Keane will take us to new level - Gareth

BLUES skipper Gareth McAuley believes the winning mentality instilled by manager Roy Keane will take Ipswich to the next level in the coming season.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

BLUES skipper Gareth McAuley believes the winning mentality instilled by manager Roy Keane will take Ipswich to the next level in the coming season.

McAuley is ahead of schedule as he recovers from knee ligament damage and has a chance to play in Town's first pre-season game at Finn Harps on July 7.

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The Northern Ireland international is itching involved and is convinced that under Keane, Town will improve on their disappointing ninth place finish of last season.

He said: “When he came in everyone lifted to a new level and I expect that level to be maintained and us to push on from that.

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“In the new manager we have someone the players can trust, respect and believe in

“He is a winner and expects to be winners too. Of course we are not going to win every game but that doesn't stop us going in to every game looking to win and he will expect us to win.

“Even if we are losing we will never be beaten, we may run out of time to win but we won't be beaten.”

McAuley accepts that Town fell short last season despite having a big squad and changes will be made to improve the squad for the new campaign.

He said: “It was really difficult and frustrating when you look at the amount of times we had chances to get into the top six.

“The best was after we beat QPR and went to Preston where, if we had won, we would have gone to fourth but we fell short.

“That was typical; we fell short in too many big games.

“We probably turned up expecting to win which you can't do. If we had have gone fourth it would have lifted the whole town, the players everyone. The confidence going fourth then might have taken us through to the end of the season.

“We had to dust ourselves down after that.

“It is a squad game and we had a big squad but we had injuries and had players out of position a lot. It is hard to adapt when you come into a side and are playing out of position.

“The manager left players out at times and had he trusted them then things might have been different.”

The centre-half believes the change of manager is already a big step in taking Town to a new level.

McAuley said: “Getting Roy Keane to this club is a great statement from the club about where they want to be. Since he has come in Ipswich Town has gone all over the world.

“Marcus Evans has taken the club global and this is just the first step.

“When we get this club promoted then we stay on that stage every day of every week.”

Speaking after presenting 16-month-old Alfie McAnespie with a sponsored walk certificate after he became the youngest person in the country to raise funds for the Help the Heroes charity, McAuley revealed how he was progressing well in his own recovery.

Specialist Mark Bowditch gave him the all-clear to step up training on Monday after removing the knee brace which McAuley has had to wear for the past month.

He said: “I feel I'm achieving something now that the knee brace is off.

“I'm at the stage now where I can do jogging, swimming and cycling.”

The injury was caused after an accidental collision with a young keeper in training, with everyone looking to impress the newly-appointed Keane.

McAuley said: “The tempo was high with players showcasing themselves in front of the new manager as you would expect with lads wanting to be involved.”

Although Northern Ireland play a friendly against this weekend, the Ulsterman would not have played in it anyway as his sister is getting married on Friday, in a castle near Belfast.

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