There’s a grin when Janoi Donacien is asked what position he plays in for Ipswich Town.

It’s a question he’s been asked many times before during his time with the Blues and it’s usually prompted the same response.

‘I’m a right- back' he’d always say with a smile, usually after a rare appearance in a cup competition under a manager, Paul Lambert, who was once convinced he was a central defender, despite evidence to the contrary.

Things are a little different now, though. He’s arguably both and neither of those positions at the same time.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieran McKenna with Janoi Donacien at MillwallKieran McKenna with Janoi Donacien at Millwall (Image: © Copyright Stephen Waller)

What’s clear, though, is that he’s a mainstay of Kieran McKenna’s side, starting every one of his manager’s league games in charge, slotting in a role which feels like it’s been created especially for him.

In the last week alone, his ‘hybrid’ right-sided defensive roll has allowed him to storm forward and create two goals against MK Dons, before defending stoutly in a challenging victory over Burton Albion.

So, what position does Donacien play these days?

“I wouldn’t know what to say,” he said. “I’m just a defender.

“But the gaffer wants me up and down, supporting play and staying connected with the defence and with Wes (Burns). I wouldn’t say it’s a certain position – it's just the way the gaffer wants me to play.

“As long as we are all flowing together then it should always work for us. As long as we cover each other and move together then it should be ok. The gaffer just wants us to keep on top of teams and press them down.

“I know that if I am getting across then Wes is tucked and there. It’s all there and it’s all good.

East Anglian Daily Times: Conor Chaplin celebrates with Janoi Donacien after Wes Burns had scored to give them the lead.Conor Chaplin celebrates with Janoi Donacien after Wes Burns had scored to give them the lead. (Image: © Copyright Stephen Waller)

“It’s worked out for us and we’ve been a lot more solid in games. We’re attacking well and connected, so it’s going well.

“I’m relishing the challenge and want to do even more.”

More is exactly what McKenna, as well as team-mate Conor Chaplin, has encouraged Donacien to do in recent days.

Both have said, despite his excellent form, that Donacien still has more to offer.

The 28-year-old agrees.

“One of my main things to improve on is arriving in the box, because I am in there quite a lot, so I want to pick the right deliveries and make sure I’m helping out,” he said.

East Anglian Daily Times: Janoi Donacien in action against Forest Green RoversJanoi Donacien in action against Forest Green Rovers (Image: Archant)

“That’s what the gaffer wants. He wants us involved in every move and to stay connected, whether it’s me, Wolfie (Luke Woolfenden) or George (Edmundson) stepping forward, we start the attack.

“I know where Wes is and he knows where I am, so we have it going on right now.

“I want to be more of a presence and crossing those balls. I’ve been working with Chaz (coach Charlie Turnbull) on my delivery and just trying to get better.

“I want to push myself and the lads have been pushing me to get up there.

“Clean sheets are still my bread and butter, though. That’s all I want. We were gutted we didn’t keep one in the first game (against Bolton) and then at Forest Green as well. But getting those couple of clean sheets in the last two games (MK Dons and Burton) has done us well.

“It’s what our aim was, to get points rolling on the board, score a few goals and keep spirits up. We’ve started well.

East Anglian Daily Times: Janoi Donacien pictured against BoltonJanoi Donacien pictured against Bolton (Image: Archant)

“It’s good the gaffer has shown faith in me. Like I’ve always said, being out there and playing for the team is all I ever wanted.

“It’s so good to be in a team where everyone works hard and runs for each other. The way the gaffer sets us up is a joy to play in.”

Before sitting down to take questions ahead of this weekend’s trip to Shrewsbury, Donacien has been in an analysis meeting as the Blues prepare for their trip to Shropshire.

It’s clear forums like those are the backbone of McKenna and his coaching team’s work, which has taken Ipswich to the top of League One in the early weeks of the season.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Donacien said, when asked how thorough the Blues’ analysis is under McKenna.

“I’ve just come out of a meeting now and we were going through clips of the last couple of games. We’re extremely prepared for every game we play and each one is the same, regardless of whether it’s a team at the top or lower down the league.

“The gaffer goes through everything in such fine detail. I’ve not known that level either on the pitch or of it. He breaks it down so much to show what he wants and he shows us the pictures of what other teams might present, whether they’re pressing or anything else they can do.

“He breaks things down in ways I haven’t seen before and it helps a lot. In matches, when it comes, it’s all natural because we’ve done it in training. For example I might know that the press is coming from a certain way, so the spare man will be on the other side.

“It’s really good. We have meetings as a team, as individuals and as units as well, where Martyn (Pert, assistant manager) goes through things in extreme detail and breaks things down for us.”

It’s hard to discuss Donacien without thinking back to all of the twists and turns he’s endured in an Ipswich career which looked over on several occasions, only for him to enjoy a resurgence which now, five years after he first signed, sees him right at the heart of a serious promotion push.

“Football is this magical journey where anything can happen,” Donacien said, reflecting once more on his route to this point.

“It’s hard to describe to people why certain things happen and you end up where you are.

“You don’t know what’s round the corner. You just have to keep being as professional as you can and keep applying yourself.”