Ipswich Town must be targeting the Championship play-offs, says Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy at pre-season training on Monday

Mick McCarthy at pre-season training on Monday - Credit: Archant

Mick McCarthy is aiming for a top-six finish this season, but insists the Blues’ route to a Championship play-off spot will be as brutal as ever.

Ipswich finished last season in ninth position, four points off the play-offs, just 12 months after narrowly avoiding the drop thanks to McCarthy’s heroics.

With the nucleus of last season’s squad still at Portman Road, McCarthy, who signed a new three-year deal with the club yesterday, is targeting further improvement but believes there will be more protagonists than ever chasing the Premier League dream next season.

“Progress has been made and we want to continue making progress,” said McCarthy.

“The players returned for fitness tests on Friday and were even fitter than last year. They are looking forward to it and we want another good season.

“No one is putting anymore pressure on me than myself to be successful and having kept the nucleus of last season’s squad, we have got to be trying to look to get some other players in to make us stronger and better.

“The play-offs have got to be the target. We were so close last season, we perhaps just ran out of steam and probably finished where we deserved.”

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The Blues will be joined by six new teams in the second tier this season with East Anglian rivals Norwich suffering relegation along with Cardiff and Fulham. Coming in the other direction will be Brentford, Rotherham and McCarthy’s former club Wolves, who the 55-year-old believes will be particularly strong next season.

“It won’t be any easier,” said McCarthy.

“I see Wolves as a threat as they totalled over 100 points and he (Kenny Jackett) has put a good, young team together.

“He’s re-signed Stears (Richard Stearman) as a bit of experience in the team. They are a big club with big support and they will be a threat.

“Rotherham came up with them and I thought they were a good side last season and they’ve spent a few quid, while the lads coming down, Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff will all have good squads, depending on what they lose, and will be in a position to buy, so it is going to be hard.”

McCarthy yesterday confirmed the signing of winger Stephen Hunt on a one-year deal.

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