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Stuart Watson: Assessment of Ipswich Town’s squad after an understatedly successful transfer window

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 21:32 16 October 2020

Ipswich Town's five summer signings: Stephen Ward, Oli Hawkins, Mark McGuinness, David Cornell and Keanan Bennetts. Photos: ITFC

Ipswich Town's five summer signings: Stephen Ward, Oli Hawkins, Mark McGuinness, David Cornell and Keanan Bennetts. Photos: ITFC

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The domestic transfer window closed at 5pm today. STUART WATSON assesses the business Ipswich Town have done and the squad manager Paul Lambert has for the months ahead.

David Cornell arrived at Ipswich Town on a free transfer from Northampton Town. Photo: ITFCDavid Cornell arrived at Ipswich Town on a free transfer from Northampton Town. Photo: ITFC

No real headline news, all very understated, but that looks like a very tidy transfer window for Ipswich Town under the circumstances.

Earlier in the summer, as everyone debated what Paul Lambert needed to add to improve his squad, most wish lists included some or all of the following: A goalkeeper, left-back, centre-back, winger and striker. Well all five of those have been delivered.

More importantly, the players who have been added will provide some of the missing attributes from last season.

Stephen Ward was snapped up on a free transfer following his release by Stoke City. Photo: Steve WallerStephen Ward was snapped up on a free transfer following his release by Stoke City. Photo: Steve Waller

It was previously a quiet squad. Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse are highly respected, but well-worn voices in the camp. Freddie Sears, Alan Judge and Emyr Huws were next in terms of experience. Then came a whole load of players who had never experienced the pressure of playing for a club of Ipswich’s stature with an expectation to win.

MORE: ‘Hopefully I can be that extra voice that’s needed’ – Ward determined to finish career on a high at Ipswich

Another assured voice was needed. That’s why the addition of Stephen Ward was so astute. The 35-year-old has played Premier League and international football most of his career. On and off the pitch, his wise head will be crucial over the months ahead.

As well as James Norwood and Kayden Jackson did last season, a physical option was required up top. Oli Hawkins, at 6ft 5in, provides just that. Portsmouth wingers Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis scored regularly feeding off him in League One just two years ago. We’re already seeing how his link-up play is helping Town’s midfield and wide men to start firing.

MORE: ‘Big Oli has been fantastic... but I want him to score!’ – Lambert on striker Hawkins

He might just be able to help stop the team being bullied on occasions too.

Ipswich Town signed Mark McGuinness on a season-long loan from Arsenal after he impressed against the Blues in the EFL Trophy. Photo: ITFCIpswich Town signed Mark McGuinness on a season-long loan from Arsenal after he impressed against the Blues in the EFL Trophy. Photo: ITFC

Another thing Town looked a little short on was pace and left-footed balance. That’s why Keanan Bennetts has been brought in on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach. Sears, Judge and Lankester are clever wide men that do their damage when drifting into pockets of space. Bennetts, like Edwards, provides a quick and direct option for the days when clinical counter-attacking is required.

MORE: ‘He’s chosen that road so let’s see how he does’ – Lambert on Dobra rejecting loan exit

Was another ball playing centre-back required? Arguably not given how well Corrie Ndaba looked in pre-season. You don’t turn down the chance to sign Mark McGuinness though after he played as well as he did in the EFL Trophy at Portman Road. The Arsenal youngster also brings the leadership trait.

Ipswich Town signed winger Keanan Bennetts on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach. Picture: ITFCIpswich Town signed winger Keanan Bennetts on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach. Picture: ITFC

It has to be stressed that neither of those loan deals are going to break the bank.

MORE: Aubameyang and Lacazette? I had them in my back pocket! – McGuinness ready to make his mark at Ipswich

There was debate as to whether Ipswich needed another keeper. For me, it was prudent to bring in someone senior to replace Will Norris and keep Tomas Holy on his toes. David Cornell was a key figure in a Northampton side that kept plenty of clean sheets on the way to League Two promotion last season. I’m not sure you could have got anyone much better as a League One squad keeper on a free.

Five in, five out. Plus the likes of Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop, Lankester and Aaron Drinan feel like new proverbial ‘new signings’ too. An improved squad? I think so. That takes some doing given the new salary cap restrictions. And it represents a relatively modest turnover of players in this coronavirus affected period of trading too.

MORE: League One transfer guide – The lowdown on every summer signing of 2020

For context, 13 of the 24 clubs in League One reached double digits for additions following on from mass exits earlier in the summer. Ipswich will be hoping such stability goes in their favour, certainly in the early weeks of the campaign, as their rivals go through a bedding in process.

Ipswich Town signed striker Oli Hawkins following his release by Portsmouth. Photo:  ITFCIpswich Town signed striker Oli Hawkins following his release by Portsmouth. Photo: ITFC

And when we get deeper into this hectic season, Town’s squad depth should then come into play. Lambert has 29 players in his first team squad and at least two for every position. Very few League One managers will have that luxury this season and Ipswich should be able to cope with injuries better than most.

The tools are there. Let’s see if they can be fully utilised.

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IPSWICH TOWN’S TRANSFER WINDOW

IN: David Cornell (Northampton, free), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal, loan), Stephen Ward (Stoke, free), Kanan Bennetts (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Oli Hawkins (Portsmouth, free)

OUT: Will Norris (Wolves loan expired), Luke Garbutt (Everton loan expired), Jordan Roberts, Danny Rowe, Will Keane (all released)

SENT OUT ON LOAN: Harry Wright (GAIS), Adam Przybek (Braintree), Levi Andoh (Lowestoft), Bailey Clements, K Brown (both Dagenham & Redbridge), Barry Cotter (Chelmsford) Idris El Mizouni (Cambridge Utd), Ben Folami (Melbourne Victory, TBC)

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IPSWICH TOWN’S FIRST TEAM SQUAD

KEEPERS: Holy, Cornell

RIGHT-BACKS: Chambers, Vincent-Young*, Donacien

CENTRE-BACKS: Wilson, Nsiala, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Ndaba

LEFT-BACKS: Ward*, Kenlock

CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Dozzell, Bishop, Nolan, Downes*, Huws, Skuse*, Judge, McGavin

WINGERS: Edwards, Lankester, Sears, Bennetts, Dobra

STRIKERS: Hawkins, Norwood*, Jackson, Drinan*

* Currently injured

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OTHER IPSWICH TOWN PROS

KEEPERS: White

RIGHT-BACKS: Crowe

LEFT-BACKS: Smith

CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Nydam, Hughes, Gibbs

WINGERS: Crane

STRIKERS: Morris, Simpson, Z Brown


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