As always with this time of year, fans start trying to guess who their team will sign over the summer.
Over the last month, I have heard various Ipswich fans mention about twenty to thirty different players who they think Town will sign. You can’t really blame fans for getting drawn into all of the speculation though because what else is there to get excited about for a team that has slowly been in decline over the last ten years?
It is clear that the Ipswich team could really do with five or six key players to be brought in and it is also clear that big name signings probably aren’t on the cards. However, it will be good to see Paul Jewell and his scouting team, search through the lower leagues for players with a strong desire to achieve as well as the talent to go with it.
Obviously some are more likely to actually join than others as I can’t see Ipswich splashing out millions on the likes of Jordan Rhodes, especially with the financial fair play rules being introduced. There is no harm in looking over the more likely options and joining in with the guessing games though, which is exactly what I am about to do.
First of all, Jewell has made it obvious that he wants a goalkeeper. The names that have popped up the most have been Tomasz Kuszczak, Colin Doyle and Kieran Westwood. A more obscure possibility would be signing Torquay goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik who was named in the PFA league two team of the year, but this is unlikely as he has just signed a new two year contract.
I think Kuszczak is the least likely to sign out of those mentioned purely because someone else will offer him more money than Ipswich can. If players like Daryl Murphy are out of Town’s price range in terms of wages then surely Kuszczak is too. It could be a similar situation with Westwood but the bigger problem with him is I don’t think he will be looking to leave Sunderland in the summer; it is more likely that he will try and fight for a place in the starting line up. That leaves us with the possible option of signing Colin Doyle who hasn’t been getting games at Birmingham this season. Whilst he is a realistic signing, there are a few question marks over his ability in comparison to the others that were linked. In summary, if Ipswich were to sign one of the goalkeepers we have been linked with it would be Doyle. It could be good to see Doyle in goal for Town next season though as he would surely relish the chance to play regular football but I don’t think he will be anything special or much better than what we have got, if he does join.
Further up the field plenty of other names have been mentioned such as Paul Green, Dean Marney and Jamie Coppinger. Maybe I am being pessimistic but I don’t think any of those three players would really give the team the boost it needs. Paul Green is a financially attractive option as he is available on a free transfer and the other benefit is he can play in central midfield as well as at right back.
However, we have already seen the effects of not having a fully natural right back and although Green might be good back up for the positions which he can play, he shouldn’t be a key signing. Dean Marney is pretty much identical to Green in terms of what he can offer so he wouldn’t be a very exciting signing but could be useful as back up. At 31 years of age Jamie Coppinger wouldn’t be a popular signing, as fans have already got sick and tired of experienced players being brought to the club and never performing above average. Paul Jewell may well be keeping tabs on all three of those players but it is fair to say that they would be extremely disappointing signings.
Names that fans would be much more excited about would be Stephen Gleeson, Michael Bostwick, Matt Ritchie, Jason Puncheon and maybe even Sammy Clingan. Stephen Gleeson is a young and promising midfielder that could form a formidable partnership with Andy Drury next season. Chances are a lot of other clubs will be hunting Gleeson this summer though, so Town could easily miss out if they don’t act quickly.
Although not included in the league one PFA team of the year, Michael Bostwick has been one of the best midfielders in the division and scored eight goals for Stevenage this season. The chances of signing both Bostwick and Gleeson will be greatly dependent on how their respective teams perform in the league one play-offs, so they could well be worth watching. Swindon have played some great passing football in League Two this season and Matt Ritchie has flourished as a result; consequently winning the League Two Player of the Year Award. Again he is another player who is going to be hunted by a few different teams and could even be persuaded to stay at Swindon, so it doesn’t look like Ipswich would be able to steal him.
Puncheon and Clingan are more likely options for different reasons. Even though Clingan is a former Norwich player and has two relegations to his name, he is a solid central midfielder who has a fantastic work rate. He will most likely leave financially struggling Coventry over the summer and could well be an Ipswich player by September. Puncheon is a player who has a reputation of producing erratic performances and never really finding enough consistency to make a real name for himself. However, the Southampton wide man can play on either wing and would add some useful pace to the Ipswich side if he could find consistency.
In reality, Ipswich are likely to sign at most one or two of the players mentioned above and if I was forced to stick my head out and pick out the most likely ones to sign I would go for Paul Green, Sammy Clingan and Colin Doyle. They might not be the most exiting but they are probably the most realistic options for a club in transition.