Former Ipswich Town boss George Burley backs the Blues to come on strong in promotion chase

George Burley knows what it takes to be promoted to the Premier League

George Burley knows what it takes to be promoted to the Premier League - Credit: tommy hindley

George Burley believes Ipswich Town are better equipped to kick on in the second half of this season.

The former Blues player and boss – who led the club to promotion in 2000 – backed his beloved Blues to reach the Premier League again when they reached the end of 2014 occupying second spot in the Championship table.

Mick McCarthy’s men then proceeded to stumble over the line, scraping sixth spot on the final day after the rigours of an all-action division eventually took their toll on a spirited but small squad.

Fast forward 12 months and Town once again start a new year in top form, having won seven of their last 11 league matches.

And this time they seemingly have better strength in depth – both in terms of quality and quantity – to cope with the gruelling run-in, starting with tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie with League Two side Portsmouth at Portman Road.

McCarthy has made a number of changes for tomorrow’s game, but a team including the likes Bartosz Bialkowski, Piotr Malarczyk, Luke Hyam, Brett Pitman and Tommy Oar could hardly be described as a ‘reserve’ team given those players’ experience.

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“The league is certainly taking shape now from top to bottom and Ipswich have established themselves in the top six,” said Burley. “There is no doubting that we deserve to be there. It’s no fluke.

“We fell away a bit this time last year, but this looks a better and stronger squad than last season to me. I think the club is better equipped to challenge for promotion in the second half of this season now.”

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The Scotsman continued: “There’s a long way to go and, as we all know, things can change very quickly in the Championship. I do sense a lot of confidence around the town that we can stay up there though.

“In Mick the club has that experience and that continuity which is so important. Every team has their ups and downs, especially in a league as unpredictable as this, so it’s about taking it all in your stride and keeping a level head.

“It’s been steady progression throughout Mick’s time at the club and I still things are moving in the right direction.

“I tend to look at performance levels as much as results and the team was performing well, even when they weren’t winning regularly. That bodes well.”

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