Six Ipswich Town questions that need answering before the transfer window opens
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Ipswich Town’s preparations for League One can now begin in earnest. STUART WATSON looks at some short-term questions that need answering before the transfer season kicks in.
How many season tickets will be sold?
Average league attendances had been steadily declining at Portman Road over this century – from 25,455 in the first season following Championship relegation to 16,271 in Mick McCarthy’s last campaign. That has risen to 17,622 during this relegation season.
The Blues went into this campaign with around 10,200 season tickets. They have already surpassed that figure for 2018/19, with the club having revealed that close to 10,500 – including 1,200 new purchasers – were sold within the first week.
Fans, who have already taken advantage of discounts, will receive a further 10% price rebate if 12,000 season tickets were sold before yesterday’s early bird deadline. More than 11,200 had been sold by yesterday morning but news on the final total should come soon.
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Who will depart?
Town currently have 49 players on professional contracts. Paul Lambert has admitted that number needs to be reduced.
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Five loan deals – James Bree, Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Elder, Will Keane, Matthew Pennington – will come to an end. Realistically, only Elder (who still has another year on his Leicester contract) and Keane (soon to be out-of-contract at Hull) are the only two who could be signed.
Jonas Knudsen, Tom Adeyemi, Jordan Spence and Simon Dawkins look dead certs to leave when their contracts expire, with Lambert holding meetings with his players at Playford Road yesterday.
It remains to be seen if Town look to negotiate a new deal with either James Collins or Grant Ward given their injuries, while a big decision needs to be made on goalkeeper Dean Gerken.
Under-23 trio Chris Smith, Pat Webber and Connor McKendry are all set to become free agents.
What will the new kits look like?
It’s understood the photoshoot for Town’s 2019/20 kits took place last week. Those will be revealed in the coming days.
For the first time ever, the club’s women’s side will be wearing the same strip as the men.
The colour cycle for the away shirt in recent years, in reverse order, has been: Orange, red, white, ‘Barcelona’ stripes, orange, red, white.
Could we see black make a return for the first time since 2011/12?
Spoiler alert: The home shirt will be blue.
How’s pre-season going to shape up?
It’s an open secret that Lambert, a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund in 1997, will be taking the squad to Germany for a pre-season trip in July.
We wait to find out how many games there will be over there, who the opposition will be and how fan friendly the trip will be.
The annual visit to Dublin under Mick McCarthy was adding to a sense of Groundhog Day. The hastily rearranged week in Spain last summer was a glorified boot camp under Paul Hurst.
Players and supporters alike are hoping this year will be a much more positive experience.
It will also be interesting to see what type of opposition is lined up for the ensuing games on home soil.
Who will emerge from international action unscathed?
Bartosz Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen had just 10 days off last summer following their World Cup exploits with Poland and Denmark respectively.
Knudsen will soon be gone. Bialkowski, whose own future is uncertain, is no longer being picked by his country.
That leaves Alan Judge as Town’s sole senior international. The Republic of Ireland face Denmark (a) and Gibraltar (h) in European Championship qualifiers on June 7 and 10.
Meanwhile, a host of Town youngsters could be involved in the prestigious Toulon Tournament, which takes place in France’s south eastern region of Provence between June 1-15.
Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes are very much in the England U20 frame (they face Japan, Portugal and Chile in Group A), while Corrie Ndaba, Barry Cotter and Aaron Drinan could feature for the Republic of Ireland’s U21s (they face China, Mexico and Bahrain in Group C).
Who will Town start life in League One against?
Fixture release date is 9am on Thursday, June 20. This is probably the moment that the reality of League One football really sinks in.
Town’s season opener could be on Saturday, August 3, though there’s every chance it will be selected for television coverage on Friday 2.
There’s no news yet on when the draw for the Checkatrade Trophy and EFL Cup will take place.