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How many new signings do Ipswich Town need? Stuart Watson's verdict, plus have your say

PUBLISHED: 08:19 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:30 21 May 2019

Ipswich Town are understood to be in pole position to sign 32-goal striker James Norwood when his Tranmere Rovers contract expires following Saturday's League Two Play-Off Final. Photo: PA

Ipswich Town are understood to be in pole position to sign 32-goal striker James Norwood when his Tranmere Rovers contract expires following Saturday's League Two Play-Off Final. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich Town have 34 professional players in their squad following the expiration of loans and contracts. STUART WATSON takes a look at the potential incomings and outgoings ahead this summer.

Ipswich Town are in talks with giant Gillingham goalkeeper Tomas Holy. Photo: PAIpswich Town are in talks with giant Gillingham goalkeeper Tomas Holy. Photo: PA

KEEPERS

Bialkowski, Wright

Long-term back-up man Dean Gerken, 33, has been released after making 113 appearances for the club. The Blues are closing in on his replacement in the form of Tomas Holy. The 6ft 9in Czech custodian, 27, is coming to the end of his deal at League One side Gillingham.

There's every chance that the Blues will cash-in on first-choice custodian Bartosz Bialkowski over the coming weeks. The 31-year-old signed a bumper new deal last summer and, even with a significant wage reduction clause, will still be a big earner in League One.

Already, it's understood that three Championship clubs have shown interest in Town's three-times Supporters' Player of the Year. Boss Paul Lambert has insisted players won't be sold 'on the cheap'. Owner Marcus Evans must decide what his tipping point is for a player who was attracting bids of £3m last summer. Town have replacements in mind.

Harry Wright could well be set for another loan spell.

VERDICT: One, possibly two, keepers incoming.

RIGHT-BACKS

Donacien, Emmanuel, Cotter

It's a position the Blues haven't really sorted for a number of years now - probably going back to David Wright almost a decade ago. There have been a string of hit and miss loanees, while Carlos Edwards and Luke Chambers have had prolonged spells playing out of position there.

Jordan Spence has been released having never set the world alight. His last appearance was in that FA Cup loss at Accrington Stanley back in January. James Bree returns to Aston Villa.

Lambert has been very clear that he sees Janoi Donacien, who he briefly worked with a long time ago at Aston Villa, as a centre-back. That stance could soften following the 25-year-old's return from a loan spell back at his former club in League One.

Josh Emmanuel has gained plenty of League One experience during loan spells at Rotherham and Shrewsbury. The 21-year-old found his opportunities limited under Lambert during the second half of last season though.

Luke Woolfenden returns to Ipswich Town after impressing on loan for League Two side Swindon Town. Photo: Dave EvansLuke Woolfenden returns to Ipswich Town after impressing on loan for League Two side Swindon Town. Photo: Dave Evans

Barry Cotter has been a long way from the first team picture since that memorable debut in what was Mick McCarthy's final game in charge back in April 2018. Lambert recently damned the Irish U21 international with feint praise by saying 'he's doing alright'.

VERDICT: Sense Town may work with what they've got.

CENTRE-BACKS

Chambers, Nsiala, Woolfenden, Ndaba

Luke Chambers' experience and leadership will be vital. He'll turn 35 in September though and it remains to be seen if he continues to play virtually every minute given there will be a lot more games.

Toto Nsiala, 27, has proven his durability and reliability at League One level, starting 58 games for Shrewsbury when they finished third. He could return to the third-tier a better player than before after a steep Championship learning curve.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert (right) must decide whether to deploy Alan Judge as a winger or central midfielder. Photot: PagepixIpswich Town manager Paul Lambert (right) must decide whether to deploy Alan Judge as a winger or central midfielder. Photot: Pagepix

Luke Woolfenden, 20, has enjoyed a super development year on loan at League Two club Swindon. Stepping up to League One looks to be his most natural next step. He is quick, comfortable on the ball and could be right up Lambert's street. He's a right-back option too.

Corrie Ndaba, 19, will provide some left-footed balance. He too has been raised as a ball-playing defender by the club's academy. Captained club's table-topping U23s and was very close to making his senior debut before Lambert declared he had 'tailed off a bit'.

VERDICT: Little bit more experience would be nice - but perhaps a luxury. Town don't want to block youngsters' pathway.

LEFT-BACKS

Kenlock, Webber, Clements

Callum Elder's loan has expired. Jonas Knudsen has been released after making it clear he wanted a fresh challenge.

