Ipswich Town defender Harry Clarke believes 'genius' manager Kieran McKenna is 'destined for great things'.

Career coach McKenna left his role as Manchester United assistant manager in December 2021 to take charge of an Ipswich side midtable in League One.

The 37-year-old has led the Blues to back-to-back automatic promotions into the Premier League, with 194 points and 193 goals registered over his remarkable first two full seasons as a senior boss.

"He's an absolute genius, honestly," said Clarke, speaking to BBC Suffolk.

"I'll be the first one to design his statue outside the stadium! He's absolutely incredible. He's the main reason I came back. Working under him has been a pleasure.

"He's destined for great things, whether that be here or another big club. Hopefully he stays, I'm sure he will. With him the sky's the limit."

Ipswich-born Clarke came through his hometown club's academy before leaving to join Arsenal at the age of 14. He returned to Portman Road in a £1.5m deal in January 2023 and has tasted defeat just four times in 41 league starts.

"Never did I think after 18 months of being here I'd be in the Premier League," said the emotional 23-year-old, whose 'tears ran out' soon after promotion was confirmed before going on to enjoy several days of partying.

East Anglian Daily Times: Harry Clarke is held aloft during a pitch invasion as Ipswich Town fans and players celebrate promotion to the Premier League.Harry Clarke is held aloft during a pitch invasion as Ipswich Town fans and players celebrate promotion to the Premier League. (Image: PA)

"It is what dreams are made of, but never did I dream this. I came here hoping to get us in the Championship, so this has exceeded all my dreams."

Eight of the team that started the final day 2-0 home win against Huddersfield had all started the League One promotion-clinching 6-0 home win against Exeter a year previous.

Clarke, Leif Davis, Jack Taylor, Nathan Broadhead, George Hirst and Ali Al-Hamadi were all signed by McKenna for modest seven figure fees, with key men like Vaclav Hladky, Cameron Burgess, Sam Morsy, Wes Burns and Conor Chaplin having been brought in by previous boss Paul Cook.

"This group is so, so special," said Clarke. "We've kept 70/80% from last season. How close we are, how we work together, how we push each other - it's our biggest strength."