Kennedy’s advice to Town’s young stars - ‘If you don’t look after yourself you’ll be found out’

MARK Kennedy today predicted a top future for a number of rising Ipswich Town stars at Portman Road – as long as they keep away from beer and steak.

Kennedy has declared himself fit to face Preston North End in tomorrow’s final home Championship game of the season (kick-off 3pm) and is looking ahead to having a full season in 2011/12 when he will be 35.

The experienced left back, who has been a professional for 18 years, rates the current season as his most frustrating because a recurring hamstring problem has restricted his appearances to 28 games.

“Football has changed since I came into the game,” said Kennedy. “The introduction of foreign players has changed the British and Irish mentality to the game.

“The days of having a few beers and a steak on Saturday nights are over.

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“If you don’t look after yourself you will get found out – it’s as simple as that and particularly at Championship level and above.

“Our youngsters particularly Connor (Wickham), Josh (Carson), Conor (Hourihane), Jack (Ainsley), Shane (O’Connor) and Ronan (Murray) all look after themselves very well.

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“To stay in the game like Ryan Giggs and like Dougie Freedman when I was at Crystal Palace you have to keep in good shape, and I feel ready to be available for 46 games next season.

“I don’t want to have a bit part and I don’t want to drop down.

“When you lose your legs a bit you gain upstairs and I feel in general good shape.

“I read that Thierry Henry said that he felt 100% fit in only five matches that he played in his career.

“And the majority of players in action at Portman Road tomorrow will probably be carrying knocks, but you can play through most of them.

“This has been my most frustrating season, but with a good pre-season I’m looking to be more of a regular next sterm.”

Kennedy is confident Town’s talented youngsters can push on but it worries him that the Ipswich Town structure is too good.

“Perhaps the youngsters have it too easy,” he added.

“There is nothing missing at this club – it is all there with the right foundations to become a fixture in the Premier League.

“There will be lads moving on this summer, and I hope they go on and progress. They could not have had a better opportunity.”

Kennedy says the last two games – with a visit to Leicester next Saturday – are not just end of season affairs.

“They will both be important because we want to finish the season strongly,” he said.

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