Ibrahima Sonko’s pride has been hurt by Ipswich Town’s embarrassing defensive record
IBRAHIMA Sonko admits his pride has been hurt by Ipswich Town’s embarrassing record as the Football League’s current leakiest defence.
No-one across England’s top four divisions has conceded more than the Blues this season – Paul Jewell’s men having let in a staggering 39 goals in just 19 games.
Twenty of those goals have been put past Town during their current seven-game losing streak.
And although Sonko has not been on the pitch for 15 of them – a torn hamstring sustained in the first half at Millwall keeping him out for four further games – that doesn’t stop him hurting any less.
“I was speaking to my agent yesterday and I said I can’t remember the last time I’ve conceded so many goals,” said the no-nonsense centre-back.
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“I know I’ve been out of the team, but I remain a team player and I’m gutted that we have been conceding so many.
“I was at Forest and was confident when we were winning 2-1, but we conceded two late goals and that hurt. Then we conceded two late goals to Reading and it just hasn’t seemed to stop. It’s painful, really painful, actually.”
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Sonko returned to the starting line-up last weekend and, despite giving away a penalty in the second half, showed just why he’s been missed with his brave, body-on-the-line approach to defending.
“I think everyone needs to know their job,” said the 30-year-old.
“I can’t wait for the next clean sheet – I don’t care if we don’t score to be honest – I just want that clean sheet.
“Other people are in the team to make the ball run fluidly, the strikers are here to score goals. I’m a defender though and I’m here to defend.
“As defenders we have to worry only about defending at the moment and not worry about anything else.
“We are defenders, we need to defend properly and we need to force the people in front of us to defend properly too.”
Sonko was seen by many as something of a panic buy back in August when Jewell – so short of centre-backs at the time – snapped up the free agent, having previously dismissed any interest in the released Stoke defender.
He has proved himself as a key member of the team though, with 17 of the club’s 20 Championship points having come with him in the side.
The only problem has been his series of niggly injuries which have severely limited his ability to train and – more recently – play.
He said: “It was really hard (being out the team). You’re up there in the stands and you feel helpless.
“When you’re seeing things go wrong you’re thinking ‘could I help if I was there?’ And no-one can answer that.
“There was a reaction to the injury of Saturday, yes – I was tired! The hamstring feels OK this week though and hopefully I will get stronger and stronger.
“I will play 100% every game until injury prevents me from doing so. I’ll just carry on doing what I’ve got to do and hope for the best.
“We are fighting for our lives and are prepared to dig in and stand up and be counted.”
– For full match preview of Barnsley v Ipswich Town see tomorrow’s EADT and Evening Star.