Ipswich preparing to fend off bids for starlets Dozzell, Downes and Woolfenden

Fans begin arriving at Portman Rd for the EFL Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Blackburn Rovers at Portman Road, Ipswich, England on 14 January 2017. Photo by Nigel Cole.

Ipswich Town are preparing for a fight to keep hold of the clubs trio of youth prospects, suggested Lee O’Neill, the Suffolk club’s General Manager to the East Anglian Daily Times.

Flynn Downes and Luke Woolfenden a centre half, comfortable on the ball and not easily flustered, are both expected to attract attention this January, whilst Andre Dozzell, son of former Ipswich and Spurs midfielder-cum-striker Jason has courted attention since he first joined the academy set up as a boy.

Dozzell has done well to recover from lengthy injuries early on in his career and is often compared to his father, and, for those with a shorter memory, Keiron Dyer. Dozzell Junior has represented England at all youth levels from U16 to U20, in latter years often alongside Downes (20).  Downes, sometimes regarded as hot-headed but tough-tackling, spent a season on loan at Luton in his second professional season, winning over the Hatters crowd with his style.

Losing Downes would upset the locals at Portman road, especially as he is viewed by many as the successor to current club icon Cole Skuse. However, when you are playing in the third tier of English football it is hard to ignore interest from above. Interest seems firmest in the third of the trio. Woolfenden (21) spent his first professional years on loan at Bromley (20 apps) and then Swindon (32 apps) where his cool-as-a-cucumber style of defending drew many compliments, not least from clubs in the Premier League, although no concrete evidence was revealed. Woolfenden has been a star this season, perhaps unexpectedly on the terraces, it was clear from the offset that Paul Lambert was keen to build around the 6ft 4in central defender.

Whilst Ipswich fans will groan at the suggestion of perhaps losing their assets, it would be hard to resist bids of high value, but as with such transfers nowadays any firm bid would probably consist of add on’s and appearance based clauses.

If bids do come in, fans will be interested to see where the funds end up, with the club linked almost daily to wide men from Coventry’s Shipley, to Crewe’s Kirk, but with manager Paul Lambert already on record with the usual defensive statement of players having to be sold before purchases could be made and Ipswich having one of the largest playing staffs in League One (43 registered players including youth players) some movement is inevitable this January.

Central midfield is most certainly the most ‘well stocked’ area on the staff, with Cole Skuse, Jon Nolan, Alan Judge and Emyr Huws, the more senior players involved at Portman Road contesting with the likes of Dozzell, Downes and the new kids emerging such as Idris El Mizouni and Brett McGavin (son of former Colchester United stalwart Steve.

Pricing young talent is becoming increasingly harder, with clauses and bonuses a common part of any deal, especially for relatively unproven talent. However, money talks, as the saying goes, and Ipswich could be bracing themselves for a January sale frenzy.