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Poll: Championship free agents that could be worth a look at Ipswich Town

PUBLISHED: 14:26 09 June 2015 | UPDATED: 14:26 09 June 2015

David McGoldrick under presure from Darren Pratley at Bolton

David McGoldrick under presure from Darren Pratley at Bolton

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Championship clubs have all announced their retained lists ahead of the 2015/16 campaign.

Stuart Watson takes a look at the out-of-contract players from last season’s second tier that could prove to be bargain buys for Ipswich Town.

Lawrie WILSON

Club: Charlton

Status: Free agent

Age: 27

Position: Right-back / right-midfield

Versatile right-sided player was let go by Charlton as a kid, re-established himself in non-league at Stevenage, then signed for Charlton again following their promotion to the Championship in 2012. He was a key player during first two seasons back at The Valley and was named Players’ Player of the Year and runner-up for Player of the Year at the end of the 2013/14 campaign. Change in both managers and ownership saw him restricted to just 10 starts and 14 sub appearances in the league last season though and he admits he leaves on ‘sour’ terms.

Reflecting on his time in south London, he said: “The first season quite a few people didn’t like me, but I’ve always said that once you get to know who I am, the way I am and the effort I put in then you will begin to love me. I managed to change some opinions.”

Jermaine Pennant of Wigan Athletic skips past Martin Olsson of Norwich City during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Richard Calver/Focus Images Ltd +447792 981244
04/03/2015Jermaine Pennant of Wigan Athletic skips past Martin Olsson of Norwich City during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Richard Calver/Focus Images Ltd +447792 981244 04/03/2015

Championship experience (starts/sub): 74 (19)

Lewis BUXTON

Club: Sheffield Wednesday

Status: Free agent

Age: 31

Buxton, pictured right, joined Sheffield Wednesday from Stoke in January 2009 and, after a tough start at Hillsborough, the attack-minded right-back became a fans’ favourite and earned cult status with a terrace chant – ‘the white Cafu’.

Was part of the Owls team that was relegated to League One and then promoted back to the Championship. Injuries have restricted Buxton to just 30 outings in the last two seasons. Since April 2014, the 31-year-old has damaged knee ligament on three occasions.

“I hurt my knee at Bournemouth last season, then in pre-season and again last October,” he said. “It was frustrating and you know when you’re contract is up and you are one of the older players that you’ve got to get the games to get a chance of getting another deal.”

The Sky Bet Championship
Ipswich Town v Leeds United - Portman Road, Ipswich - 6 Dec 2014

Leeds United's Rodolph Austin (left) clears under pressure from Ipswich Town's Teddy BishopThe Sky Bet Championship Ipswich Town v Leeds United - Portman Road, Ipswich - 6 Dec 2014 Leeds United's Rodolph Austin (left) clears under pressure from Ipswich Town's Teddy Bishop

Championship experience: 167 (15)

MIDFIELDERS

John EUSTACE

Club: Derby

Status: In talks regarding new deal

Age: 35

Experienced central midfielder has been sidelined with a knee problem since January. He underwent a cartilage operation soon after the 1-0 victory at Portman Road and needed a second bout of surgery last month to ‘clean up’ the same knee.

Steve McClaren was in talks with Eustace’s agent about a new deal before departing recently. It is uncertain whether new head coach Paul Clement will resume those discussions.

Graham Dorrans of Norwich and Ben Pringle of Rotherham United clash during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
25/04/2015Graham Dorrans of Norwich and Ben Pringle of Rotherham United clash during the Sky Bet Championship match at the New York Stadium, Rotherham Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 25/04/2015

“He is one of those players who is unassuming and just gets on with his job,” said McClaren. “His record when he plays is phenomenal, his win record is unbelievable. The players like him, he is experienced and we did miss that.

“I think you saw in that Ipswich game in January what he brought to the team in those kind of situations and those kinds of matches. Losing him to injury was a huge disappointment.”

Derby won eight and drew four of the 13 matches Eustace started this season just gone. In his 23 League starts under McClaren in 2013-14, Derby won 14, drew six and lost only three.

Championship experience: 254 (49)

Rodolph AUSTIN

Club: Leeds

Status: Free agent

Age: 30

Midfielder was reportedly a target of Town’s midway through last season and is now a free agent following his release by Leeds.

Celtic, Burnley, Birmingham, Bolton, Brighton, Cardiff, Rotherham and Wigan have all been linked with a move.

Austin’s intermediary, Darryl Powell, has confirmed he is speaking to a number of clubs about the player and hopes to have his future resolved soon before he captain’s Jamaica at this summer’s Copa America and Gold Cup.

Doesn’t create many chances or score many goals, but he gets stuck in and has a high number of touches per game. Town have plenty of all-action and combative types in the middle third of the pitch.

Championship experience: 90 (11)

Danny GUTHRIE

Club: Reading

Status: Free agent

Age: 28

Was at both Manchester United and Liverpool as a kid and then made close to 100 appearances for Newcastle. Creative midfielder’s talent not in doubt, but his big wages and injury problems meant he was released by Reading.

Spent the back end of last season on loan at Fulham and didn’t set the world alight at Craven Cottage.

In January, Royals boss Steve Clarke told Guthrie he is too good to be touting himself out on social media after he put his agent’s details and phone number on Twitter. May not tick all the boxes.

