Freddie Sears happy to keep winging it for Ipswich Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town striker Freddie Sears has defended his recent goal drought ahead of tomorrow’s crunch Championship clash at top-six rivals Birmingham City.
The former West Ham and Colchester United front man netted nine times in the second half of last season, following a January switch, and continued that red-hot form at the start of this season with four goals in his first six games.
Manager Mick McCarthy then asked him to fulfil an unselfish wing role for the team though and, although he has undoubtedly been effective in undertaking that task, the 26-year-old has scored just twice in his last 22 appearances.
“Obviously I’d like to be scoring more goals, but I’m playing a different role now,” said Sears, who instead of loitering with intent on the last shoulder of the opposition defence is now using his pace and tireless work-rate out on the flanks.
“I know it’s easy for me to say ‘I’m playing out wide’, but I’m sure that would affect all the top Championship strikers if you put them wide. Put Jordan Rhodes or Andre Gray out wide and see how many goals they get.
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“I’ve got six goals this season and I’m only a couple behind Murph (Daryl Murphy). I want to finish top-goalscorer if I can. I want to make more assists for the team as well. The most important thing is the team winning games though.
“If I was out wide, wasn’t scoring and the team wasn’t winning I might be thinking ‘something’s not right here’, but I’ve been scoring a few goals here and there, I feel like I’m contributing to the team and we have been winning games.”
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He continued: “It was a bit strange playing wide to start with, but the gaffer told me what he wanted, how I could play it and how it could play to my strengths.
“It’s not been the case that I’ve just been standing on the wing and not being involved. I’ve played pretty much every game and, as I say, I’ve always felt that I’ve contributed in some way.
“The system has maybe suited us a bit better away from home. The pace on the counter-attack at times is scary with me and (Ryan) Fraser and Murph (Daryl Murphy). There aren’t many teams that can cope with that.”
On being one of several first team players left out of the squad that lost 2-1 to League Two side Portsmouth in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday night, Sears said: “You want to play every game. I wanted to play Tuesday night. Sometimes your body – mentally and physically – can’t keep going though.
“I think that game against Leeds took a lot out of us. That was probably the performance of our season.
“We work tirelessly. You see the stats here and there aren’t too many teams that run further than us in games. That does take its toll.
“To be fair, the gaffer made the decision early on, we knew we wouldn’t be travelling and ours eyes have been on Birmingham.
“Sometimes I think you need someone to take you out for a game or two. You ask all the boys in there, they want to play every game. Sometimes you need the manager, the fitness coach, the physio or whoever to step in and say ‘take a breather’.
“The result was disappointing, but it’s hard to judge boys who haven’t been playing week-in, week-out. It was tough for them because they were up against a good League Two team that plays together week-in, week-out.
“No-one wanted to lose that game, we all wanted that crack at Bournemouth, but it wasn’t meant to be and now we have to concentrate on the league.”
Is there added pressure on Town to get a result at St Andrew’s now on Saturday?
“I think there is,” said Sears. “We had that after the Manchester United (League Cup) game when we then played Bristol City and drew. There is a lot of pressure for us to win the game. It’s going to be tough, but we’ve given ourselves the best possible chance.
“It works both ways. If we win the game then everyone will probably forget about the FA Cup, if we lose everyone will be talking about it still.
“That’s just the way it is. We trust the gaffer, we trust the staff.”