Cook to Speak to Players on Monday
Friday, 7th May 2021 11:23
Boss Paul Cook has paid tribute to Stephen Ward, whose departure from Portman Road was confirmed on Wednesday, and says he will speak to the rest of the players about their futures on Monday.
As revealed by TWTD on Tuesday, like Alan Judge, Ward’s contract included a clause which meant he would automatically get an additional year with the Blues if he made a 30th league start, the 35-year-old former Irish international having made 29.
Despite Ward having been given the news that he wouldn’t be staying at the club, he was with the squad at Shrewsbury on Tuesday, which Cook says a lot about his character.
“One hundred per cent,” he said. “Absolutely superb lad, a superb pro, had an outstanding career and been a great player, conducted himself really, really well.
“We had a conversation very similar to the conversation I had with Judgey [Alan Judge], again another lad who is no different to Stephen.
“And just as men, we spoke about the future and the reality for Stephen would be that his future wouldn’t be here. So, we mutually made that decision.
“Stephen has been brilliant, absolutely brilliant and not just at the game the other night, he’ll be at the game again on Sunday, and he’ll finish the season like the true professional he is and obviously with my best wishes and our best wishes as a football club.”
Asked whether he can say anything yet about any other players who are leaving with 19 out of contract* and not having had their futures already confirmed, he responded: “It would be easier to say who’s staying, that’s for sure.”
But the players must have a fair idea? “As you can imagine guys [the media], I understand you have a job to do, and as we’ve come this far, we’ve got to conduct ourselves as well as we can.
“We’re actually talking about people’s livelihoods here, we’re talking about families and children and kids in schools, and it isn’t a joking matter, it’s a very serious matter.
“Football is a serious business, so whilst I am trying to be a little bit tongue in cheek, the reality is we’re all hurting inside, aren’t we? We’re not going to be in the play-offs, we’re not going to be successful and that has to hurt.
“That will come to the table on Monday when we speak to all the players individually regarding what’s gone on, what’s going to go on with the future of the club. And the future of the club is the most important thing.
“For managers today, the results-driven business is there for everyone to see. We don’t last long anymore, we can talk as much as we want, we can do what we want.
“For players, being successful at clubs is absolutely huge. Players can be passing ships in the night now.
“We’ve got to put a squad together for next year and that will include some lads who are here and it will include some new arrivals.
“But certainly one the town and the supporters and the new ownership can be proud and happy with. But at the minute that’s probably a long way from where we are.”
Asked whether it's been a conscious decision to field players who are in most cases will still be in contract in the last couple of games, Cook wouldn't be drawn into commenting.
“Again guys, I’m going to do my best not to debate players,” he said. “There’s no point for me.
“I actually enjoyed watching the last two games. Within that, we did our best to try and throw the Swinson result away. We tried our hardest and that’s something we have as a group.
“We’re in control of a game that we should be winning four or five-nil if you like, and we end up hanging on at 2-1. That’s not correct, and then going on to Shrewsbury.
“We’ve got so much work to do as staff as a football club, we know the work ahead, we know the summer’s going to bring long hours at the club for recruitment, for people for myself.
“We know the challenges of football, so I don’t really look back on anything this season, to be quite honest, with any type of feeling that is proud or good.
“I just feel a sense of underachievement by everyone, and that includes myself.”
*Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws, Freddie Sears, Kayden Jackson, Teddy Bishop, Toto Nsiala, Janoi Donacien, James Wilson, Gwion Edwards, Aaron Drinan, Tristan Nydam, Ben Morris, Idris El Mizouni, Liam Gibbs, Bailey Clements, Levi Andoh, Bert White and Tommy Hughes.
Town have previously confirmed they have options to keep Skuse, Sears, Bishop, Nsiala, Donacien, Wilson, Nydam, Morris, El Mizouni, Clements, Andoh, White and Hughes.
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