Skuse: Talks On Future Under Way
Thursday, 13th Feb 2020 17:38
Cole Skuse has revealed that talks about his future in football are already under way with the Town hierarchy and could lead to him continuing as a player and then taking up a new, as-yet unspecified role at Portman Road.
The experienced midfielder’s current contract is due to expire in the summer. The club have a one-year option on his services that they could trigger, but preliminary discussions would appear to indicate Skuse is being considered for a future beyond 2021.
Skuse will be 34 next month and has made 578 appearances in all competitions, 271 of them for Ipswich after then boss Mick McCarthy signed him in the summer of 2013 following his rejection of a new deal with home town club Bristol City, where he originally joined the academy and signed full professional forms in 2004.
But there is nothing more guaranteed to spark a conversation than to question how long Skuse is likely to continue playing. “That’s not even a question that should be asked,” he said. “I’ve said it in the past and I’ll say it again now – age is just a number.
“It doesn’t get my back up – well it does to a degree – that people tar all 33 or 34-year-olds with the same brush. I don’t have a long injury list, I live my life right, I don’t drink, I have a good diet and if you look at my running stats now, compared to when I was 27, they are still the same. Age is just a number in my mind.
“Chambo has said the same and if you were to look at the stats we can prove it. There are all sorts of running stats available these days and they are indisputable.
“Look at my injury record and it’s almost non-existent. I have missed hardly any games since I came to Ipswich. I’m more than ready and capable of playing as many games as required.
“Will I be here next season? That’s a question I have been asked a few times in the past and I’m still here. We’re all settled here as a family – that’s my wife and three children – and I’d be happy to stay.
“We recently bought a place in Ipswich that we are renovating and the kids are very settled in schools, so if I was offered a contract here I’d love to stay.
“I have sat down with Marcus [Evans] and also with Lee [O’Neill], and that’s as far as we have got so far. The talks have not progressed beyond that stage yet.
“They have expressed an interest in keeping me at the club in a playing capacity and also after my playing days are over, which is very flattering to hear and something I’d love to take up because we love the place.
“We’ve loved the club since we’ve been here so when the talks progress a bit further down the line and things are ironed out it could be successful for all parties.”
Asked if any new deal depended on whether Town would be playing again in League One or in the Championship, Skuse replied: “I don’t know if that’s in their thinking. Like I said, they have spoken to me and expressed their interest in terms of keeping me at the club, not just in a playing capacity but in an off-the-field capacity as well. That’s a question you would have to ask Marcus and Lee, I guess.
“In any working environment, not just football, you need to know what’s happening. But it’s not my decision to make. They have their side of things to think about and I have mine, so when things come to fruition and are ironed out I am sure it will be nice for all parties.
“There will come a point when I need to know. I have three young children who are settled here, whether it be in school or nursery. I’ve got an option year and they are required to let me know by a certain date if they are going to exercise their right.
“Whether we are going to go down that route, I don’t know, but I don’t think the option year will be the thing. I think we are going to be discussing a new contract that will be for a playing role and then a life-after-football role but they haven’t given me idea how long it will be.
“I’ve had a chat with Marcus, I’ve had a chat with Lee and no one is hiding away from anything. It has been spoken about and they have said they want to talk again at a later stage, a bit closer to the end of the season, and then we’ll go from there.”
Skuse has never made any secret of his desire to stay in the game after hanging up his boots and has even expressed a desire to team up with close pal Luke Chambers with the Town skipper in the role of manager and vice-captain Skuse preferring to concentrate on the coaching side.
He added: “When I talk about work off the field, whether it’s coaching or stuff in the community or on match days, it’s something we – that’s me, Marcus, Lee and the manager – have spoken about. I’m doing my badges and some work with Woodbridge Town at the minute.
“I’ve decided to do that away from this club because I wanted to get out of the Ipswich environment and do the work with a local club. I want to get the coaching badges ticked off. I can do it alongside playing but it’s not at the forefront of my mind right now.
“I do feel more than capable of continuing to play and I want to do that for as long as I can. But, yes, it could be done alongside playing, although my main focus is on being a footballer for the foreseeable future.”
Skuse recently spent some time on the substitute’s bench and was asked if it felt strange, given the number of games he has started for Town.
“It was and it wasn’t,” he said. “It wasn’t strange because I got a neck injury in the Boxing Day game against Gillingham. I had an issue with one of the discs, which was why I didn’t play in the next two games.
“The lads did well to get a draw at Wycombe, who were the league leaders at the time, so I couldn’t be knocking on the gaffer’s door saying I should be back in the team.
“You need to understand the situation, be patient and bide your time, which is what I did. I waited my turn and got back into the side when the manager decided that was the right thing to do and I feel as if I’ve done okay in the last few games.”
Town take on Burton Albion on Saturday at Portman Road and Skuse agreed it could be like so many of the clubs’ five previous clashes in the past three and a half years, when there was little to choose between them. He said: “It’s true that our games against Burton always seem to be tight affairs, whether in the Championship or League One.
“On the first day of the season we beat them 1-0 but it was very close. They are a well-drilled side and [manager] Nigel [Clough] has done a very good job in his times there. He gets them very well organised and I’m sure it will be another tough one on Saturday.
“We’re going to have to do a bit more than we did against Wimbledon on Tuesday if we’re going to break them down. There’s also talk of Storm Dennis coming in from the Atlantic and that could well play a part in the game. We could well have to battle the elements as well as Burton’s tactical side of things.
“You have to take that into account but maybe not so much in our stadium with its big stands. It tends to happen when you play at smaller grounds, where the wind can break in from the sides and play a huge part. Or a three-sided stadium like Oxford’s – that was a night like I’d never experienced before.”
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