Experienced players still have a big role to play at Ipswich Town, insists Michael Chopra
WHEN Michael Chopra was just breaking into professional football, he could look across the dressing room at Alan Shearer and Patrick Kluivert.
A top goalscorer for England, a Champions League matchwinner – Chopra had the perfect team-mates to learn from.
While perhaps not quite on the same scale, the striker believes the Ipswich young guns can equally learn from the likes of Lee Bowyer and Jimmy Bullard – even if some of Town’s most experienced players are currently sidelined.
He explained: “When you have got players who have played at the top level at our club (Ipswich), the younger players can learn things from them.
You look at the players we brought in at the start of the season – Jimmy Bullard, myself and Lee Bowyer – and we have got a mixture of experience and youth.”
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While a lot of the excitement around the club’s upturn in fortunes has been generated by a Luke Hyam or Lee Martin, Chopra believes the ‘old heads’ have a crucial role to play.
Bullard has not started in the last dozen matches, since the awful 4-0 defeat at Burnley, but Chopra insists he has still played a vital part in the side’s mini-renaissance.
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The striker said: “Jimmy is great. He helps all the young lads out. He’s not playing but he is not a guy who just walks around with his head down. He is trying to cheer everyone up which is fantastic for the lads.”
With manager Paul Jewell stating last week he wants a core of “seven or eight players” to build the future around, Chopra fits that bill perfectly.
At 28 years old, and with a wealth of experience, both good and bad, on and off the pitch, he believes there are reasons for fans to be excited for the future.
In the present, the former Cardiff City man is just glad to have won his place back at Jason Scotland’s expense with Jewell opting recently for just one traditional striker with Lee Martin in support.
Chopra said: “The way we have been playing lately. Lee has been fantastic. He has created a lot of chances for myself. He is hard to pick up in the position he plays in – he is such a good player in what he does.
“I think the front four we have in the team – me, Lee Martin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Daryl Murphy – when we go forward, we go forward quick and we know we are going to create chances. It’s just a case of who is going to be in the box to put them away.”