Downes and Woolfenden are rightly attracting attention... so promotion’s vital if the Blues want to keep hold of their crown jewels
PUBLISHED: 16:19 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 03 December 2019
If you were to write a list of positives to have emerged from Ipswich Town’s start to the 2019/20 season, the further emergence of Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden would be high on it.
We knew what Downes could do, of course. He burst onto the scene under Mick McCarthy in the summer of 2017 and, while there were some bumps in the road as Ipswich battled relegation, it was clear Paul Lambert took a real shine to the youngster once he took over the following October.
He's taken things up a gear, though, becoming a mainstay of the side to the extent that he captained the club for the first time at the weekend.
Woolfenden's talent was also apparent but, while Downes had been forging his way at Portman Road, the defender's path to the first-team has seen him learn his trade away from Suffolk.
Bromley was his first stop, playing 20 games in the National League, before he was sent to Swindon in League Two before Paul Hurst had barely cast an eye over what he was capable of.
He's returned League One-ready and is now a defender who oozes calm, class and control.
Is it any wonder, then, that Fulham and QPR are reported to be keeping an eye on the progress of Ipswich's crown jewels? They surely aren't the only clubs to be aware of what the young English duo are doing.
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Further interest is inevitable.
Whether anything concrete comes in January, with Ipswich in the thick of a promotion challenge, remains to be seen. If it does, owner Marcus Evans' resolve will be tested. You would hope the high-stakes involved in this promotion push would mean the Blues would stand firm, with no reason for either owner or manager to want to sell their best players.
Both young men are contracted until 2022, with Ipswich holding the option to extend their deals for a further year on top of that, but how long they ultimately stay at their boyhood club surely depends on how Ipswich progress.
Promotion at the first time of asking is vital for the club in so many ways. Ask Leeds, Nottingham Forest or the two Sheffield clubs of the perils that come with more than one year in the third tier.
Keeping hold of Woolfenden and Downes is another of those - they're not going to be playing third-tier football for long, that's for sure.
Promotion offers the best chance of holding onto the prized pair and would also maximise any potential fee if and when they do ultimately move on.
Downes and Woolfenden have bright futures and there's every reason to believe that can be with Ipswich.
But their futures are just another factor in play in what promises to be an exciting second half to the season.