Sone Aluko: 'No-one is hiding from the expectation'

Sone Aluko is beaten to the ball at Needham Market

Sone Aluko is beaten to the ball by Needham Market's Kieran Morphew. - Credit: Pagepix

Sone Aluko says no-one at Portman Road is hiding from the expectation of promotion this season.

Aluko was speaking after the Blues got their pre-season off to a good start with a thumping 7-0 victory at non-league Needham Market on Saturday, in front of almost 2,000 fans.

In a competitive clash, Town took the lead through Matt Penney to lead at the interval. They then took control in the second period with Conor Chaplin (3), Freddie Ladapo, Greg Leigh and Tommy Hughes all on target. Leigh and Ladapo scoring on their debuts in a blue shirt, in what manager Kieran McKenna described as 'the perfect exercise'.

Conor Chaplin completes his hat-trick by scoring from a free-kick at Needham Market

Conor Chaplin completes his hat-trick by scoring from a free-kick at Needham Market - Credit: Pagepix

"It's always good to get back out there," Aluko said, in reference to the win at Needham.

"It's been a tough week, so we were perhaps not going into the game as fresh as you would do during the season.

But I thought we gave a good account of ourselves and they gave a good account of themselves as well, so we are happy with the result in the end."

Aluko knows promotion is the aim this season for the Blues after the disappointment of a mid-table finish last season. It's something he says no-one is hiding from.

"For sure promotion is our aim," he said.

"The players we have, we should be aiming for that, a club of this size, the squad we have. We are fully aware of what we want to do.

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"Last year we played some good football, but where did we finish, 11th? That's not where we want to be.

"Our points tally wasn't bad but we want to be right up at the top and we believe we can. No one is hiding from the expectation that we want to get promoted. I'm well aware of that, the squad are well aware of that, the management are well aware of that. Look forward to the challenge.

Dominic Ball on the ball at Needham Market

Dominic Ball on the ball at Needham Market - Credit: Pagepix

"We feel the club is going in the right direction, we have a strong squad, good manager, good coaching staff, one of the backers (Mark Steed) was here today at Needham, it's all very positive."

Town head off to Loughborough in a couple of weeks for more pre-season training, as well as a chance for the squad to bond.

"It's going to be a tough week, we know that," Aluko said. "It can be really uncomfortable, but then come the first game of the season against Bolton, we will feel the benefit of it.

"Pre-season is something you have to do, I think it's my 16th pre-season and it doesn't get any easier, but you find a way to get through it, and it helps going forward in the season.

American backer Mark Steed talks to fans at Needham Market

American backer Mark Steed talks to fans at Needham Market - Credit: Pagepix

"It's a way to get back focussed into the game, get your mentality right. You must not take the game for granted, we're in a very privileged position to do what we do, so every time you go on the pitch you give it your all, press hard, run hard."