Paul Hurst’s dozen – the verdict on Ipswich Town new boys so far
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
There’s been a complete squad overhaul under new boss Paul Hurst. Stuart Watson gives his verdict on how the 12 new signings have started at Ipswich Town.
Signed on loan from Accrington Stanley but is set to become a permanent addition – for an agreed fee of around £750k – once some work permits issues are sorted, hopefully before the trip to Hull a week on Saturday.
He operated as a left-back for much of last season, made his Town debut at centre-half against Blackburn Rovers, but was soon switched to right-back – the position manager Paul Hurst always had in mind for the man with the No,2 on his back.
At times the 26-year-old has maybe got a little too tight to his man, and it would be nice to see a little more offensively, but he’s certainly not looked out of is depth after stepping up from League Two to the Championship.
He kept Aston Villa danger man Albert Adomah quiet in the 1-1 home draw, then handled tricky former Blues loanee Tom Lawrence pretty well in the 2-0 defeat at Derby County. Okay, Sheffield Wednesday wide man Lucas Joao scored twice in the 2-1 defeat at Hillsborough, but it still came as a surprise when Jordan Spence was preferred to him for Sunday’s 1-1 East Anglian derby draw with Norwich.
Match ratings: 665876
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Links back up with long-term mentor Paul Hurst following spells under his management at Grimsby Town and Shrewsbury Town.
An athletic, rugged centre-back who simply loves to defend. He can leap to win headers in either box and use his pace to mop up at the back. Physically he’s looked every inch the part, but the 26-year-old – who has previously played in the National League, League Two and League One – is learning what you can and can’t get away with in the Championship.
He gave away costly free-kicks against Rotherham and Derby (arguably harshly done by for both), while he was also dismissed for a tackle on Fernando Forestieri at Sheffield Wednesday (a complete miscarriage of justice).
Players at this level are that bit quicker and cannier though and Nsiala may have to curb his slide tackling instinct slightly (not easy) to prevent referees having a decision to make.
Match ratings: 77767
Joined on a season-long loan from Everton just moments before the window shut at 5pm last Friday.
The 23-year-old has made nine appearances for his boyhood club (including scoring a goal in a Merseyside Derby) and got taste of the Championship last season when on loan at Leeds (15 starts and nine sub appearances on loan).
He was thrown straight into the starting line-up for Sunday’s East Anglian derby at Portman Road, replacing the suspended Nsiala at centre-back, and was up there in terms of man-of-the-match candidates after producing an assured display.
Deceptively quick, reads the game well and provided some decent raking balls forwards. With skipper Luke Chambers having started every league game so far, it’s going to be fascinating to see who ends up being the centre-back pairing of choice, especially if veteran defender James Collins – currently training with the club – signs as a free agent in the coming days.
Match ratings: 8
The Chelsea loanee may only be 19 but he has some real pedigree. Was on the bench for the FA Cup Final last May, trained with England’s senior squad prior to the World Cup and then captained the Under-19s at the European Championships.
He may well end up a centre-back, like his older brother Nathaniel at Watford, but Hurst has used him primarily as a holding midfielder during these early steps into men’s football.
You can see the huge potential. There’s been plenty of swagger but also a fair bit of sloppiness. He sent his spot-kick well wide at Exeter, but hooked home an equaliser against Villa. Undoubtedly, he has tended to fade around the 70 minute mark of games.
Going to be fun to watching him grow as the season goes on.
Match ratings: 7767567
Diminutive, versatile left-footer with a lovely low centre of gravity.
The 20-year-old – on a season-long loan from newly-promoted Fulham – scored on his debut when his cross crept in at the far post for a dramatic late leveller against Blackburn.
He played on the left wing when stepping off the bench that day, but has since played as a central midfielder – his preferred position. Was full of energy, tenacity and positive intent at Exeter before fading, then was harshly dismissed for two yellow cards just before half-time of the Aston Villa draw.
Did okay on his return at Hillsborough and then was dropped for the visit of Norwich. Looks to be very a useful squad asset.
Match ratings: 77866
Close ball control, tight turning circle, treats the ball with care and capable of both spotting and executing a forward pass.
Hurst was desperate to be reunited with his former Shrewsbury star man and, technically, he does look every inch the Championship player.
The 26-year-old still seems to be getting up to the speed of this level though. He needs to be more involved in games and support the front men more. Looks capable of chipping in with his fair share of goals.
Match ratings: 778666
Flying Welsh winger has produced some dazzling displays on the right.
Headed home just five minutes into his debut and then had us all cooing with one audacious flick and run. Woodwork denied him a super goal against Villa, then he frightened the Norwich defence with his directness throughout. Deflected finish against the Canaries further cements his status as new fans’ favourite.
There have been quieter games, as can be the case with old-fashioned wingers, but he certainly looks a snip at £700k from League Two side Peterborough. At last Town have a crowd-pleaser they can call their own.
Match ratings: 877567
Arrived on a season-long loan from Wolves last week. The 23-year-old, who had a very brief spell at Town back in 2013, will be looking to rediscover the sparkling form he produced pre long-term injury midway through the 2015/16 campaign. During that purple patch he produced a string of assists and man-of-the-match displays.
Went straight into the team against Norwich but failed to make much impact out on the left. Was booked for a dive in the box, while his set-piece deliveries were a mixed bag.
Match ratings: 5
A Bosman free transfer signing from League Two side Crawley, Roberts is probably seen as more of a long-term project.
The 24-year-old, who can play wide left or up front, loves to take on his marker and get crosses or shots away. Restricted to two sub appearances so far, including a bright cameo at Derby.
Match ratings: 67
Former Town favourite is back at Portman Road as a loan addition from Burnley.
The 34-year-old striker has been drafted in until January to provide some much-needed experience and leadership – both on and off the pitch.
Since departing Portman Road in 2010, he had racked up 226 appearances in the Premier League for Stoke and made 53 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
May have missed most of last year through injury, but looked fit and sharp when playing the full match against Norwich. Could be the shrewdest addition of the lot.
Match ratings: 8
Striker with a reputation as being one of the quickest in the business, he scored 16 goals in League Two for Accrington Stanley last season. At £1.6m he was Town’s most expensive signing in almost a decade.
Began by playing the role of impact sub, but has started the last two games. Closes down defenders quickly, has an aggressive edge and makes selfless runs into the channels. Yet to really catch the eye though.
Hopefully there is a lot more to come from the new No.9.
Match ratings: 676666
Welshman has been schooled in the art of forward play by Town hero Marcus Stewart at Bristol Rovers.
From what we’ve seen so far, the 24-year-old – who cost £750k – he looks a decent all-rounder. He’s quick enough, can hold the ball up and is strong in the air for his height.
You have to say he hasn’t quite replicated his impressive pre-season display against West Ham. So often he looked isolated when leading the line on his own. Indeed, he was probably more threatening when used as a makeshift left-winger at Sheffield Wednesday.
Faces serious competition now Walters has arrived.
Match ratings: 757576