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O'Neill: Downes as Committed to Town as He's Always Been
Saturday, 11th Jul 2020 09:37

Town general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill says midfielder Flynn Downes is “as committed to the football club as he’s always been”, despite interest in the midfielder from the likes of West Ham and Crystal Palace.

Downes, 21, and Luke Woolfenden, 21, are the two Town youngsters who attracted most interest during 2019/20 with the Blues believed to have rebuffed offers for the pair during the January transfer window. We understand Leeds targeted Woolfenden and both Palace and the Hammers Downes, who has also been watched by Fulham.

Town want to keep hold of the pair for their 2020/21 League One campaign but both O’Neill and manager Paul Lambert have admitted previously that offers can come in which are too substantial to be turned down.

A fortnight ago Woolfenden, whose progress has also been monitored by QPR and Sheffield United, signed a new deal which ties him to Town until the summer of 2023 with Town having an option for a further season.

Asked whether Downes, who is currently contracted to the summer of 2022 plus a further year, will also get a new deal O’Neill told TWTD: “Flynn’s got two more years and a club option, so he’s got three more seasons with us, so he’s heavily contracted to the club.

“We’re always in conversation with those players and we’ll continue to be in conversation with those players about what that will look like in the future.

“Flynn’s really happy here, he’s itching to get back into training and games, as all the players are really. The way it finished and the way we finished as a club is not what they want going forward so they want to go and make amends and they want to put it right.

“He’s as committed to the football club as he’s always been all the way through his journey.”

Explaining the thinking behind Woolfenden’s new contract, O’Neill added: “It was probably three areas. One, Luke’s had a good season so we’re looking to reward him. Two, we’re trying to protect the investment we’re making into the academy and him.

“And three, should any club, whether the club that you’ve mentioned [Leeds] or any other club wants to buy our player we’re in a situation where we don’t just have to accept the lower bids based on contractual situation or based on the bid itself.

“We’re trying to put ourselves in the best possible situation to keep our better players and protect them for the longer journey.”

O’Neill wouldn’t be drawn on any offers received for the likes of Downes, Woolfenden and fellow youngster Armando Dobra, who TWTD revealed in January had been the subject of a rebuffed £350,000 offer from Brighton. The Albanian U21 call-up signed a new three-year deal with an option for a further season in May.

“I’ve said it before, if my phone wasn’t ringing for some of those players then I’d be a little bit more concerned,” he continued.

“Yes, we have had some enquiries from some clubs about those particular players that you’ve mentioned. Those players have shown that they want to commit to us, so that’s great.

“We’re in a situation where we can do that and we’re fortunate that [owner] Marcus [Evans] has agreed contracts for them, so that protects us in that element and it gives them an opportunity in that we’re investing in them and we can see a pathway in the future for them.

“So, it’s a bit of a win-win situation when that happens, we just get on with it until we see a concrete offer that’s an exceptional offer that the club can’t turn down or we feel that we need to do that to move the player on and bring another player in, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Photo: TWTD

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Bluearmy_81 added 11:13 - Jul 11
Safe to say if he is sold, funds won't be invested in the squad. Cue 'fans' strangely backing the degeneration of the squad by their silence and hence the club... 🤯

TimmyH added 13:03 - Jul 11
Well a true professional would be committed to the club whose currently paying his wages...but will Marcus have the same attitude when a £5M+ offer comes in? Personally will be surprised if he stays as well alongside Woolfenden.

Can't we just off load Dozzell to one of the interested clubs to keep the wolf from the door?

MurcianITCC added 13:57 - Jul 11
Yep, better we spend millions on players and go skint. Have you not noticed what is going on in the world 81?
Your immature and offensive posts and beyond boring now.

Terry_Nutkins added 14:15 - Jul 11
What is wrong with you Bluearmy!? We're likely to lose £15-20million for the financial year based on our normal losses likely to be north of £7 mil in L1 and up to £10mil due to the Covid situation. Funds will be invested in keeping the football company solvent or at least covering a proportion of the huge loss Marcus will make. Imthink anyone even remotely reasoable would say thats fair enough. Marcus has made bad football decisions but financially its his money and he's lost a lot!

When you're bankrolling the club we can all look forward to huge sums spent on players during a global oandemic and the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes, Good one.

Bert added 14:19 - Jul 11
These sort of discussions go on in every club and this year it really will be a waiting game. I see our stay away northern ‘fan’ still has a lot to say even though he/she invests nothing emotionally positive or financially into the club.

Shawsey added 14:49 - Jul 11
Fair to say he will be sold. can't blame him or the club really. We will need to fish around the bargain bucket for a pearl or 2. Wish him well for the future.

ArnieM added 17:44 - Jul 11
.... yer of course he is ! 🙄

Dissboyitfc added 19:20 - Jul 11
whether he is or he isnt! The fact remains if the right offer comes in he will be sold, i just hope we get the right amount for him, sick of selling players too cheaply that then go onto moves involving massive fees!

eddiespearitt03 added 18:57 - Jul 14
Evans needs to unload the players who are just not good enough. That should be the number one priority right now. As we know that will probably not happen. It is fairly certain Evans will sell these young players once they become a bit more valuable. Both players show a lot of promise and potential. Ipswich will be treading water again unless Evans off loads the players who can,t impress even in League One. We need better players at this club to compliment Downes, KV Young, Dobra and Woolfy. Getting Garbutt back at the club is one such player.

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