PAUL Jewell must decide whether to be cruel to be kind over the future of Jason Scotland.
The striker is just two starts away from activating a clause in his contract which would give him another year at Town on the same wages.
But as part of an overall cost-cutting exercise at Portman Road and in football as a whole, Jewell must be seriously considering whether to resist picking Scotland in the remaining 10 matches.
It is not that the manager wants to simply ship Scotland out.
Far from it. Jewell has often praised the attitude of the 33-yearold, whether he has been in or out of the team – the former Trinidad and
Tobago international is a good person to have around the place.
But Jewell could privately view being cruel to Scotland, by not picking him, might in turn be kind to Town’s finances.
The Blues boss is acutely aware of “cutting the cloth accordingly”, in his own words, and there appears to be no justification for giving Scotland two more starts and then having to pay a veteran striker the same money next year – especially when he could be nothing more than a decent squad player.
As predicted, Lee Martin was brought back in for Scotland in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Peterborough while Nathan Ellington must be chomping at the bit on the sidelines if anything should befall Michael Chopra.
Publicly, Jewell has said he would never let Scotland’s contract situation dictate his team selection. But with the matches ticking down and with a mid-table finish expected, both manager and player face some tough decisions.
Sources close to Scotland have suggested that he might be offered a new deal by Ipswich – but on significantly reduced wages.
This was the situation his good pal Carlos Edwards was faced with and the current captain opted to remain in Suffolk.
Scotland, who has scored six times in 18 starts,, is happy at the club but is facing arguably his last big contract before retiring from the game so will have to weigh up his options carefully.
Most Town fans would be happy to see him remain part of Jewell’s plans for next season – but a new, younger striker remains a priority.
Jewell’s hand was already dealt when it came to the intricacies of Scotland’s contract – after the striker signed five months before the manager arrived.
Now the Town boss must carefully weigh up what to do in the next 10 matches. He might have no choice but to leave Scotland a frustrated figure on the sidelines.