Myles Kenlock looks to be in pole position for that vacant number three shirt after starting 18 of the last 20 games of 2018/19. The 20-year-old is far from the finished article, but showed signs of good progress in difficult circumstances. A prolonged spell in the team could see him blossom.

Pat Webber, 20, has had his deal extended by a further year. Bailey Clements, 18, has one more year on his pro deal.

VERDICT: Competition for Kenlock required.

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RIGHT-WINGERS

Edwards, Lankester

It's understood that Ipswich Town have shown interest in Conor Washington following the forward's release by Sheffield United. Photo: PAIt's understood that Ipswich Town have shown interest in Conor Washington following the forward's release by Sheffield United. Photo: PA

Gwion Edwards, 26, was a star player in League One for Peterborough and emerged from his difficult debut Championship campaign with some credit after scoring six goals.

Jack Lankester, 19, enjoyed an exciting breakthough season for the Blues. Lambert wants to use his dribbling and wand of a left-foot out on the right. Might that see Edwards shift across to his favoured left wing role? First Lankester needs to get fully fit after struggling with a back injury.

VERDICT: Two exciting options.

CENTRE-MIDFIELDERS

Skuse, Nolan, Bishop, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Nydam, El Mizouni, McGavin, Dobra

Trevoh Chalobah returns to Chelsea having started 36 games last season, Tom Adeyemi has been released following two injury-hit years, while it remains unclear when long-term injury absentee Emyr Huws will be fit again.

Even so, the Blues still have with a plethora of central midfield options.

Judge's role has been discussed. Cole Skuse's experience, reading of the game and, indeed, ability shouldn't be underestimated. Jon Nolan, who really started to find his feet after Lambert's arrival, looks like he'll have a key role to play on his return to a division he's had success in.

Homegrown trio Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes all bring differing attributes to the party. Bishop and Dozzell will really benefit from a full pre-season after their injuries.

VERDICT: Arguably lack a loud leader and physical presence, but don't lack quality. Up to Lambert to find the right blend from what he's got.

LEFT-WINGERS

Judge, Sears, Rowe, Roberts

If Lambert is to persist with 4-3-3, or a variation of it, then Freddie Sears won't be suited to a lone striker role. Don't be surprised to see him used as a left-winger again when fit.

The 29-year-old toiled in that role during the latter stages of Mick McCarthy's time in charge, but showed he can be a goal threat playing off the flank during the early stages of Lambert's regime.

The issue is that, having suffered an ACL knee injury in February, he is unlikely to be fully fit until at least November.

Alan Judge, 30, left Brentford as he was frustrated at playing on the wing. He had a few games at the tip of a diamond after joining Town but ended up playing, nominally, as a left-winger with the freedom to roam.

He could stay there as a temporary fix, though most would prefer to see him as the centre-piece of the team. You never know, Lambert may not even deploy a formation that has wingers.

Danny Rowe, 26, returns from a loan spell at Lincoln City with a League Two champions medal. Technically he looks a good player, but it remains to be seen if he has the dynamism Lambert seeks in a wide player.

Jordan Roberts, 25, made just five sub appearances during his end of season loan spell at Lincoln. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him move on.

VERDICT: Could make do and mend. Ideally one required. Town looking at experienced free agent Conor Washington. Higher level loan an option.

STRIKERS

Harrison, Jackson, Morris, Folami, Drinan, Brown

Town really paid for letting all their goalscorers - Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick - depart last summer. Strengthening his forward options will top Lambert's priorities this summer.

If it's going to be one up top, which looks increasingly likely, then Town need someone physical and athletic who bring others into play.

Ellis Harrison has the attributes to do that, and showed some positive signs in between injuries last season, but he has never been a prolific scorer. He may come good. Town won't go into the campaign pinning their hopes on him though.

Kayden Jackson is quick and aggressive. Dropping down to League One, after skipping a division, could do him the world of good. He'll be a good option if Lambert ever wishes to play two up top. It's hard to see beyond him being a squad player at best though.

Ben Morris and Ben Folami have shown glimpses of what they're about, but both are coming back from long-term injuries. Fellow youngsters Aaron Drinan and Kai Brown still have much to prove.

VERDICT: Proven goalscorer tops priority list. Town are in pole position to sign the prolific James Norwood from Tranmere Rovers following Saturday's League Two Play-Off Final. Don't rule out another in addition.

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