Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna was pleased by Ali Al-Hamadi's first Championship start, highlighting how the attacker had progressed since moving to Portman Road in the January transfer window.

The 22-year-old had never played above League One level before the start of the year, joining the Blues from fourth-tier outfit AFC Wimbledon after a hot run of form.

He impressed during brief cameos off the bench, but was yet to start ahead of first-choice striker Kieffer Moore, who scored six goals in his first nine games after returning to Suffolk.

Al-Hamadi was given his first start in today's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough, playing 59 minutes before being replaced by the Wales international. Nonetheless, McKenna was really impressed by what he saw, especially against such a tough team.

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“I thought he was fantastic, I have to say," he said after the game. "I see a group where everyone’s contributing, I see a group where everyone knows their jobs, being fit, ready to play a part. I see players coming off the bench have an impact, and that’s a fantastic place to be.

“Speaking of Ali in particular, I thought it was a terrific performance. We know where he comes from, we know what his journey has been. It’s one thing coming on late in games in the Championship - which he did really well when defenders are tired and he’s shown his aggression, running and hunger.

“But to play in that game, with the tactical level of that game, his pressing was really good, he was disciplined, he was intelligent, some of his dropping down to connect with the no.10’s was really good.

“That shows massive growth in the last few months, because I don’t think he would’ve been capable of that a couple of months ago.

“There’s still loads to come from him, but I think he’s showing he can learn and will learn. For a first start in the Championship against a good team with good centre-halves, I thought it was a really good performance.”