Digby ready to combine some McCarthy grit with his Barnsley ball-playing education

Paul Digby chests down the ball during the Ipswich Town V Portsmouth (Emirates FA Cup Third Round) m

Paul Digby chests down the ball during the Ipswich Town V Portsmouth (Emirates FA Cup Third Round) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 09 January 2016. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Paul Digby says he is ready to break into Ipswich Town’s first team and believes he could add a different dimension to the defence.

The 21-year-old impressed on his full league debut for the Blues last weekend, a gritty goalless draw at Middlesbrough, and showed he is ready for the physical battle of the Championship following four months of intense mentoring from manager Mick McCarthy.

He was schooled in art of passing out of the back at Barnsley though – just like England international John Stones – and says will try and bring those qualities to a team which has been labelled a long ball side in recent years.

“The academy at Barnsley is brilliant,” said Digby. “In the 16s, 18s and 21s, you’re told to play out from the back. I came through at the same time as Stonesy there.

“I’ve come here and the gaffer has drummed into me all the gritty qualities you need for the Championship. He was a great centre-half, so I’ve just tried to be a sponge. I realise it’s all about keeping clean sheets and results. This is not Under-21s football anymore, it’s a step up.

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“But I started out as a midfielder and was always on the ball a lot, so going into centre-half I still want to get on the ball and play – that’s a part of my game I want to keep working on.

“The gaffer definitely encourages that, but only at the right times. Definitely I think, in time, there will chances to play out from the back more.”

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Having joined Town on loan from Barnsley in January, it’s understood a deal is in place to sign Digby on a permanent basis from the League One promotion hopefuls this summer.

A two-week trial spell at Manchester United last summer and experience with the England Under-20s – which included one training session with the senior side – has given him the confidence that he can become a first-team regular with the Blues.

But he also talks maturely about his respect for the senior players in the squad, the need to keep learning and remaining grounded and humble.

“Getting in that first team and staying there is 100% my goal, ” he said.

“It will be hard mentally and physically – but I feel I am ready to do that.

“The gaffer has shown he will give young players a chance and that’s inspiring. That gives belief to all the young players at the club.”

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