THE here and now is about one thing and one thing only – Championship survival.

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But Mick McCarthy already has one eye on a frantic summer of transfer activity in a changing footballing landscape.

Ahead of his first pre-season at Portman Road, the manager will look to combine deciding on current players, both permanent and loan, with utilising a scenario that he thinks will now benefit the clubs rather than the players.

McCarthy predicts the transfer market this summer will be swamped by free transfers with players accepting they will have no choice but to take less money.

Competition will be fierce, but the Town boss will hope his Ipswich vision, alongside the facilities at the club, will put him in the box seat.

He explained: “It is not going to be easy for players in the summer with the Financial Fair Play. I can see it already coming.

“There are a hell of a lot of players coming out of contract this summer all around the country at different clubs. There will be players who let contracts run out, but they won’t get clubs. The tide is changing.

“It gives us an opportunity and an advantage – it is not just carte blanche for the players.”

McCarthy is clearly planning for a busy summer, but first he must decide on the future of loan players like Bradley Orr and also those coming to the end of their current contracts – a list headed by Lee Martin, Carlos Edwards and Andy Drury.

But in a message that will disappoint the trio, who have all told this newspaper that they want to stay at Portman Road, McCarthy continues to be in no rush to offer new deals.

He said: “If we are safe with a whole clatter of games to go, we might start talking about that. It also gives me the opportunity to have a clean slate and start again.

“I have been in this business long enough that if you start giving players new contracts now and someone says ‘I’m here for the next three years’, they don’t run around as much as they did.

“I have experienced that, though I’m not saying these players would do that.”

With the likes of Martin close to the end of their contract, rival clubs might be eyeing a cheeky bid before the January transfer window closes.

But in typical fashion, McCarthy’s message was loud and clear.

“They are not going to be sold, they are going to stay here,” reflected the Blues boss.

“I’m quite happy to let them run out. We will negotiate with them for new contracts when the time comes.”

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