Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has joined Ipswich Town until the end of the season and we are all wondering what kind of impact he will make.
The former Plymouth striker has not come to Suffolk to warm the bench and he will be one of the higher paid players at the club. Once he is fully fit he should be able to hold down a starting position in the side with ease as he is a consistent goalscorer at Championship level. However, the question many are asking is; how will he fit into the side?
From what I have seen and heard of Ebanks-Blake I believe he needs the right type of striker alongside him to get the most out of him. I have my doubts as to whether a front two of Ebanks-Blake and David McGoldrick would work well, it seems far more likely that the new man would benefit from playing alongside Daryl Murphy.
If that is the case, then Mick McCarthy will have some very difficult decisions to make regarding his starting line-up. The Ipswich boss will need to decide whether he is better off dropping McGoldrick to the bench or playing two strikers that might not work well together. Another alternative will be to play all three strikers in a 4-3-3 or possibly rotate the strikers regularly depending on the opposition.
However, Ebanks-Blake won’t be fully fit until the end of January and the obvious decision will be to only use him as a substitute early on anyway.
It would be unfair to expect a lot from the clubs new man in January and February as he been out of action for so long. I am expecting the former Wolves striker to not be at his best until later on in the season.
Obviously it is difficult to know what to expect as a lot will depend on how the player has been looking after himself whilst injured. When a long-term injury hits, some players go off the rails and never get back to their best whilst others bounce back straight away.
Another issue worth addressing is that of the other strikers at the club and the wage structure. It is safe to assume that someone will have to leave the club in order to finance this deal and even if they did not need to, the club would struggle to give all their strikers enough playing time to keep them happy.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Jack Marriott went back out on loan in January and one of the clubs back-up strikers will probably leave permanently. Frank Nouble has been progressing well and has actually forced his way back into the starting line-up of late, so I can’t see him leaving.
The likely option will be to sell Paul Taylor as the former Peterborough man will be on first team wages and has hardly featured at all when he has been available.
Despite any negatives, the great aspect of this deal is that Ebanks-Blake has only been signed until the end of the season. To me it seems like this puts the Tractor Boys in a good position to get the best out of the situation come the end of the season.
If Ebanks-Blake flops completely or gets another long-term injury then we only have to pay him until the end of the season. On the other hand if he hits some good form then the club are in a solid position to retain him for the following season. Everyone involved in this deal deserves a lot of credit because what ever happens it is a win win situation for the club.