Competition for places makes us raise our game, says Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers - Credit: Ashley Pickering

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers says the entire squad has raised their game following manager Mick McCarthy’s summer transfer business.

With the core of his starting XI still at the club following last season’s ninth-place finish, the Blues boss has brought in keeper Bartosz Bialkowski, full-back Jonathan Parr, central midfielder Kevin Bru, wingers Cameron Stewart and Alex Henshall and striker Balint Bajner.

Key men Aaron Cresswell and Jonny Williams may have departed, but talismanic striker David McGoldrick – who missed the back end of last season with a knee injury – has returned to actio, while one or two Premier League loanees could be on the way.

In addition, youngsters Jack Marriott and Elliott Hewitt are very much back in the first team fold following their loan spells lower down the leagues last season.

On the latter, Chambers – who looks set to be used as a right-back again this season – said: “Elliott’s done fantastic this pre-season. I said to him that getting games on loan (at League One side Gillingham) was massive for him and he’s shown this pre-season what he’s all about. I think he’ll be a good player for us in the future. He’ll be pushing me and I’ll be pushing him.

“It’s the same in every position. We’ve brought in Bart (Bialkowski) and he’s pushing Gerks (Dean Gerken) to another level in goal. Jonny Parr’s come in to battle it out with Tyrone (Mings) at left-back. That can only make people play better and raise their games.”

With Town concluding their pre-season schedule at Leyton Orient today, before starting kicking off their 13th successive Championship campaign with the televised clash against newly-relegated Fulham next Saturday (5.15pm), the 28-year-old said: “Everyone came back after the summer break in good shape. Even though it’s only pre-season, we’re unbeaten, we’ve only conceded one goal and I think we’re quietly confident going into the season.

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“If you look at the league this year I think it’s going to be the toughest it’s been for a number of years. The teams coming up look strong (Wolves, Brentford and Rotherham), while the teams coming down (Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff) are going to be very strong. I hate to say it but Norwich are going to definitely be up there because they haven’t lost too many players.

“It’s a very difficult opening month for us (the Blues also facing Reading, Birmingham, Norwich and Derby), but I don’t think that any of those clubs will be looking at a fixture against Ipswich as an easy one either.”

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