‘I’ve heard bits and bobs... hopefully I’ll still be here’ – Downes on transfer speculation
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town midfielder Flynn Downes says he is hopeful that he’ll still be with the club when the transfer window shuts.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a coming of age campaign in League One last season, his all-action displays seeing him linked to Premier League clubs such as West Ham, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
Asked if he expects to be an Ipswich player this season, the affable Essex boy said: “Yeah, hopefully. We’ll see. You can never say for sure, but hopefully I will be. I’ve heard little bits and bobs, but I’m just focusing on the football. That’s all I can say really. Everything will be taken care of.”
Earlier this summer it was reported nationally that Town were ‘holding out for £4m’ for their star man, though it’s understood that owner Marcus Evans is determined to keep hold of the club’s new homegrown hero.
Contracted at Portman Road until 2022, with the club holding the option to extend that by a further year, he is well protected asset at present.
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Downes produced an impressive display in Tuesday’s 4-1 home friendly defeat to West Ham in front of watching Hammers boss David Moyes.
Speaking to BBC Suffolk, the midfielder continued: “Last season was a good one for me personally and hopefully now I can kick on. There are still things I want to work on, I’ve still got to add goals to my game.
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“We’ve got a lot of options in midfield. I feel sorry for the gaffer, because he’s got to pick the team. Everyone wants each other to do well though and I think that breeds a winning team.
“I’d like to be the box-to-box man. I think one of my strengths is my engine, I like to get up and down. I’d prefer that, but whatever helps the team I’ll do.”
Reflecting on recent friendly defeats to Tottenham (3-0) and West Ham (4-1), Downes said: “We’re playing against Premier League teams, the best of the best, but I think we’ve held our own, played some good football and there were a lot of positives. That’s a big confidence boost. Obviously there are things to work on, but overall I think we’ve done well.
“You see the things the top players do and take little bits from their game. I didn’t play the first half at Tottenham and was keeping a close eye on (Harry) Winks, his movement, his rotation, little things like. In the West Ham game me, Doz (Andre Dozzell) and Bish (Teddy Bishop) tried to imitate that and I suppose it did work at points.”
Asked if he felt that homegrown trio could all be regular starters this season, Downes replied: “Oh, 100% You look at the West Ham game, we were playing against (Tomas) Soucek, (Jack) Wilshere and (Felipe) Anderson. I’m sorry, but first half we were better than them. I think that says it all really.
“Andre has obviously got the ability, he’s had the ability since he was 10. It’s just about him playing games, getting his match fitness, a bit of experience and I think, definitely, it will be a good year for him.
“Bish just needs a run of games too. He’s had a tough few years with injuries, which isn’t his fault, but his ability is second to none.”
It’s looking like 4-3-3 will be Paul Lambert’s formation of choice this season, with the Blues’ approach based very much around playing out from the back.
“We’ve been doing a lot of shape work and patterns of play in training,” said Downes. “Obviously things don’t always go right, especially against the top teams, but we’re working on it. We think that, especially in League One, it can bring a lot of success.
“Us midfielders have got a key role. If we don’t come and get the ball off the defenders then they are going to get pressed and ultimately give it away. The whole team has got to want the ball.
“I think it’s a good way to play, it’s the way all the youngsters want to play. All the lads coming through the academy are taught to play that way. It’s looking good.”
Quizzed as to whether a top-two finish is the target for Town after the disappointing end to last season, Downes said: “A hundred percent. Look at the size of the club and the squad we’ve got. How can we not be aiming for that?
“In my opinion, with us here in League One... I hear Ipswich versus, I don’t know, Ipswich versus Shrewsury, or whoever, and I just can’t see us losing. I think we’re going to go into games with confidence and this year will be a lot better than last year. This year the boys seem to be more determined. Obviously we’ll see what happens.”
Downes scored two goals in 32 appearances during 2019/20, picking up 12 bookings.
“I definitely want more goals and less yellow cards!” he laughed. “Obviously I know it’s something I’ve got to work on. I can’t really take the fire out of my game, it’s just something I’ve got to control more. I need to play the refs more and get them on my side. The main thing is goals, that’s what I want to add to my game now.
“I’m going to keep the target to myself because I said it last year (eight) and didn’t get it. I don’t want to jinx it, but yeah I have got a goal that I need to get.”