Who might Town turn to in January? – Part one: Midfielders with Championship experience
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Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert is keen to add some Championship experience to his relegation-battling squad as soon as possible in January. In part one of this feature, STUART WATSON looks at some midfielders who fit the bill.
CHARLIE ADAM (Stoke City)
He’s out-of-favour, available and desperate for regular football, but there’s a chance Paul Lambert has burned his bridges with the 26-cap Scotland international.
Adam, 33, has said Lambert should have had more respect when asking Stoke players to be ‘water carriers’ for Xherdan Shaqiri during the Potter’s failed Premier League survival bid in the first half of this year. Lambert responded by saying they would have beaten the drop had Adam scored a penalty against Brighton.
The former Blackpool man appears to have his heart set on a return to Rangers under the management of his former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard.
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DARREN FLETCHER (Stoke City)
If not Adam, then what about another experienced Scottish midfielder at the bet365 Stadium?
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Former Manchester United man Fletcher actually made his international debut alongside Lambert back in 2003 and there was a clear mutual respect during their four months working together at Stoke earlier this year.
The 34-year-old has made just four Championship starts this season and has Joe Allen, Ryan Woods, and Etebo Oghenekaro ahead of him the pecking order.
HENRI LANSBURY (Aston Villa)
The former Norwich City loanee has often been the pantomime villain when facing the Blues in recent years, but Town could certainly do with his competitive edge, leadership qualities and technical ability right now.
His Villa career has never really taken off since a £2.75m move from Nottingham Forest two years ago.
Conor Hourihane, John McGinn, Birkir Bjarnason, Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak are all ahead of him in the pecking order and he’s made just two league starts this calendar year.
There would be an injury risk given a rare outing recently ended with him pulling a hamstring just eight minutes after coming on.
GARETH BARRY (West Brom)
He turns 38 in February, has racked up more than 700 appearances for clubs and country and, you would imagine, not be happy to simply let his career peter out.
The Baggies have been heavily linked with a January move for Leicester midfielder Andy King, with Jake Livermore, James Morrison and Chris Brunt already on their books.
Barry was handed a rare start last Friday though and produced an impressive display in a 2-2 draw with his former club Aston Villa.
WES HOOLAHAN (West Brom)
He wouldn’t, would he? The 36-year-old was given a hero’s send-off following a decade a Norwich. He never, as if you need reminding, lost an East Anglian derby in that time.
It was Paul Lambert who turned him into the fulcrum of the Canaries side that rapidly climbed the ladder though remember.
And now the skilful Irishman, 36, is rapidly heading towards the end of his short-term deal at the Hawthorns having made just four sub appearances this season.
LIAM BRIDCUTT (Nottingham Forest)
With Jack Colback, Claudio Yacob and Adlene Guedioura getting the most midfield game-time at Forest, Bridcutt could be made available in the new year.
The former Brighton, Sunderland and Leeds man is still only 29, knows the division and has worn the captain’s armband regularly in the past. Someone who sits in front of the back four and keeps the ball moving, he could be an ideal temporary replacement for the injured Cole Skuse.
JOE LEDLEY (Derby County)
The 77-cap Welsh international, 31, has the likes of Mason Mount, Craig Bryson, Harry Wilson, Bradley Johnson and Tom Huddlestone ahead of him in the pecking order.
He has not featured for Frank Lampard’s side since the end of August and, having recently returned to training after a minor hip operation, will soon be in the last six months of his contract.
DAVID JONES (Sheffield Wednesday)
The 34-year-old – who has vast Premier League and Championship experience with Preston, Derby, Wolves, Wigan and Burnley – has made just one appearance for Sheffield Wednesday this season and is out of contract in the summer
George Boyd is in a similar situation at Hillsborough and could be a left-sided option.
JASON PUNCHEON (Crystal Palace)
Almost joined Middlesbrough on loan back in the summer and will be made available again by Roy Hodgson after making just three sub appearances in the Premier League this season
Has been linked to Nottingham Forest and may well be out of Town’s reach.
GRANT LEADBITTER (Middlesbrough)
Brought to Ipswich for a £2.65m fee by Roy Keane in 2009, he split opinion during his three years at the club.
The 32-year-old has made just one league start for Boro this season, with Mo Besic, George Saville, Jonny Howson and Adam Clayton ahead of him in the pecking order.
Was linked with a return to his boyhood club Sunderland back in the summer following their relegation to League One.
STEVEN DAVIS (Southampton)
New Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has said he wants to trim his squad in January.
Experienced Northern Ireland international Davies, 34, will reportedly be let go for free given his contract expires next summer.
He’s another one who has been linked with a return to Rangers.
MATTY JAMES (Leicester City)
The former Manchester United youngster was a regular for Leicester in their promotion and ‘Great Escape’ seasons, but was sidelined for their fairytale Premier League title campaign due to a knee injury.
He spent the back end of the 2016/17 season on loan at Championship club Barnsley and could be loaned out again once he recovers from a long-term Achilles issue.