Ipswich Town striker Michael Chopra is getting by with a little help from his friends

IPSWICH Town striker Michael Chopra is getting by with a little help from his new friends.

The 28-year-old admits he will always be in a state of rehabilitation over the severe gambling addiction he sought help for in November last year.

And having got his body in the best physical shape it’s been in years following an intense individual summer fitness camp, the scorer of Tuesday night’s dramatic late winner at Watford says he is mentally right for the gruelling campaign ahead.

“I’m in a better place at the moment and I think you can see that in my football,” said the front man, who travelled with the squad yesterday ahead of today’s game at early table-toppers Blackpool.

“I lost a lot of weight over the summer and this is the best condition I’ve felt in for about three or four years. You can see that I’m enjoying myself out there on the football pitch and I’m loving life at this moment in time.

“The rehab will never stop. It’s like an illness that I had and it’s something that will always stay in your body. You just have to take it day-by-day. I’ll never stop doing what I’m doing (to prevent a relapse) because when I’m in the right frame of mind I’m a better footballer.”

“I just try and keep myself occupied. We’ve had Steve Williams (double Olympic gold medallist rower) come in to do some fitness work with us and he’s got me doing some gym stuff outside of training sessions.

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“Luke Chambers (new signing from Nottingham Forest) is also staying with me at the moment while he finds a house.

“The main thing is to enjoy it because there’s no point in playing football if you don’t. I’ve just got to continue doing what I’m doing and I can only get better.”

Chopra’s winner at Vicarage Road in midweek was his first competitive goal in 12 games. After hitting the net six times in pre-season though, the striker is backing himself to hit the magic 20-goal this season.

“I didn’t even know how many games it had been,” he said. “That doesn’t really bother me – I’ll just keep putting myself in the right positions

“The manager has different formations for different opposition and you saw against Blackburn that it was hard for me and Lee (Martin) to get on the ball.

“There will be games like that where I don’t see much of the ball, but you just have to keep working hard for the team.

“This is a good group of lads at the minute that’s fighting for each other. We probably didn’t have that last year.”

– For live match reports from today’s game, follow @Stuart_Watson and @davegoods on Twitter