'I hadn’t planned on dropping to League One... the pressure attracts me' - Carroll excited to start Town career
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Midfielder Tom Carroll hadn’t planned on dropping into League One this season but was attracted by the pressure of playing for Ipswich Town.
The 29-year-old left Queens Park Rangers at the end of last season after turning down a new deal at Loftus Road and, after a spell training with Derby County this summer, has signed a one-year deal with Paul Cook’s promotion-chasing Blues.
He made his debut as a late substitute at Cheltenham on Tuesday night and is likely to be involved again when MK Dons visit this weekend, as Town look to get their season up-and-running after a stuttering start.
“Probably a week or so ago I was in at Derby training,” Carroll said, when asked how his move to Suffolk had come about.
“The manager (Cook) had come to one of the games and had given me a call, giving his thoughts and plans for the season. He’s a really positive guy and I’ve seen how his Wigan teams play, so it was nice to get the call.
“I hadn’t planned on dropping to League One because everyone wants to play as high as they can, but it’s a bit of a strange window at the minute. I had a contract offer from QPR but one thing or another didn’t fit into place and I wasn’t as happy as I felt I should have been, in terms of how I was treated there.
“You have to make decisions in life because it’s a short career. I didn’t want to keep missing out on football once the season had started an obviously I know how big a club Ipswich is because for most of my life they’ve either been in the Premier League (2000-02) or the Championship (2002-2019) so that shows the stature of the club and where they’re trying to get back to.
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“It’s going to be tough because there are some big clubs in this league. It’s almost like a second Championship with some of the sides in it. But this club doesn’t want to be hanging around in League One either.
“I think it will be a good season for us and I think, once everything clicks, we’ll be on the up.
“Fans are fans and they want to see their side win, which we fully understand because we have a very good squad here and great management who know the league inside out. But the boys have to stay positive going into another tough game. We’ll need the fans with us this year so hopefully we can give them something to cheer about soon.”
Town, following a busy summer packed with new signings, were seen as pre-season promotion favourites by many, which is something which excites the former Tottenham man.
“We have to dominate games and there’s a pressure to be up there, which attracted me,” Carroll said.
“I want to be in a team which is winning, pushing for promotion and dominating games, and if we can do that, I feel you’ll see a good side of me. I still have lots of ambition and believe I can play at a high level, in the right side. That’s big for me.
“Pressure is a good thing to have and I believe this isn’t a League One club, so if the boys aren’t feeling a bit of pressure to get up then they have the wrong feeling.
“Teams will want to beat us and I’m looking forward to that pressure.”
Carroll would be playing higher up the football pyramid were it not for injuries, having missed large chunks of recent seasons with hip and then knee problems. But the midfielder hopes the worst of that is behind him now.
He said: “That’s what I need to do and tick off. I’ve lost three or four years where I’ve not played as much as I should with hip and knee operations. Major surgeries. But I feel fit and don’t feel like they’re holding me back, which is good.
“I just want to get on the field and play football in training and on match days. Hopefully I can get that this season.
“I’ve missed playing in front of fans. I played 24 games in a row last year before I did my knee and you get such a buzz. I don’t want to miss more football and I can’t wait to get going.
“I’m 29 but have missed some good years of my career, but I’m not an old boy. I feel like I’ve got plenty of games in me and it will take a lot to stop me going on for a long time in my career.
“I would be lying if I said the last few years weren’t really tough but I’d never want to walk away from the game. I feel I have plenty of life left in me.
"My family, my parents, my missus and my one-year-old son help me take my mind off things but, even if I’m at home, I can’t stop watching football. It’s my life. So, without football, it would be a strange old life.”
Carroll’s job now is to unseat midfield starters Lee Evans and Rekeem Harper, with the new arrival up for the challenge.
“I think in any team there’s lots of good players in different positions,” he said.
“I’ve probably played against both of those players in the Championship at Wigan and West Brom and they’re both good players. You want to play with good players.
“I’ve only had a couple of weeks of training but hopefully I can show what I’m about and that I can offer something a bit different. It’s up to the manager.
“I like to be someone who can dictate the play, find nice passes and try to get attacking players on the ball. I want to be the team’s ticker.
“I’ve played a couple of pre-season games (with Derby), a 45 and a 60, so it will be down to the guys here to see where I’m at.”