It has a nasty taste of Groundhog Day.

The closing months of last season at Ipswich Town were all too dominated by the contract sagas of David Norris, Gareth McAuley and many, too many, youngsters.

Fairly new to the job, Paul Jewell got fed up with the constant questions but in truth, those assembling in the weekly press conference were probably equally bored of asking the same questions week-in, week-out.

In the end, a disappointed Norris left for divisional rivals Portsmouth while McAuley chanced his arm in the Premier League with West Brom.


Along with them, a plethora of promising youngsters left with Jewell largely feeling their footballing education would be better served elsewhere while he scanned the bargain bins, free transfers and loan market for experienced first team players.

Now it seems the murky subject is rearing its head once again with another 16 players are out of contract next summer:

They are: Carlos Edwards, Ibrahima Sonko, Ivar Ingimarsson, Mark Kennedy, Tommy Smith, Jack Ainsley (his contract runs out in December 2011), Shane O'Connor, Grant Leadbitter, Lee Bowyer (option of a second year), Josh Carson, Luke Hyam, Colin Healy, Jamie Griffiths (Dec 2011), Jason Scotland, Tamas Priskin, Ronan Murray.

But before everyone starts panicking again, the situation is a little less clear-cut.

The likes of Ibrahima Sonko, Ivar Ingimarsson and Lee Bowyer were rightly given a one-year deal. Their future won't - and shouldn't - be decided until we all see how they get through the rigours of a Championship season. Sonko seems the likely to earn a new deal at present, but that could all change very quickly.

For others, I'm thinking about Colin Healy, Shane O'Connor and maybe even Mark Kennedy and Luke Hyam, it might depend on what league Town ply their trade in next season. 

As Jewell says, his decisions will be dictated by performances with many clubs now taking a look at how Scotland does while one hopes Josh Carson can start replicating the kind of performances he showed at the back end of last season. 

As with Carlos Edwards, you hope skipper Grant Leadbitter continues to perform as he has in recent weeks and earns himself a decent contract  - something he is adamant that he wants after his manager felt he was initially "unsettled" by transfer speculation.

The opening salvo might be that the captain has rejected a deal, but in truth it is merely the start of bartering that is likely to go back and forth for a number of weeks and maybe months.

But when it comes down to it, Jewell will have a clear idea who is worth what (though, as I said, that can change over the course of a season).

A canny operator, the Town boss keeps a shrewd eye on contracts and agents - a reason that so many players have been lured to Suffolk in recent months.

I believe that in the case of Norris, he felt the then-club captain was worth keeping, but not worth a three-year deal. That is something that has divided fans but for what its worth, it was the right decision for me. For one, Norris is 30 years old (five older than Leadbitter).

McAuley is a slightly different one. I have heard stories that he was desperate to stay with Town but just wanted pay parity. Personally I think the lure of one shot at the big time was too good to turn down.

Jewell will look at every single one of the 16 and judge them on their own merits. Leadbitter, for instance, might be viewed as being worth a three-year deal but on wages that don't break the bank.

Then it is up to every player to decide how much they want to stay with the Blues.

* Who do you think is worth keeping beyond this season? Should Leadbitter stay or go? Let me know your thoughts below