Former Bristol City midfielder Joe Morrell has rejected the chance to join Mark Ashton and Paul Cook’s radical overhaul of the Ipswich Town first-team squad and has instead signed for League One rivals Portsmouth. On Monday morning, Morrell appeared close to sealing his switch to the south coast from Luton Town having moved to Kenilworth Road last October from City. But late intervention from Ipswich, which included a greater financial package for the Wales international, threatened to change the 24-year-old’s mind who had been committed to leaving Luton due to a lack of first-team opportunities in his debut campaign. However, the chance to work alongside Danny Cowley again – after Morrell previously spent time on loan at Lincoln under his management – and the prospect of regular minutes as a starter for Pompey, meant he was willing to accept the financial hit and sign a three-year contract at Fratton Park.
“Joe will bring a really infectious energy and enthusiasm to our team,” Cowley said. “He’s the type of boy that’s always the first to get the footballs out in training and as a coach, he’s the kind of person you look forward to seeing in the morning. “We first signed him on loan from Bristol City when we were at Lincoln and he transformed our team. “It was great to watch him in the Euros over the summer and he’s a really talented player, who will offer calmness on the ball. He’s willing to pick the ball up anywhere on the pitch and is always so brave because there’s trust in his own ability. “Joe brings with him a real tenacity against the ball and although he’s small, he’s spiky. I think the supporters will enjoy watching him.”
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Morrell joined City as a schoolboy, having rejected the chance to be part of Liverpool’s academy, and made his Robins debut when he was just 16, and was understandably earmarked as a future star for the club. However, he made just six first-team appearances before leaving permanently last year due to the sheer number of central midfielders at the club with Ashton negotiating his sale to Championship Luton. Ipswich have signed 12 players permanently with three loan arrivals since Ashton took over as CEO at the start of June, with 23 leaving the club either on free transfers or through player sales.