'He'll still be setting standards' - McKenna on leader Morsy's role during ban

Suspended club captain Sam Morsy sits with Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna before the game at AFC Wi

Sam Morsy (right) is available again for Ipswich Town after serving a four-game ban. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Kieran McKenna insists Sam Morsy still has a big role to play as he serves the remaining three games of suspension. 

The Ipswich skipper was banned for four matches on Tuesday afternoon, after retrospectively being found guilty of violent conduct following an off-the-ball incident during Saturday’s victory over Accrington Stanley. 

Morsy served the first game of his ban at Wimbledon on Tuesday night and will miss this weekend’s clash with Sheffield Wednesday, as well as games with Gillingham (h) and Doncaster (a).  

But McKenna still sees his skipper playing a big role in the coming weeks, with the Town boss impressed with the Egypt international’s leadership skills during the early weeks of his Portman Road tenure. 

Sam Morsy in action against Accrington Stanley.

Sam Morsy in action against Accrington Stanley. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“He's certainly not going on holiday,” McKenna joked. “Sam is a big player for us off the pitch and I have to say I've been really happy and really impressed with his leadership qualities in the time that I've worked with him. 

“He's very thoughtful, he's studious about the game and about leadership itself. He wants to improve as a player and he made that very clear in our first conversation that, even though he is at a good age and has played lots of games, he still sees himself as wanting to develop and get better. 

“He's very interested in leadership and always wants to discuss how he can lead the group in the best way. 

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“So, he's an important player for us off the pitch and he'll be setting standards in training like he does day to day. 

“He's trained today (Thursday) at a really high level, as I would expect from him every day. But for sure he's a big miss on the pitch and I'm disappointed not to have him for the matches. 

“But we still have him in the building and around the group and he's still got an important role to play.” 

It’s not yet been decided whether Morsy will travel to Hillsborough this weekend, with McKenna and his skipper weighing up the pros and cons of a weekend on the road for a game he can’t play in. 

“I'll have that discussion with him,” McKenna said. “I've not had that discussion yet with him and we have to find a balance with that. 

“Obviously we enjoy having him around the group, but also we have to consider training time. Sometimes it might be more beneficial for him to stay here and get an extra session and work on the grass. 

“We have other leaders in the group as well and other people are going to have to step up on the pitch. 

“We're going to need different voices and leaders around the group, which we feel like we have. 

Sam Morsy challenges at Gillingham.

Sam Morsy challenges at Gillingham. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“So, we'll make the decision between myself and Sam on what games he travels for, but it will also be balanced around his individual needs to train as well and prepare himself as well as he can and use this time well because when he comes back for the MK game, we want a strong, fit and ready Sam Morsy to contribute to the rest of the season.” 

McKenna gave the captain’s armband to George Edmundson at Wimbledon on Tuesday night, with the Town boss seeing the former Rangers man as a central figure. 

“George is an important player for the future of the club,” McKenna said. “Obviously, he has come in in the summer and impressed everyone with his performances on the pitch. 

“Also, he's a positive and lively character around the dressing room, popular with the players, but also he's a tough character, and he wants to win. 

“So we feel like he's got a lot of attributes that we want to develop in him from a leadership point of view. We also have some really good senior players, to be honest. 

Sam Morsy at Wigan
11/12/2021 Wigan Athletic v Ipswich Town

Sam Morsy at Wigan 11/12/2021 Wigan Athletic v Ipswich Town - Credit: Phill Heywood

“Sone Aluko played the other night. He’s a fantastic professional and a really good leader in the group and great around the training ground, good on the pitch and has experience and he's one of a number of other examples I could give of people of who we feel have good leadership qualities. 

“We just felt it was right for George at this moment to step up and develop himself in that way, and we want to develop him over his time at the club, and we think he can be an important player for the future.”