CambsIron predicts which players will stay and which will go, in what is set to be a busy summer for Iron boss Graham Alexander at Glanford Park.
The hard work begins now….. As the dust settles following the Iron’s disappointing play-off defeat on Sunday the attention of the players and fans alike turns to next season’s squad and the all important retained list.
In seasons’ gone by there has perhaps been one or at the most two players where it has been worth debating as to whether the club should offer new deals. However, this Summer sees that number more than triple. This a problem of the club’s own making for the most part given the chairman’s well publicised stance on contract talks. In addition, Alexander needs to consider the likelihood of players accepting new contracts and perhaps making some under contract players available for transfer with some areas of the squad looking stale.
Most would agree that Alexander finished the season with a reasonably well balanced squad, with centre back cover being the key area of concern (in terms of numbers). Maintaining this balance and improving the quality of the personnel in key positions will be a big challenge moving forward…
Luke Daniels (Out of contract – OoC) has proved himself to be one of the top keepers in League 1 and could without doubt play at a higher level. Accordingly, sorting out an appropriate contract for the ex-WBA stopper should be a top priority, indeed, it is bizarre that his contract has been allowed to run down regardless of the Iron’s promotion aspirations this term.
Notwithstanding, the Iron’s aspirations it has to be acknowledged that bigger clubs with more lucrative contract offers will come calling for Daniels so it is highly questionable as to whether he will be at GP next season.
Joe Anyon (OoC) has been a reliable understudy during his spell at the club and has got his career back following time out of the game, however, the arrival of the promising and more youthful Rory Watson in January makes it unlikely that Anyon will be retained.
Murray Wallace and Connor Townsend are the only first team regulars under contract in the defensive department, leaving it with a thread bare look. The predicament worsens when taking into account the form of Townsend since his return from injury in the closing months of the season.
Charlie Goode (OoC) demonstrated that he can provide adequate cover during his extended stints in the first team this season and is probably worth a new deal (subject to injury) when his age is also taken into account. The same can be said for Jordan Clarke (OoC) who has improved demonstrably in past 12 months and he should be retained as first choice right back. After that it starts to get more complicated,
David Mirfin (OoC) a veteran of two previous successful promotion campaigns is rightly a club legend and excelled in the first leg of the play-offs but does he really represent the future? The Iron’s defensive record was bang average this term, perhaps the time is right to upgrade Mirfin (with a heavy heart) if Alexander has an attainable and quality/ more mobile target in mind.
Scott Wiseman’s (OoC) Scunthorpe career has finally taken off this season, but if Clarke is retained surely he will move on to seek more regular first team action.
Alongside Luke Daniels, Stephen Dawson’s (OoC) contract situation is perhaps the most concerning for fans. Dawson needs to stay, he is the driving force and inspirational leader of the team. Like Mirfin, but to a lesser degree, Neal Bishop (OoC) has proven himself to be a loyal and effective fans favourite who never gives less than 100% on the pitch. However, Bishop looked leggy and out of sorts in the Spring of discontent and he was the only player to speak out about contracts in January, accordingly, it’s highly likely he will be on his way this Summer.
The likely departure of Bishop and the return of the excellent Matt Crooks to parent club Rangers leaves Alexander short in centre midfield, accordingly, I expect the technically astute Jamie Ness (OoC) to be offered another year. A deal for Ness though is by no means a formality as he will be seeking first team assurances for 2017/18 having never really held down a place in the first team for a full season during his time at the club to date.
Attacking Midfield/Wide men:
This area of the pitch should not cause Alexander too many headaches with all men under contract for next season. Whilst not a key matter to attend to there are still question marks against Hakeeb Adelakun and Luke Williams. Alexander publicly criticised the mercurial Adelakun in March and he may feel it’s time to cut his losses given his apparent concerns. Luke Williams needs to find fitness and a home in the match day squad next season, does an Alexander team have a place for an attacking central midfielder?
Despite his goal drought and some criticism from the terraces it would be a hammer blow if the club cashed in on Josh Morris. The vital statistics show that the team are reliant on Morris, replacing his goals and supply line would take at least two successful new signings. The safe option is to resist a cash injection and subsequent transfer gambles to replace him.
For all of his moments of genius and his improved physicality Kevin Van Veen is still highly inconsistent in terms of application and work rate. Van Veen was given 18 months to settle in at GP with this season touted as his big break though opportunity. In flashes the big Dutchman has delivered, but ultimately has there been enough output for Alexander to invest trust in Van Veen as his No.1 striker for next season? If there was any substance in the claimed foreign interest in Van Veen is now the time to show him the door?
Despite his poor form in the closing month of the season Paddy Madden has been key player ever since his big money arrival and his record shows that he is a proven goalscorer at League 1 level. It should also be noted that Madden has an excellent attitude and Alexander likes his ability to play out wide if called upon. Providing Madden is fully fit he will still be a key player next season.
Tom Hopper (OoC) offers something different to Van Veen and Madden, and there should be more to come from him in the years to come, it would be a surprise if he wasn’t offered new terms at GP. Given his similar attributes to Hopper and time away on loan this season Kyle Wootton (OoC) is likely to leave GP in Summer. The talented Wootton need look no further than Matt Godden for inspiration moving forward.
Notwithstanding the above expect some new arrivals in the now stale looking striker department.
Potential Squad – 17/18 Season Goalkeeper: Daniels (Contract TBC), Watson. Full Backs: Clarke (Contract TBC), Townsend, Sutton (Contract TBC), +one. Centre Backs: Wallace, Goode (Contract TBC), +one, +one. Centre Midfield: Dawson (Contract TBC), Mantom, Ness (Contract TBC), +one Attacking Midfield: Morris, Holmes, Williams, Adelakun Strikers: Madden, Hopper (Contract TBC), +one, +one