Which areas of the Ipswich Town squad will the Blues’ next manager need to address?
PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 21 May 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
The next man in at Portman Road will inherit the core of a good squad with some holes to fill. ANDY WARREN takes a look at the holes than need filling.
Talks regarding Bartosz Bialkowski’s contract remain ongoing, with the Ipswich No 1 stressing there are just small details to iron out before he signs the deal first revealed by former manager Mick McCarthy in January.
Assuming that contract is signed and sealed, the new manager will inherit a goalkeeping group headed up by a man who is surely the best the division has to offer. Dean Gerken is dependable as you will find as a back-up, with the release of young Welshman Michael Crowe meaning a young third-choice stopper may be on the agenda. Harry Wright, the teenage son of former Blue Richard, could perhaps fill that void.
However, if there is no sign of a resolution in the Bialkowski contract saga once he returns from the World Cup, arguably the club’s most saleable asset in the transfer market will be entering the new season with just a year remaining on his deal.
That could lead to some difficult decisions needing to be made.
It feels like Ipswich Town’s search for a full-time right back has been going on forever. It promises to be an interesting summer, with the emerging Barry Cotter, dependable but limited Jordan Spence and youngster Josh Emmanuel all in the mix, with the latter returning from a highly productive loan spell at Rotherham that could end with a Wembley promotion. Luke Woolfenden could also be in the mix here.
The left side is far more simple, with Jonas Knudsen and Myles Kenlock two solid options. Knudsen is more defensive, Kenlock more attacking, with a more open competition for a starting role than the one we saw during last season likely. Like Bialkowski, Knudsen enters the new season with just a year remaining on his deal.
At least one new central defender is surely needed as the Blues bid to permanently replace Tommy Smith following his move to Colorado in January.
Cameron Carter-Vickers could be that man if they can entice him to return on loan again next season, with the USA international impressing during his 17 games during the second half of the last campaign. Mick McCarthy, if he resurfaces elsewhere in the Championship this summer, could also be interested but it’s worth remembering it was Bryan Klug who originally brokered Carter-Vickers’ move from Tottenham.
It would be in no way surprising if the Blues began next season with a pairing of Luke Chambers and Adam Webster at the heart of the new boss’s defence, with Spence and Knudsen both proving able deputies in the middle at times last season. Again, Woolfenden could be a factor here.
It’s well documented that this could be the biggest source of excitement for the next man in at Portman Road.
Andre Dozzell, Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Tom Adeyemi are all set to return from injury while Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes will enter next season on a high after their breakthrough campaigns. Add the ever dependable Cole Skuse into the mix and you have a wealth of options and combinations to suit any style or situation.
No additions are necessary, with the Ipswich Town engine room surely the area for the next manager to build around.
Presently, this area of the Ipswich Town squad consists of Grant Ward and Danny Rowe. That needs to change after the departures of Bersant Celina and Mustapha Carayol, leaving the wide areas paper thin.
Celina followed Tom Lawrence and Ryan Fraser as the latest Premier League loanee brought in to try and provide a creative spark from the flanks, with the Blues’ financial restrictions seemingly pricing them out of making permanent additions.
This approach could continue but, whichever way they go about it, the Blues must address this area of the field if they are to implement any kind of style change as the club looks to entertain under a new manager.
Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner arrived from Rangers last summer and combined for 26 goals in their debut seasons in Suffolk. The Blues could use a little more firepower, though, with the anticipated departure of David McGoldrick offering further wiggle-room in terms of wage budget.
Garner is an out-and-out, if undersized, target man while Waghorn has the neat touch and guile to bring others into play as well as score himself. What has been missing from the mix of late is pace, the ability to burn past defenders and stretch the opposition backline.
Freddie Sears could offer much of that, if a new manager could play him in his preferred, central position and allow the former West Ham youngster to build on the two goals he scored in the last two games of the season. That could make him a real asset and take some of the burden away from Waghorn and Garner.
The two Bens, Folami and Morris, have showed promise but it’s perhaps too early to rely on the teenage duo just yet.