‘I think we need one or two to try and help... But if you have too many then it becomes a problem’ – Lambert on his transfer plans
PUBLISHED: 17:21 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 21:35 27 June 2019
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he would still like to add ‘one or two’ new faces to his squad in the coming weeks, but insists it’s important to make sure the squad is not too bloated.
So far this summer, 14 senior players have departed Portman Road - seven released, six loans expiring and Ellis Harrison sold to Portsmouth (£500k) - with just two players recruited for the first team squad in striker James Norwood (Tranmere, free) and keeper Tomas Holy (Gillingham, free).
It's seen the squad reduced from 49 professionals to 34, with 25 of them deemed to be first team players judging by who took part in the main training session today and who is still to return.
"We've got 23/24 players at the minute," said Lambert. "You can only have 18 (in the match day squad). We might try and bring somebody else in to help, but if you keep bringing people in then it stops the progression of the young ones coming through.
"It doesn't make sense (keep bringing people in). You may as well scrap the academy if we're not going to utilise it.
"The squad was massive last year, huge, and carried too many disappointing players.
"We have 23 players now and any manager will tell you that's the sort of number they want to work with, because if you have too many then it becomes a problem."
Town pulling the plug on Bartosz Bialkowski's move to Millwall negates the need to sign another keeper for now, while Lambert's comments about not blocking the pathway for young players suggests he won't be rushing to make additions at right-back, centre-back and central midfield.
And it remains to be seen if competition is brought in for sole left-back Myles Kenlock.
When it was put to him that, following Harrison's sale, he only has two fit senior strikers as it stands - Norwood and Kayden Jackson (with Freddie Sears not due back in action until October/November) - the Blues boss was quick to correct.
"No, I've got Jordan (Roberts) as well," he said. "Listen, I think we need one or two more to try and help.
"If we get another striker - great. But if you've got four strikers then you've got to try and keep everybody happy.
"There are lot of games. You can play 60, 61, 62 games quite easily. We're not a good enough side to rely on one or two people. We're going to need everybody. I think it's important that hopefully everybody gets games."
With Roberts seen as a striker, does that mean Lambert will want to add a left-sided winger/forward to the mix? Does he really want Alan Judge - who has made it clear he prefers playing through the middle - operating out on that side long-term?
"Listen, if you want to pick the team you can take my shirt," quipped the Blues boss. "I'll decide where I want to play Judgey.
"I know what Judgey can do. He can play anywhere across the front or in midfield. I've got something in my head with it.
"Jack (Lankester) is coming back, Gwion (Edwards) is coming back, Danny (Rowe, is here)… I might look somewhere else. I know exactly where we should be strengthening."
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He added: "I don't need one to go for one to come in. If there is someone I think can make us better than I can look at it.
"Some (transfers) happen and some don't happen. We wait and see. We've still got a lot of time. We'll try and work accordingly within the way we want to work."
The Blues have sold Harrison to League One rivals Portsmouth for £500k and will be due a further £800k sell-on fee from the South Coast club following Matt Clarke's £4m move to Brighton. The coffers could be further boosted if former players Tyrone Mings, Adam Webster and Kieffer Moore make big money moves in this window.
"That money is structured, it doesn't really come in this season," explained Lambert.
"We will probably look at the frees unless something comes up and (owner) Marcus (Evans) says we can buy. I don't have a problem with that. That's football. You have to respect where the club is going. It's not a problem.
"If it's frees we have to look really hard. If you get them in, great, if you don't then you move on.
"We've got a really big squad as it is at the minute, so we have to wait and see what transpires over the next few weeks."
Asked if recent loanee striker Will Keane could sign permanently following his release by Hull City, the Blues boss said: "Will's probably still rehabbing with his hamstring. That's the situation. We'll wait and see. I need everybody fully fit to perform."
On his decision to sell Harrison, he explained: "The club got the offer and we said 'okay, if we're trying to get James (Norwood) in as well then we'll have four strikers which would be hard to carry'.
"Ellis maybe wanted to go as well. It had been a hard year for him with injuries. There was no problem with Ellis, he's a good guy, but we never really had him fit.
"There was no ill feeling or animosity at all, it's just the decision we made."
IPSWICH TOWN'S 2019 SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW
INS (3): James Norwood (Tranmere, Bosman free), Tomas Holy (Gillingham, Bosman free), Adam Przybek (West Brom, free).
OUTS (14): Dean Gerken (released), Jordan Spence (released), James Bree (loan expired), Matthew Pennington (loan expired), James Collins (released), Jonas Knudsen (released, signed for Malmo), Callum Elder (loan expired), Trevoh Chalobah (loan expired), Tom Adeyemi (released), Grant Ward (released), Simon Dawkins (released), Ellis Harrison (Portsmouth, £500k), Will Keane (loan expired), Collin Quaner (loan expired).
IPSWICH TOWN FIRST TEAM SQUAD AS IT STANDS (25)
Bialkowski, Holy; Emmanuel, Donacien, Chambers, Nsiala, Woolfenden, Ndaba, Kenlock; Judge, Skuse, Nolan, Bishop, Downes, Dozzell, Nydam, El Mizouni, Huws; Edwards, Lankester, Rowe; Norwood, Jackson, Sears, Roberts.