Ipswich Town: Kieran McKenna speaks on side’s squad depth with competition at centre-back and return of Wes Burns from injury
Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna has spoken on his side’s squad depth including competition at centre-back and the return of Wes Burns from injury.
The Tractor Boys have played five games in quick succession since Wednesday, October 25, and face Swansea City tomorrow at Portman Road before another international break.
After the signing of Axel Tuanzebe in September, the club have monitored the former Manchester United player’s return from injury and he played the full 90 minutes in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Rotherham.
It means he becomes another option at the heart of McKenna’s backline with the likes of Luke Woolfenden, Cameron Burgess, George Edmundson and Elkan Baggott also available.
The Blues boss said: “We’ve got great options there now I have to say and that’s where we need to be all over the pitch to be honest, to be competing at the level we’re competing at.
“We want to have those options and that strength in every area. Axel is still building his way up but he’s now, you could say fit, and he’s getting stronger.
“Luke and Cameron, who have played most of the games in the league, both have performed really well, George has performed well this season and Elkan of course underneath that, has been excellent when he’s had his opportunity.
“We’re in a really strong position in those areas and we’re going to need that over the course of the season and it’s a good marker for where we want to get to.”
After weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, winger Wes Burns is available for some minutes on Saturday, while fellow Welshman Nathan Broadhead has trained having been ill in midweek.
Brandon Williams missed last week’s game at Birmingham having also been unwell before returning to the bench at Rotherham on Tuesday and McKenna says there is still some illness among the squad.
“We still have a little bit of sickness knocking about in the camp. Nathan Broadhead trained today so that was positive,” he said.
“Wes is now training with the group, he’s come through all fine, recovered well and he’s available for some minutes tomorrow so that’s a positive and we’re going into the weekend in a pretty good place.”
Despite sitting second in the table, Town have shipped two goals in each of their last three league matches and 13 in their seven home fixtures, a figure surpassed only by QPR who sit 23rd in the table.
Asked on the number of goals his side have conceded, McKenna said: “We analyse everything and we certainly want to be a positive, aggressive team and that means that at times you have to defend big spaces if you want to be aggressive against the ball.”
“But we never take any goal that we concede lightly and we never just accept that we're going to concede. We want to keep a clean sheet in every game, that's the base, but we've conceded a few more goals than we would have wanted. We’ve scored four more goals than anyone else in the division.
“Not everything's going to go well all the time. I think before last Saturday we’d conceded two goals in seven away games, then we conceded two goals twice in two away games - an own goal, a wonder strike in the 91st minute.
“Birmingham's first goal had a big slice of fortune really with a mishit shot and we got caught cold in the goal in the first minute (at Rotherham).
“Sometimes things just happen. We had it last season and sometimes you go through spells where teams shoot and things fly in the top corner or take deflections, or own goals go in.
“And then you have other spells where we've had great runs of clean sheets and the ball doesn’t go in our net for eight or nine games and if you asked what we were doing differently in those spells, the answer would be probably not very much.
“We're operating at a higher level with better players and better opposition and we're still trying to play a very brave style, so we're probably going to concede more goals than we did in League One.
“Sometimes these things come in cycles and we look to go into the next game as we do every game, trying to be really good on and off the ball and keep a clean sheet and score more goals than them.”
Saturday’s opposition Swansea, currently sit 14th in the table but come into the game off the back of a good run of results under manager Micheal Duff.
McKenna said: “They’re in pretty good form, in their last eight games they’ve won five and had a draw as well.
“I’m sure Michael feels like he’s starting to get his imprint on the team, and they’re certainly working very hard and look organised. They’ve got some really good players as well, so we know it’s going to be another really tough game.
“They changed shape probably about eight games ago, and since then their football has been really good and they have been pretty consistent with their selection.
“They know us well, we know they’ve been consistent with what they're doing, and both teams are going to try and put their plan on the pitch.
“It’s going to be another really good battle and it’s going to be hard fought I’m sure.”
Kieran McKenna and keeper Vaclav Hladky missed out on the Sky Bet Championship Manager and Player of the Month awards for October, with the awards going instead to Leicester boss Enzo Maresca and Leeds forward Crysencio Summerville.