'If everyone was like him, football would be easy' - Cook's praise for Donacien

Janoi Donacien about to take a throw in.

Janoi Donacien didn't start a single league game for Ipswich last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan at Fleetwood. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says the attitudes of Janoi Donacien, Matt Penney and Rekeem Harper are examples to any player currently out of his starting XI.

The ever-patient Donacien came into the side for Kane Vincent-Young at Lincoln last weekend and kept danger man Anthony Scully very quiet in a 1-0 win. 

Penney, meanwhile, will return to the starting XI for tomorrow's home clash with his former club Sheffield Wednesday following an injury to Hayden Coulson.

“The most important players at football clubs, for me, are the ones who aren’t playing," said Cook. "They are the ones you’ve got to look after. 

“Hayden Coulson is out tomorrow and Matt Penney comes in. Any of our supporters at the stadium last Saturday will have seen Matt Penney running before the game to keep up his fitness levels in the hope that his opportunity comes. And it’s come very, very quickly. This is football. You have to stay prepared. 

“There will never be 11 players who can get a club promoted again. Those days have gone. The fixture schedule is far too demanding. You’ve got to have a strong group of players. 

“When you get a disappointment, it’s a self disappointment. That’s something you have to manage for the greater good. 

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“Our results have been a concern, the points tally is not where we want it to be, but watching these lads grow together is something I’ve really, really enjoyed. 

Matt Penney celebrates scoring early at Cheltenham Town.

Matt Penney scored on his last league start for Ipswich Town - a 2-1 loss at Cheltenham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“You’ve only got to look at Rekeem Harper’s performance last week coming off the bench to see that. There was no sulking, there was no disappointment. He was prepared to take a little bit of pain for his team to win. That will spread through the group."

On Donacien, who has generally been a reliable and versatile back-up man during his three-and-a-bit years at the club, Cook said: “I think he’s probably our best one-v-one defender at the football club. How important is that in the modern day game? Huge. Absolutely huge. 

“If everybody out the team was like Donacien football would be such an easy and good place. He’s an absolutely smashing young man. Again, he’s one who wants the team to do well. 

“His chance has come and he’s taken it really well. 

“Like we tell the players all the time ‘it’s your shirt to give up’. When we give you the shirt we don’t want to take it off you.  

“The lads at Lincoln last weekend said ‘this is my shirt and I want to keep it’. That’s why it’s disappointing I can’t name the same team tomorrow."

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