New man Michael Chopra pledges to focus on football after tough first year

IT was a marquee signing that heralded great hope among the Blues faithful.

But while Town fans are still hoping for a transfer to rival that of Michael Chopra’s 12 months ago, the man himself is doing all he can ahead of next week’s official start of pre-season.

Chopra endured a turbulent first season at Portman Road with a public admittance of his gambling addiction – including a spell in the Sporting Chance clinic – and three appearances in court for driving offences.

On-the-pitch, he fired 14 goals to become Town’s best top scorer for five years but his overall form was often patchy and he spent time on the sidelines with manager Paul Jewell, at times, admitting that his leading marksman’s fitness was an issue.

Faced with a four-month gap between the final game of last season and the August 18 opener at home to Blackburn Rovers, Chopra was one of several players given a dedicated summer training programme – with the 28-year-old just back from a fitness camp in California.

And keen to underline his commitment to the cause, the striker posted a series of pictures of his work in America on Twitter and also his fitness card showing his weight loss.

Chopra also tweeted: “ camp done lost quite a bit of weight looking forward to the new season people will see a new michael.”

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That will be music to Town fans’ ears as concern over the lack of transfer activity emanating out of Portman Road grows.

Championship rivals Derby County yesterday completed the signing of 21-year-old Northampton Town winger Michael Jacobs, one of the many youngsters linked with Ipswich this summer.

There are signs of other clubs in the division starting to show some life while Town can count the number of new arrivals on one finger – teenage right-back Elliott Hewitt signing from Macclesfield.

Chopra will again be expected to be Town’s main goal threat next year but Jewell has made it clear a new striker is among his many targets.

Jason Scotland will sign a 12-month extension when he arrives back in Suffolk ahead of pre-season training while former Town loanee Ricardo Fuller is among the targets after his release from Stoke City.

Nathan Ellington is expected to start pre-season with Ipswich but his future is far from certain while Ronan Murray will be hoping this will be his breakthrough year at Portman Road.