'Our focus is to finish strong' - McKenna not ready to start experimenting

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says his full focus on finishing this season as strongly as possible. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna says he's not ready to start experimenting with his side just yet.

Last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to Cambridge United means the Blues - now eight points adrift of the League One play-off places - realistically head into their final five games of the campaign with just pride to play for.

It's sparked the usual end-of-season debate as to whether game-time for those coming towards the end of loans/contract will be decreased and minutes will be given to homegrown prospects instead.

“Our priority very much is getting the best team together to play against Shrewsbury," said McKenna, speaking ahead of Saturday's game at Montgomery Waters Meadow.

"We have to look to win the game and then look to win the game after that. 

“Our 100% focus is on putting out the team which we think is going to be most competitive. 

“We always have an eye on the longer-term, but at the moment it has to be all eyes on Saturday." 

He continued: “Everyone around the club, from the staff, to the players and hopefully the supporters are positive about the direction of the football club.

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“We’ve got a group of players who pretty much all want to be here, who all want to be part of the journey, so everyone is fighting for that. 

“We want to finish this season in a positive way, finish with good momentum, keep developing the team and give the fans a couple of good days because they certainly deserve that. 

“It’s very much our focus on finishing the season strongly and then look to build on that in the summer."

Macauley Bonne and James Norwood embrace, as the pair swap places with Bonne coming on as a second h

Strikers James Norwood and Macauley Bonne both face uncertain futures at Ipswich Town. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Dominic Thompson, Tyreeq Bakinson, Bersant Celina and Macauley Bonne are all coming towards the end of their loan deals, while Tom Carroll, James Norwood, Sone Aluko and Kayden Jackson are nearing the end of their contracts.

Asked if he had made any decisions on the futures of those players, McKenna said: “We haven’t communicated anything to those players yet. Those decisions and discussions are still to take place in the future.  

“There are still five games left and to me that feels like a lot of points on the table. It’s too early to be thinking too far ahead to next year. 

“Obviously there’s a lot of work going on in the background, a lot of discussions and we’re making plans for the summer, but in terms of the immediate playing group I think we owe it to the supporters more than anyone to try and finish off the season strongly and give them some good days and good results to enjoy.  

“The future and the summer and next season, that can wait for a few weeks down the line. 

“We’ve now got Shrewsbury, who have been in good form, and then we’ve got the top two teams in the league (Wigan and Rotherham) over the Easter period. That’s a great opportunity to see where we are at as a team."