BIG INTERVIEW: Luke Chambers on loving being a centre-back again, Tyrone Mings’ ‘limitless’ potential and why Ipswich Town can target automatic promotion

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town host Blackburn Rovers tomorrow looking to extend their seven-game unbeaten run in the Championship. STUART WATSON spoke to captain Luke Chambers.

Q: Hi Luke. Having gone seven games unbeaten, did the international break come at a good or bad time?

A: “We’ve got to look at it as a positive. We put in a tremendous shift to go unbeaten in seven, the gaffer and Tyrone (Mings) have got their rewards (Championship Player and Manager of the Month respectively) and now we’re all gagging to go again.”

Q: Most people saw Ipswich Town as potential top-six candidates before a ball was kicked, but can you be considered top two material now?

A: “We had a slow start to the season, but it just shows that once you get a bit of momentum you can soon shoot up the table.

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“We’re just taking it a day at a time, but if we continue this form then there’s no reason we can’t get in the top two. This league is so competitive though, you can just as easily lose three in a row as well as win three in a row.

“We’ve just got to keep our heads. The gaffer has been tremendous at keeping us level; win, lose or draw.

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“We’ve got two more home games this week that we can get maximum points from (Huddersfield next Saturday, after a Tuesday night match at Cardiff). Teams will be coming down here thinking we’ve got a bit of a target on us. We’re a team to up your game against.”

Q: Are you enjoying your football more now you’re back at centre-back?

A: “You could say that! I think you all know that I made no secret of wanting to play there. I’m never going to be that attacking, modern day right-back. If you want to be solid away from home, maybe I can do a job. I thought I did a good job there, but I’m not going to really supply assists.

“Unfortunately for Tommy (Smith), who has been fantastic, he has been the one to miss out. He’s been brilliant since I’ve gone back in the middle though and has been behind everyone in the team. I think that shows the depth and togetherness that we’ve got. That depth is keeping us all on our toes.”

Q: The team certainly looks more balanced with Tyrone Mings and Jonathan Parr in the full-back positions. Do you feel that as players?

A: “We’re a completely different team now in my opinion. I did my best there (at right-back) and tried to offer what I could. It was quite a long season for me playing there. I just feel so much more comfortable playing in the middle.

“I think having a left and a right-footer in the middle of defence has given us more balance to attack down both sides. We’re looking like we can attack both sides and be a bit more diverse.”

Q: Do you think you can chip in with a few goals?

A: “Yeah, I’m trying to. I’m going up a lot more this season. I scored a few in my first season here, I think I got three last year, so I’ll be looking to double that tally this year.

“As long as the deliveries are right I think we’ve got players to score from corners.”

Q: You mentioned Tyrone Mings winning the Player of the Month earlier. How big is his potential?

A: “For me, it’s limitless. If you look at the size of him, the athleticism of him, his technical ability... And he’s probably only had 20-odd Championship starts.

“The improvement from day one has been phenomenal. When he breezes past people he looks like the big kid in the playground, the one that’s developed quicker than everybody else!

“He’s just got to keep his head down. There’s obviously going to be people talking about him and people watching him now, but he’s a level-headed lad and I’m sure he’ll take all that in his stride.

“The key for him now is to be consistent, because to play in the Championship and above you have to be consistent.”

Q: There’s already talk about Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton...

A: “Ha! He’ll be alright. If he comes in with a big head we’ll make sure we knock it back down to size!”

Q: How do you rate Saturday’s opponents, Blackburn?

A: “I think they’ll be very dangerous. They’ve had a good start to the season, they’ve got dangerous players and this is a game we can’t go into showing any disrespect to them. We have to respect them because they’ve got players that can hurt you.

“I do think though that if we can get on our game and get on top of them, like we can, then they won’t be able to handle us.

“I’m sure it will be a very even game, but one we’re looking forward to.”

Q: Jordan Rhodes has been a bit of a goal machine since leaving here. What’s he like to play against?

A: “Just don’t give him a chance. I think he scored against us at their place last season with his one chance. It was on his left foot and he just tucked it in the bottom corner.

“There are not many players at this level who only require one chance, but he’s one of them. He guarantees goals so it will be tough trying to keep him quiet.

“You’ve got him, you’ve got (Rudy) Gestede, who’s a bit of an animal, (Jamie) Vardy’s come into the side, they’ve got wide players who can deliver crosses... They’ve got a strong attacking team.

“As long as we get on the front foot though, I think we’ll have a good game against them.”

Q: Now then, you’re off to Huddersfield according to reports...

A: “I heard that coming in this week! I’m not going anywhere.

“We’re talking (about a new contract), so hopefully something will be agreed in the next however long. I don’t want to go anywhere. This is my most enjoyable spell as a professional, my family are settled, I love all the boys, the gaffer’s been brilliant with me from day one and the fans have been fantastic.

“I don’t want to be going anywhere.

“Every team the gaffer’s been involved with he’s had them right at the top end of the league. I want to be in the Premier League, I’m getting older now, so I’m hoping my opportunity will be with Ipswich.”

Q: Everyone seems to love playing for the manager...

A: “He came here at such a tough time and everyone was thinking the worst, but he has transformed the club.

“He treats everyone, from 15/16 year olds to a 32/33/34 year olds the same.

“He’s just been brilliant. That’s all I can say. The lads love playing for him and we all know that if we don’t give him what he wants then you don’t play.

“He’s pretty clear about what he wants from you.”

Q: How difficult is it marking the likes of David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy in training at the moment?

A: “I just let them have it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then when Friday comes I’m ready for them! They are a handful.

“McGoldrick can make people look silly, while Murph – when he’s on his game – is a massive player for us.

“If you’ve got the front three we’ve got – Murphy and Didz have ben on fire and Conor (Sammon) has come in and done well – then you’ve always got a chance. I wouldn’t enjoy playing against them.

“We can go route one if we need to, we can change it up, we can keep it, we can switch it across the back, we out-passed Brighton the other week.

“We’ve got a few more dimensions we can adjust to if needs be.”

Q: The squad’s looking quite strong now. How do you assess it?

A: “Just by adding three or four the quality has jumped up. If everyone was fit there’d be some players that wouldn’t even get on the bench that would walk into most other teams.

“I think, to be a team challenging for one of the top spots you need that strength in depth. Jack Collison and Darren Ambrose have come in recently and added that extra bit of quality.

“Jack’s had a few weeks now and I think he’ll be a good player for us over the next few weeks. And obviously everyone’s delighted that Jonny (Williams) is back.”

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