McKenna challenges Town attackers to nail down starting spots

Macauley Bonne celebrates at Gillingham.

Kieran McKenna has challenged his Ipswich Town attackers, including James Norwood and Macauley Bonne, to nail down starting spots - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Kieran McKenna has challenged his attacking players to nail down starting spots in his Ipswich Town side. 

All four of McKenna’s strikers – Macauley Bonne, James Norwood, Joe Pigott and Kayden Jackson – have started at least one of the Blues’ last four games, though none of the quartet have been able to find the net. 

It’s been fluid in terms of attacking midfielders, too, with Bersant Celina, Connor Chaplin and Sone Aluko all sharing minutes under McKenna. 

The Town boss appears to have settled on a consistent line-up in defence, at wing-back and in the centre of midfield, depending on fitness, but starts in his three attacking positions are there to be won. 

“We have rotated and it’s good to have those options, with different players and different partnerships to look at over the first period of games,” McKenna said. 

“But, for the forward players, if you’re producing in terms of goals and assists then you’re a lot harder to leave out of the team. 

“There’s an opportunity for all of them. We’ve had a look at all of our forward players now in matches, so that opportunity is there to go and put their hand up and make a claim for more minutes. 

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“Minutes, in a strong squad like ours, always have to be earned because we won’t rotate things for no reason. They have to be earned by training performances first-and-foremost as well as on matchdays. 

“We’re getting to a stage that, when players put in really top performances it’s going to be harder to leave them out. 

“That’s a good challenge and a good competition to have in every area of the squad.” 

With McKenna’s side netting just two goals in their last four matches, the Town boss was asked if his side’s attacking play had been given any extra attention in training this week ahead of the visit of Burton. 

“The majority of our training weeks in general are about working on our possession game,” he said. 

“A big part of our ability to keep clean sheets comes from the way we use and dominate the ball and territory, keeping it away from our goal and under control.

“We’re continuing to work on that as a team because, the better we are at it, the less chance the opposition will have to score goals.  

“So for us it’s about adding more penetration to our game and more goal threat. We’ve scored a few goals in certain games but others have been quite tight. 

“We want to keep adding that to our game, get people in dangerous areas and in the box, which is something we’ve been working on a lot.”