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Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna on facing 'Premier-League level' Burnley in the Emirates FA Cup fourth-round this weekend





Kieran McKenna says Ipswich Town will enjoy the challenge of facing 'Premier League-level' Burnley in the Emirates FA Cup at Portman Road tomorrow (3pm).

The Sky Bet League One promotion chasers are appearing in the fourth round of the famous old cup competition for the first time since 2010, having got past non-league outfits Bracknell Town and Buxton, and Sky Bet Championship side Rotherham United, so far.

And next up for Ipswich is a clash with Championship leaders Burnley, who will arrive at Portman Road this weekend with a five-point lead at the top and a side who McKenna believes are ready for a return to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Kieran McKenna applauds the Ipswich Town supporters after the third-round win against Rotherham Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kieran McKenna applauds the Ipswich Town supporters after the third-round win against Rotherham Picture: Barry Goodwin

"We're playing against a fantastic team who in my opinion are Premier League-level comfortably," the Town boss said.

"In terms of watching them and the quality of their play and their game model and the quality of the players they've brought in or kept in the squad from the Premier League last year, it's a really high-level team.

"We need to be humble and we need to know the game's not going to go all our way. We need to be ready to defend at times and these are the challenges that we look forward to.

"It's not what we face every week. We're used to being the dominant team in games.

"We'll certainly try and be proactive and aggressive in this game as always, but we know that there's going to be maybe long spells in the game where we're going to have to work really hard against the ball.

"I know that Burnley will have a strong team and I know that our team will be ready to fight with everything as we did in the last round against Rotherham.

"We have to fight and compete to try and show that we're a good team and make it difficult for Burnley and do everything that we can to give ourselves a chance to still be in the hat on Saturday night."

The Tractor Boys are already enjoying their best run in the FA Cup for 13 years, while in terms of victories it is the first time the club have won through three rounds of the competition in the same season since the 1992/93 campaign, when they lost 4-2 at home to Arsenal in the quarter-finals under then manager John Lyall.

A place in the fifth round (last 16) awaits the winners of tomorrow's tie at Portman Road, where McKenna's side are set to be backed by another large home following estimated to pass the 25,000 mark.

"It's a big effort," McKenna said. "It's not included in the season tickets either, so we're grateful and thankful to the supporters for coming out in those sort of numbers to support us.

"I don't think there's many other clubs who are going to have that sort of percentage of capacity for the FA Cup games this weekend anywhere in the country.

"It's a big credit to them and we hope to do it justice and I just hope they enjoy it, to be honest.

"It's a game we all have to enjoy. It's the first fourth-round game at Portman Road for many years, so we just have to enjoy the occasion.

"We want to be bringing big clubs and good teams to Portman Road, both in the league and in the cup competitions, and the only way we're going to do that is by keep progressing and improving the team and winning matches.

"This game is a reward for getting through the tricky early rounds and of course beating Rotherham in the last round.

"It's a fantastic competition and it would be a dream to go even further, but we can only look at the next game with excitement, with humility, and do everything we can."