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'If it's right in a business sense we'll look at it' - O'Neill on prospect of selling young stars

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 02 January 2020

Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes have been among Ipswich Town's best performers this season. Picture: ARCHANT

Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes have been among Ipswich Town's best performers this season. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Ipswich Town general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill has refused to rule out the prospect of the club cashing in on their young stars in the January transfer window.

Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes leave the pitch after the defeat at Lincoln City. Picture: PagepixLuke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes leave the pitch after the defeat at Lincoln City. Picture: Pagepix

Blues boss Paul Lambert, who has just put pen to paper on a new long-term contract, has repeatedly said that he might have to sell to buy at the start of 2020.

Homegrown duo Luke Woolfenden, 21, and Flynn Downes, 20, have been linked to Championship clubs QPR and Fulham respectively in recent weeks following their impressive starts to the League One campaign.

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"It's something that he's talked about," said O'Neill, when asked about Lambert's sell to buy comments.

"We want to keep hold of our better players and our younger players as long as possible to try and give us the ability to go to the next level.

"If it's right in a business sense, and provides the chance for reinvestment in the future, it's something we will look at.

"But ideally we would like to keep them at the football club as long as possible."

MORE: 'I love the club and I love the support... who knows, this could be my last gig' - Lambert on his new five-year Ipswich contract

Asked if the club had received any bids for players, O'Neill, speaking straight after the New Year's Day 1-1 draw at Wycombe, laughed: "It's literally the first day (of the window) - I'll have to go and check my e-mails!

"No, nothing at the moment. We get a lot of enquiries, a lot of phone calls, a lot of people asking a lot of questions, but the proof is the next step and we've not had anything yet."

On the prospect of Lambert strengthening his promotion-chasing squad this month, O'Neill added: "We've invested in the recruitment area of the football club and are always looking for players that will bring quality to the team.

"If there are players out there we can get then who can improve us then we will look at it, but it's not an open cheque book by any means.

"There are one or two coming back from injury (Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop) and that's exciting."

Lambert revealed last month that the club were in talks with Everton regarding a permanent deal for loan player Luke Garbutt.

"Luke's done very well," said O'Neill. "He's been great for us in that position, he's added goals and assists and is someone we'd obviously like to have in the future.

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"There are a lot of things that go into that though. He's at a Premier League club at the moment and we have to respect that. We'll have conversations later on.

"I think he's enjoying his football, the run of games and the challenge. Over the last 10 games there are things he could have done better and he's aware of that."

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