Ipswich Town are already starting to make some major decisions over the futures of some of their players as Paul Cook looks to make changes ahead of his first summer transfer window.
The Tractor Boys have already made the decision not to let Alan Judge feature for them in any of their remaining League One matches so that they avoid triggering a contract clause that would mean he gets an automatic extension to his deal. He is the first of what could be many departures from Portman Road this summer.
Cook has reiterated his desire to shake things up during the summer transfer window and make some much-needed changes to the squad at Ipswich. He has suggested that he wants to bring in a new group of players that the fans can identify with who will be able to help him implement an aggressive, strong and front foot side over the next few years.
Considering those are the qualities that Cook is looking for in his new potential additions, the Tractor Boys have also got be very wary over who they opt to keep hold of in the summer. Stephen Ward is one such player who they will have a difficult decision to make over in terms of whether he is offered a new deal or not.
Ward has recently insisted that he has no plans to stop playing football in the immediate future and that his future at Ipswich will be decided at the end of the campaign.
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The experienced left-back arrived at Ipswich last summer, and in truth has been largely a decent performer for them when he has been named in the starting line-up.
The defender got off to a strong start to his time at Portman Road, but more recently age seems to have caught up with him and he has not been able to offer the same quality as he was doing earlier in the season.
Cook wants to see his full-backs getting up and down the pitch swiftly and being able to get forwards on the overlap frequently and deliver quality in the opposition’s penalty area. A few years ago, Ward would have had more than enough ability and also energy to do that throughout 90 minutes, indeed he has even spent time in his career playing further forwards so could provide good service.
However, with him now at the age of 35, there will be serious questions over whether he is the right sort of option for them to have to fill that kind of role. Cook seems to have liked Ward so far during his short tenure, but he cannot lose sight on the overall bigger picture. Whilst the defender is an excellent professional and would always give his all, that should not overlook his current abilities.
It seems Ipswich should target a more youthful option to start down the left-hand side of their defence and instead of offering Ward a new contract they should look more to the long-term and try and develop a younger player in that position.