Bywater eager for promotion this season

BLUES keeper Stephen Bywater has dismissed suggestions that it is better for the Blues to wait another year before going up rather than win promotion and end up 'doing a Derby'.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

BLUES keeper Stephen Bywater has dismissed suggestions that it is better for the Blues to wait another year before going up rather than win promotion and end up 'doing a Derby'.

Bywater won promotion with the Rams last season and is trying to help Ipswich get into the top six this year and go up through the play-offs.

Derby are now in danger of being recognised as the worst ever Premier League side, the first team to be relegated from the division before April, sitting with just 11 points, four short of Sunderland's record low of 15, with just four games to play.

But even though County fans have seen just one win all season, Bywater believes the year in the top division is better than missing out and being stuck in the Championship.

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Bywater said: “If you have the choice of a year in the Championship and a year in the Premiership it is obvious a year in the Premiership.

“It was great for the fans to have that year and it will be great for the fans next year in the Championship otherwise there is no point in promotion- you may as well just lose games now.

“You have to take the Premier League when you can.”

Derby fans would appear to agree, with 19,000 already renewing season tickets.

The 26-year-old keeper is now on loan with the Blues after being ousted by new derby boss Paul Jewell but made 19 Premier League appearances for the Rams, mainly under Billy Davies.

He is one of 21 players that have left Pride Park since they won promotion, while 13 players were signed for around £10m with a further two brought in on loan.

Bywater is hoping to tie up a deal keeping him at Portman Road from July and doesn't feel there will be as many changes at Portman Road if Town went up and that would help them cope.

Town have also been through their off-field problems and a takeover, whereas Derby's new regime, General Sports Entertainment, took over in January, the middle of the Premier League campaign.

He added: “I feel Ipswich will be better equipped anyway because the style of football they play is more Premier League.

“It is not long ball it is all about passing and moving. The manager and chairman are very driven and want to put a lot of time and effort in.”

The Rams went up via the play-offs after challenging for a long time for an automatic promotion spot and that, Bywater believes, helped them

“Derby were better equipped at this stage because we were in the automatic places and knew we would definitely be in the play-offs.

“If you are not in the play-offs, then you are striving to get in, yet if you are in there you can relax.”

Of the Ipswich side that started against Norwich on Sunday, eight have had Premier League experience so would know what to expect.

Tommy Miller and Pablo Counago did it last time round with Ipswich, and Miller also played there with Sunderland. Shefki Kuqi has done it with Blackburn and Fulham, his last appearance in the top flight was against Arsenal just weeks ago.

David Wright did it with Wigan, while Alex Bruce was there with Birmingham City and Alan Quinn last year with Sheffield United and of course Danny Simpson is still a Manchester united player and his last outing in the big league was in the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle.

A couple of those players may not be here next season but they have experience coupled with exciting youth and with millions to spend Jim Magilton can further strengthen.

Derby will come down at least £30m better off than this time last year. The new manager Paul Jewell has made a start on rebuilding his squad and after visiting places such as The Emirates, Old Trafford, Anfield and St James' Park, the supporters have had their appetites whetted and will want more of the same as soon as possible, even if it is just for a year at a time.

Town fans may not get the chance to find out this season but should be reassured that Town are unlikely to 'do a Derby' if, or when, they do.