Reaching the Premier League would be a "phenomenal achievement" for Ipswich Town, according to the architects of the club's last promotion to the top flight in 2000.

On Saturday the Tractor Boys face Huddersfield Town at Portman Road when a draw will be enough to secure a return to the highest division for the first time in 24 years and back-to-back promotions, with coach Kieran McKenna's team having been promoted from League One last season.

And two faces in the crowd at the packed-out stadium will know only too well what the coaches and players will be going through having masterminded Town's successful 1999/2000 season, which culminated in play-off final glory when the Blues beat Barnsley 4-2 at Wembley.

East Anglian Daily Times: Former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, who helped mastermind the club's 2000 promotion successFormer Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, who helped mastermind the club's 2000 promotion success (Image: Archant)David Sheepshanks and George Burley were chairman and manager respectively at the time and heaped praise on the current team, as well as chief executive Mark Ashton, for creating a strong squad and a sense of togetherness that has propelled them to the brink of promotion.

Burley said he felt Town had a strong side for League One last season after McKenna's predecessor as manager, Paul Cook, had brought in a number of players.

However, he noted that this season the Tractor Boys have had to compete with three big clubs relegated from the Premier League in Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton.

East Anglian Daily Times: George Burley highlighted the progress made by winger Omari HutchinsonGeorge Burley highlighted the progress made by winger Omari Hutchinson (Image: Ross Halls)Burley said: "They have done fantastic. Kieran McKenna has improved the players. A lot of them were League One players and they have been in the top three all season.

"Kieran has worked with the players and you can see how much they have improved this season, so it has been a great performance."

He highlighted the progress of wingers Omari Hutchinson and Wes Burns, as well as defender Cameron Burgess, adding that young players were enjoyable to work with because they can 'improve so quickly'.

"Any promotion is very difficult. You need the players, you need the support and financial help as well. It is not one little factor, but it would be a phenomenal achievement," Burley said.

Sheepshanks said he was "every bit as excited" as every other Ipswich Town fan ahead of the game, but did not want to "tempt fate" as there was still a "job to do" with the all-but-relegated Terriers seeking to finish their season on a high.

He did not expect the game to pan out as the game against Exeter City last season, when Town went up to the Championship with a thumping 6-0 win, having been five up after 32 minutes, adding that the Huddersfield game would be "another level".

Sheepshanks said: "I always believed Kieran McKenna and his players would execute at a higher level, but I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams thought we would be where we are.

"It is a testament to him, his players and coaches, the whole club.

"It is a team game and running a football club is not going to be a success unless all the moving parts are performing to their best and that is very largely what has happened this season and we can be hugely proud of what has happened to our club."

Striker Marcus Stewart was a particular fan favourite when Ipswich were promoted in 2000 as his goals were crucial in securing top flight football and he went on to score 19 goals during the 2000/01 season when Town finished fifth and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

East Anglian Daily Times: Marcus Stewart is confident the Blues can get the job doneMarcus Stewart is confident the Blues can get the job done (Image: ITFC)

He said Ashton had improved the fan experience and "tidied the stadium up" while his decision to appoint McKenna had paid off. 

"It was a big risk, but it is probably the best risk they have taken ever as a club. Kieran's come in and Mark has come in and they have taken the club forward," he said.

He could see parallels between the current team and the 2000 side, especially in the way they all work hard for each other and there are no "big name" or star players; there is a real team ethic.

Stewart expected the players to experience a mixture of nervousness and excitement ahead of the big game, but once the match starts they will commit only to the task and be in their "workplace".