'I'm demanding it now' - Cook challenges Town players to stand up and be counted

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook on the touchline during the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road,

Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook says his players have to show him what they're made of in the last ten games of the season - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook has challenged his players to show him what they're made of as the Blues enter the defining part of the season.

Cook has seen his charges win just one of his first six games in charge, taking five points from a possible 18 and sliding back to a lowly 11th spot in League One.

Despite that poor run, they are still very much in the play-off mix, two points off Blackpool in sixth, ahead of games with bottom two Bristol Rovers (home, Friday) and Rochdale (away, Monday) over Easter.

With 13 first team players out of contract in the summer, many are playing for their Town futures, as well as the play-offs - and Cook wants to see a reaction.

Paul Cook issues instructions at Wigan

Paul Cook issues instructions to Kayden Jackson at Wigan. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“There are 10 games now," he said. "We all know the contract situation. My message to the players is ‘let’s see what we’re really about’. 

“Promotions are the best days of your life. They’ve got to feel and taste that we are so close. If we beat Bristol Rovers and Rochdale then we are back in the play-off places.

"Am I asking too much? I don’t think I am. In fact, I’m demanding it now."

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Asked if he was looking for more character and personality from his players, Cook said: “I’m a very open manager who tries to answer the questions. At the minute, if you ask me too much you’ll lead me to say one or two things about the team that is lacking. 

Ipswich Manager Paul Cook at another of his former clubs - Wigan Athletic

Paul Cook watched Town draw 0-0 in a drab game at Wigan last Saturday - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“Supporters know what’s lacking, you know what’s lacking. We don’t need to keep telling each other. We’ve got to go away and find it. Find those ingredients to make a nice meal. That’s what I'm paid very well to do."

He added: “I’ll shoulder all that pressure for the players. That’s my job.  

“In this league if you win two or three games then things can change quickly. 

“It’s like starting a marathon. You’ve got to do the first mile. We’re at the starting blocks and we know it’s going to be tough, but we can do it."