Stuart Watson: Assessment of Ipswich Town’s squad after an understatedly successful transfer window
- Credit: Archant
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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He might just be able to help stop the team being bullied on occasions too.
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.
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.
It has to be stressed that neither of those loan deals are going to break the bank.
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.
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.
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
CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Nydam, Hughes, Gibbs
STRIKERS: Morris, Simpson, Z Brown