McKenna on 'fully in tune' Burgess and role of young duo after Edmundson blow

Cameron Burgess applauds fans after the game.

Cameron Burgess will replace George Edmundson in the Ipswich Town side - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller - stephenw

Kieran McKenna has full confidence in Cameron Burgess’ ability to step into George Edmundson’s shoes in the Ipswich Town defence. 

Edmundson’s season could potentially be over due to ankle ligament damage suffered against Lincoln on Tuesday night, with Burgess set to come into the side in his place when Town take on Portsmouth this weekend. 

“When you train how Cameron has trained, which is to a really high level of intensity and with a really high level of focus every day, I don’t think there will be too many physical issues,” McKenna said.  

“He’s shown physically that he can step straight into the intensity of the game. 

George Edmundson rolled his right ankle following a Town corner in the Lincoln game.

It was at this moment that George Edmundson rolled his right ankle against Lincoln. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“That’s how he works every day. From a tactical point of view, he has trained from the first day with certain people in certain positions and we train in a very specific and positional way throughout our training weeks.  

“Cameron is fully in tune with our key principals both on and off the ball, as well as our requirements for his role in different phases of the game. 

“I know he will be physically ready for the game and have a very good idea of what his job is. He’s looking forward to it and is a strong personality. We have every confidence in him.” 

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When Burgess stepped off the bench to replace Edmundson on Tuesday night, it was the former Accrington centre-half's first appearance since McKenna took charge in the middle of December. 

The Town boss has been impressed with how the 26-year-old has handled his lack of action. 

“It was a long time and a lot of people would struggle with it more than Cameron did,” McKenna said. 

“He has been fantastically professional all of the way through and we’ve had a lot of conversations together as well as with Martyn (Pert, assistant). 

“He’s been working on his game and has been in every unit meeting giving his opinion on the (opposition) strikers because he knows this league very well. He’s always there to give his thoughts on how to deal with them. 

“He’s been fully engaged in everything we’ve done but has had to wait a long time for minutes. It’s been an unusual situation to have had the run of games with so many clean sheets and without injuries and suspensions. 

“I told Cam that I was certain he would get opportunities to play because of injuries and suspension at some point but that it wasn’t an area I wanted to needlessly rotate in.  

Cameron Burgess makes contact with the ball.

Cameron Burgess makes contact with the ball. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“I know what Cam’s about as a player and it’s about waiting for an opportunity to come up. For us it’s not how we would have wanted it to happen and it’s tough for George, but this is what Cam is prepared for.” 

Left-footer Burgess will take right-footer Edmundson’s position on the left side of the Ipswich defence, but McKenna doesn’t see a particular advantage in having that level of balance across his back-line. 

He said: “In certain situations being left-footed can help you in that position, in terms of seeing passes to the outside. But there are some that are easier with your right and there are lots of examples in world football of right-footed centre-halves playing on the left side. 

“It’s not necessarily a benefit (for him to play on the left side) but it’s obviously better for Cam to go in and play on the left, rather than the right. 

“That should help him slot in but it’s maybe not a massive difference for the team.” 

Elkan Baggott in FA Youth Cup action against Liverpool

Elkan Baggott in FA Youth Cup action against Liverpool - Credit: Ross Halls

Edmundson’s injury leaves just Burgess, Luke Woolfenden and Janoi Donacien as senior centre-backs, with McKenna happy for academy defenders Elkan Baggott and Albie Armin to act as back-up. 

“Elkan’s trained with us for the last six weeks or so and has been an important part of our training group,” McKenna said. 

“He’s a player we really like and he’s been playing in all of our behind-closed-doors or in-house games. We think highly of him. 

“Albie has been up-and-down between us and the Under 23s over the last few weeks and has been with us this week, as well as Cameron Stewart. 

“Elkan has played international football (for Indonesia) and has played first-team games in the EFL Trophy before, as has Albie.  

“They are both well known to players in our squad and we’re happy for him to contribute. 

“We have some good players in the Under 23 group and have depth in the first-team squad. We’re a little short in certain positions but have cover and know we have a healthy academy below us.”