Winging it: Teddy Bishop set for wide role, while Cameron Stewart has ‘clean-ish slate’
- Credit: Archant
Mick McCarthy is ready to turn Ipswich Town into wingless wonders this season.
The Blues boss has seen Ryan Fraser, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (loans expired), Jay Tabb, Luke Varney and Larsen Toure (released) depart the club this summer, leaving him without a single genuine wide player in his squad a week before the first pre-season friendly.
Striker Freddie Sears played on the wing for the majority of last season and, with recent loanee Liam Feeney having turned down Town to join Championship rivals Blackburn, it seems as though there will be more square pegs in round holes this time around.
“I have to say, wingers are few and far between,” said McCarthy. “I tried to sign Liam Feeney, but I’m not broken hearted. I wanted to sign him, but if he doesn’t want to come to me then it’s his loss. We’ll get somebody else. We move on.
“I’ve had Bish (Teddy Bishop) play right side of midfield. If he stays fit then who’s to say he can’t play there? He’s quick enough to do it and he’s got more ability than Liam, there’s no question about that.
“We might have to do something slightly different. It might not be wingers, it might be midfield players. I’m cool with that.”
Recently-relegated Newcastle have replaced Andros Townsend with Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie, for a reported £10m fee. McCarthy, by contrast, will look to the loan market.
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The chances of Fraser returning is virtually nil (he’ll almost certainly be in the Cherries’ plans now Ritchie has left), while it’s understood that speculation linking Tyrone Mings with a loan return to the club are wide of the mark at present. Maitland-Niles coming back from Arsenal at some stage remains a possibility.
“We’re not going to just go out and pick who we like and spend loads of money,” said McCarthy. “Whatever we end up with I will manage them to best of my ability and look to get the best out of them as a team. That’s always exciting for me. I like that.
“I’m not worried. I’ve got eight really solid defenders, I’ve got plenty of midfield players and we’ve got four strikers still. We’re alright.”
Wide players such as Tommy Oar, Alex Henshall, Dylan Connolly and Jack Doherty have come and gone during McCarthy’s time at Portman Road, but forgotten man Cameron Stewart still has a year left on his deal.
The 25-year-old former Manchester United and Hull player has made just two substitute appearances since joining as a free agent in 2014 and has had loan spells at Barnsley and Doncaster.
“There’s been a bit of interest in him, but he’s done his bleep test and come back really fit this time, so I don’t have to fall out with him!” quipped McCarthy. “If he wants to work hard and be involved in the squad, and he’s fit, then we’ll see because he’s got ability.”
Does that mean Stewart has a clean slate?
“Not quite a clean slate, no. Clean-ish,” said the Blues boss. “It’s the first day back and he’s a lot of work to do. I’d love him to do it. It’s down to him.”