass. He might not be everyone’s favourite but as a manager, he’s a player that you know will give you everything you’ve got.”

Sounds right up McCarthy’s street. Could add some leadership and versatility to the squad.

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