Michael Chopra to be given special pre-season programme by Ipswich Town

MICHAEL Chopra will be offered round-the-clock support this summer in a bid to stave off his inner demons.

The striker has had a difficult first season at Ipswich Town, top scoring with 14 goals but being blighted by off-the-pitch problems including three court cases involving driving offences.

Topping them all, he gave a heartfelt admission in November over the extent of the gambling addiction which saw him checked into the Sporting Chance clinic.

But on the pitch, he has given a glimpse of his undoubted potency and, while manager Paul Jewell has identified a new forward among his summer transfer targets, Chopra will remain Town’s top goal threat.

Jewell revealed that he would be sending Chopra – and others – away during this summer’s extended break in a bid to make him razor-sharp for the start of next season.

Fully aware of how important the striker is to Town’s chances of success, Jewell said: “We have to get him in pristine condition. Michael has had his problems this year, which have been well-documented.

“The club is doing all we can. There are certain players that have certain programmes and we will be sending him away to a retreat to get him in better shape.

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“He is not the only one – we have a couple of players who we have ideas for over the summer, in terms of fitness levels.”

Chopra’s 14 goals made him the league’s seventh top scorer but he actually failed to hit the net in 35 games – ending the season with just one goal in the last 13 matches.

And the manager warned: “I have told him it is a huge close season for him. We can send him places and do all we can and we will always have someone helping him 24 hours a day.

“But he has to want to do it.”