Diallo's pledge to fans
DRISSA Diallo is confident that Ipswich Town fans will see the real him this season after injury wrecked his first campaign at Portman Road.The Guinea international admits he did not perform to his best and accepts supporters were critical of him.
DRISSA Diallo is confident that Ipswich Town fans will see the real him this season after injury wrecked his first campaign at Portman Road.
The Guinea international admits he did not perform to his best and accepts supporters were critical of him.
After starting the first nine games last season Diallo suffered a horrendous knee injury after colliding with team-mate Georges Santos against Wimbledon at Portman Road, last September.
The ligament and cartilage damage needed surgery and it was not until mid-January that he was able to play in the first team - coming on as a substitute in the 6-4 win over Crewe Alexandra.
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His form after that was erratic at best and a section of Town fans turned on him as he faded in and out of the side.
But he is now ready to show his doubters that a fully fit Drissa Diallo can more than hold his place in the Blues defence.
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Diallo said: “People don't always realise how difficult it is sometimes to come back from a bad injury. It is never easy
“Every other club I have played the supporters have been happy with me.
“Here at Ipswich it is fair to say I have not shown my best. I'm not happy with what I did because I know I can do much more.
“That is why it was frustrating. If I knew I was at my best then I would say fair enough, I have done my best, but I know I can do better.
“I tried to do my best but I knew I was not ready. Friends and old team-mates would come and see me play and say 'that was not the real Drissa' I knew myself I was not playing as well as I can.
“But this is a new season - a new start, and I'm looking forward to it and I feel ready.”
The Mauritanian-born defender started his career in England when he made his debut for Burnley against Ipswich at Turf Moor. He impressed Joe Royle enough to take him from under Stan Ternent's nose even before the season had ended, although he couldn't sign him until after the club had come out of administration in June.
Diallo is also keen to repay that faith by Royle and is determined to make this year better than the last.
He said: “One thing is for sure is that I'm hungry. Last season was the most frustrating of my career as I got the most serious injury I have ever had.
“The manager was happy with me at the beginning of the season but then I got injured and I was out for four months.
“It was the first time I had been out so long and when I came back I really struggled to find my best form.
“I couldn't show what I could do and that was particularly disappointing.
“Now I feel very good, I'm well and fit and mentally 100 per cent. I'm trying my best to show the manager I want to play and it is up to him to decide who deserves to play.”
Diallo has played regularly in pre-season and was used as a right-back in the 5-1 win against Oxford United on Tuesday, with Fabian Wilnis injured. It is a position he would happily fill again.
He said: “If the manager thinks I can do the job at right back I will do the job. It is the same at centre back or in a three it is no problem to me.”
Although John McGreal chose to join Burnley, Town still have numbers at the back with new signing Jason De Vos and Richard Naylor looking to have edged the starting spots, although Diallo is not giving up without a fight.
He added: “Jason is a good addition to the squad. He has experience and he is a good talker. Then we have Bam Bam so it is good to have competition in the team.
“It is normal and it creates a good competitive atmosphere. We all want to play but it is the manager's decision who he picks, which we have to respect.”
Diallo will hope to be involved somewhere tomorrow and is keen to see how Town compare with Palace who won promotion after a late surge.
He said: “This will be our toughest game so far. Except for the match against Aalborg we have played lower opposition and even though that is not always easy we have done what we have to do.
“This is even more serious now against a physical team in front of our own fans.
“The start of their run was against us when they were a goal down at half-time but came back to win 3-1.
“Just how they will get on in the Premiership I'm not sure. It is not my problem.”
Diallo is more interested in showing just how good a defender he can be now he is fully fit.