Championship experience: 75 (14)

William KVIST

Club: Wigan

Status: Free agent

Age: 30

Experienced Danish midfielder – capped 55 times by his country – has been released by relegated Wigan after just one season at the DW Stadium. He’s played in the Champions League with Copenhagen, in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart (following a £3.5m switch), had a brief spell in the Premier League during a loan spell at Fulham and has played at a World Cup and European Championships.

A calm and steady central midfielder who keeps play ticking over, Kvist may be seen as too similar to Cole Skuse.

Championship experience: 18 (8)

Darren PRATLEY

Club: Bolton

Status: Offered new deal

Age: 30

Former Swansea midfielder is out of contract at Bolton and yet to sign the new deal which is on the table.

Started last season slowly but was playing the best football of his career until a hamstring tear ended his campaign two months early.

Physical, versatile and all-action, the box-to-box midfielder can break up play then carry the ball forward and begin attacks. Regained his goalscoring touch in 2015, scoring four goals in a six-game period.

Several clubs, including Scottish giants Celtic, are said to be interested. Just like Pringle, he undoubtedly fits the bill but wages could be an issue.

Championship experience: 135 (25)

WINGERS

Chris TAYLOR

Club: Blackburn

Status: Free agent

Age: 28

Taylor is primarily a right-winger, but he can play in a central attacking midfield role or on the left – all areas that Town undoubtedly need to strengthen.

A free agent having been in and out of the Blackburn side this season, he did finish the campaign strongly with three goals in the FA Cup, a goal against Brentford in the league and a few important assists along the way.

The ex-Oldham and Millwall man puts in a shift on the flank, something that would certainly appeal to Mick McCarthy. Could prove to be a good replacement for Paul Anderson.

Championship experience: 38 (34)

Ben PRINGLE

Club: Rotherham

Status: Offered new deal

Age: 26

Technically-gifted left-winger, who provides assists from both open play and set-pieces, is a wanted man. Rotherham have offered him a new deal but it looks like he make seek pastures new.

Pringle was released by West Brom as a youngster and rebuilt his career in non-league with the likes of Newcastle Blue Star, Morpeth Town and Ilkeston Town. His switch to Championship outfit Derby didn’t work out and he joined the League Two Millers in 2011, helping earn two promotions to the second tier followed by survival at that level.

Several Championship clubs have been linked with the Newcastle-born player and that could drive 
his wage demands beyond what the Blues are willing to pay.

Championship experience: 43 (17)

Jermaine PENNANT

Club: Wigan

Status: Offered new deal

Age: 32

The ex-Arsenal and Liverpool winger has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons in the past, but insists he is ‘hungry’ to work his way back into the English scene following a recent spell playing for FC Pune City in India.

He spent the last three months of this season at Wigan, scoring three goals for a team that suffered Championship relegation. Was offered a new deal at the DW Stadium but chose to go away on holiday and consider his options.

Winger – who has played for 12 different clubs, was capped 24 times by England’s Under-21s and started a Champions League final – would add a bit of pace and guile to Town’s midfield, but McCarthy would have to be sure that he would fit into his close-knit group.

Championship experience: 43 (6)

STRIKERS

Jermaine BECKFORD

Club: Bolton

Status: Free agent

Age: 31

Ex-Leeds and Everton striker’s career was heading in the wrong direction, but his two stunning goals for Preston in the League One play-off semi-final catapulted him back to prominence recently.

Bolton have been forced to release the high-earner at the end of his deal, with promoted Preston keen to turn his loan into a permanent switch ahead of their first season back at Championship 
level.

The instinctive front man, who has scored more than 150 goals in his career, could yet be tempted by a sentimental return to Elland Road.

His ability to play right on the last shoulder would provide Town’s strike force with a different option.

Championship experience: 61 (38)

Craig MACKAIL-SMITH

Club: Brighton

Status: Free agent

Age: 31

Brighton, looking to rebuild following a disappointing 20th place finish, have decided to release several players – including club record signing Mackail-Smith (£2.5m). The Scottish international started out in non-league and made his name at Peterborough. A hard-working, versatile forward, his non-stop running is effective both out wide and on the last shoulder. Was disappointed with his goal haul of 24 goals in more than 100 appearances for the Seagulls, but his style of play is probably more suited to Ipswich’s high-intensity direct game than Brighton’s passing approach.

Championship experience: 118 (34)

Nicky MAYNARD

Club: Cardiff

Status: Free agent

Age: 28

Pacey striker made his name at Crewe, earned a £2m switch to Bristol City and then scored more than a goal every three games during four years with the Ashton Gate outfit.

A move to West Ham didn’t work out, while injuries restricted him to just six league starts during his three years at Cardiff. He made three starts and seven substitute appearances in the Championship this season and a man who has scored more than 40 goals in his Championship career could be worth a gamble on the right wages.

Championship experience: 117 (30)

Simon CHURCH

Club: Charlton

Status: Free agent

Age: 26

McCarthy spoke glowingly about the Welsh international striker ahead of Town’s trip to Charlton at the end of 2014.

The former Reading striker may not be prolific, but the way he can rough up central defenders, win flick-ons and hold the ball up should not be underestimated.

Like Daryl Murphy, he could be a striker who finds his goal-scoring touch later in his career. Far more than a target man, he can drop into pockets of space and run at defenders.

Would add strength in depth to Town’s front line.

Championship experience: 93 (73)


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