Report Card: Grading the men McCarthy left behind following Town's dismal season

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 May 2019

Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and Bartosz Bialkowski

Cole Skuse, Luke Chambers and Bartosz Bialkowski

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In the first of our Report Card series ANDY WARREN takes a look at how the players left behind by Mick McCarthy fared during the course of the season

Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse were again key members of the Ipswich Town team this season.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMLuke Chambers and Cole Skuse were again key members of the Ipswich Town team this season. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

It's been a desperate season for Ipswich Town, resulting in the club slipping into the third tier for the first time since 1957.

As part of our Report Card series, we'll review the season for every player who made a start for the club during the course of the campaign.

We start with the senior players already at the club prior to the arrival of Paul Hurst, before going on to look at the summer signings, Paul Lambert's January additions and the young players to have taken to the field this season.

Luke Chambers has played 44 games for Town this season. Picture PagepixLuke Chambers has played 44 games for Town this season. Picture Pagepix

Luke Chambers

The captain was ultimately voted supporters' player-of-the-year but will be the first to admit he was far from his best during the season, with the award as much for his devotion and passion for the club as it was his performances.

Was part of a defence that conceded 77 goals in the Championship and kept just three clean sheets, with the skipper certainly needing to take his share of the blame.

He played in 44 of the club's 48 games in all competitions but dealt with injuries for much of the season- most notably a broken wrist suffered against Rotherham and a foot issue which required blood to be drained before he took to the field.

Spoke with passion throughout and didn't shy away from reality during Paul Hurst's reign, following his sacking and at a time when the reality of relegation began to set in. It's clear he's hurting.

His season ended with a red card against Leeds, meaning he will be suspended for the opening day of Town's League One campaign.

Has signed up for two more years. Needs a rest this summer, both physically and mentally.

Starts: 44 Sub: 0 Mins: 3,949 Goals: 0

Grade: C

Cole Skuse's season was disrupted by injury.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comCole Skuse's season was disrupted by injury. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Cole Skuse

Like good friend Chambers, the midfielder's season was disrupted by injury.

Was a key man under Hurst, starting all-but one of the former Town boss's league games in charge, but took things up a gear following the appointment of Paul Lambert.

Was playing on the turn, spraying passes across the field and was a driving force in midfield before suffering a knee injury in training which ultimately required surgery.

Such is his desire to help his team, the 33-year-old was only sidelined for half of the expected 10-week lay-off but he wasn't the same player upon his return. He wasn't as able to stamp his mark on games.

From there he was in-and-out of Lambert's side, with the Town boss hinting on a number of occasions that the midfielder can't expect to play every game as he reaches the latter years of his career.

He still figures to be an important player next season, though.

Starts: 32 Sub: 2 Mins: 2,710 Goals: 0

Grade: C+

Bartosz Bialkowski had a disappointing season.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMBartosz Bialkowski had a disappointing season. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Bartosz Bialkowski

The Pole was with his country at the World Cup less than a year ago, signing a bumper new contract upon his return.

Started the season slowly and should take his share of the blame for a succession of set-piece goals in the early weeks of the campaign, but it was still a major surprise to see him dropped for the home clash with Norwich. He later revealed his disappointment at only being told of the decision an hour before kick-off.

Played in Lambert's first five games but looked shaky, pushing the ball into his own net against Bristol City and spilling for Lewis Grabban to score at Nottingham Forest, before being dropped again.

Returned in January and looked much more like the player who had won three-successive player-of-the-year awards.

Didn't keep a single clean sheet.

Remains to be seen if he is still an Ipswich player come the start of next season.

Starts: 30 Sub: 0 Mins: 2,700 Conceded: 51

Grade: D

Town keeper Dean Gerken could be set to depart this summer.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMTown keeper Dean Gerken could be set to depart this summer. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Dean Gerken

Has been firmly in Bialkowski's shadow for two-and-a-half seasons but featured 18 times during this campaign - his most since 2015/16.

Like his team-mate he had some difficult moments - misjudging a high ball at Birmingham, clawing into his own net at home to QPR, spilling a shot in the return at Loftus Road and again struggling to deal with a cross against Sheffield United.

Had some good games, too, including his first of the season when he was thrust into action against Norwich.

Was involved in three of Ipswich's five wins and kept all three of the club's clean sheets this season.

Could move on.

Starts: 18 Sub: 0 Mins: 1,620 Conceded: 28

Grade: D

Jonas Knudsen applauds fans - he's set to move on.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMJonas Knudsen applauds fans - he's set to move on. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Jonas Knudsen

Like Bialkowski, returned from the World Cup with Denmark and had a tough season.

He was warned early by Hurst that he had to fight for his place but did earn a starting spot before being dropped at Swansea.

Was a feature under Lambert until it was revealed the Dane had asked to move on, leading to him being dropped for seven games at the turn of the year and throughout the January window. No move came.

Returned at Norwich before being sent off at Wigan, making just one more appearance before season's end.

Will be playing elsewhere next season.

Starts: 28 Sub: 1 Mins: 2,499 Goals: 0

Grade: D

Jordan Spence hasn't featured since the FA Cup loss at Accrington.   PICTURE: STEVE WALLER   WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMJordan Spence hasn't featured since the FA Cup loss at Accrington. PICTURE: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Jordan Spence

Another who will be moving on now his contract is up.

Struggled to convince Hurst he was the man for the job at right-back, starting just five games, but was in the XI for Lambert's first dozen.

The full-back allowed too many balls to be delivered into the Town box and was guilty of concentration lapses.

Lambert hinted after the FA Cup humbling at Accrington that he knew which players would need to move on.

Spence didn't play again after that.

Starts: 16 Sub: 2 Mins: 1,521 Goals: 0

Grade: D-

Freddie Sears celebrates his second half strike at Villa Park Picture PagepixFreddie Sears celebrates his second half strike at Villa Park Picture Pagepix

Freddie Sears

Ended the season as joint leading scorer alongside Gwion Edwards.

Having toiled as a winger in recent seasons, he showed that he can be a genuine attacking threat from the left flank following Lambert's arrival.

Played instinctively, cutting inside and driving towards goal.

Scored four in Lambert's first four games before netting a scruffy winner against Wigan. The best, though, was undoubtedly his thunderbolt strike at Villa Park as he found the top corner.

His season was ended two games later when he suffered a knee ligament injury at Norwich.

Hoping to return before Christmas, which would give Town a real boost.

Starts: 23 Sub: 3 Mins: 2,017 Goals: 6

Grade: B-

Grant Ward suffered a knee injury at QPR.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMGrant Ward suffered a knee injury at QPR. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Grant Ward

Like Sears, Ward ended the campaign in the treatment room with a knee ligament injury.

Before his season was ended at Loftus Road on Boxing Day, the winger took his time to convince Hurst he was worthy of a start. When he did get a regular run in the side, he was one of the Blues' most consistent performers during the course of late September and October.

Lacked that consistency under Lambert and started just twice following his arrival.

Out of contract but currently undergoing rehab at Playford Road.

Starts: 12 Sub: 3 Mins: 999 Goals: 6

Grade: C-

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