Ryan Stevenson’s praise for midfield rivals Byron Lawrence and Jimmy Bullard

RYAN Stevenson knows he has a fight on his hands if he is going to make a place in the Blues midfield his own.

But the gritty Scot is relishing the challenge – whether it comes among current team mates or through new signings.

Town have already been linked with a number of new additions in the fortnight since their disappointing Championship season ended.

And Stevenson, who ended the campaign at Doncaster with a contender for goal of the season, has nothing but praise for his midfield rivals.

The 3-2 win at the Keepmoat Stadium saw 16-year-old Byron Lawrence make his Blues’ debut and, at the other end of the age scale, the return of 33-year-old Jimmy Bullard following a five-month hiatus.

With Andy Drury and Luke Hyam also vying for places, and Jewell mulling over whether to dip into the transfer market to replace former skipper Grant Leadbitter, the centre of Town’s midfield should be the most eagerly-contested position next season.

Stevenson, whose wife has recently given birth to their first child, said: “I have been impressed with everything about Ipswich. Coming down here, it was always going to take a bit of time to settle.

Most Read

“But I have settled quicker than I thought I would. I love the area and I have even had presents from fans for my baby. I am looking forward to next season, trying to play well and helping the team.”

Having struggled at first to adapt to Championship football, the �50,000 signing from Hearts will be hoping to take his end-of-season form into next year.

And while he can play out wide and also behind the frontman, Stevenson has nothing but praise about two of his midfield rivals.

Despite his tender years, Lawrence clearly has a fan in the 27-year-old who said: “Byron will have a big future. He has come into the first team squad since I have been here and I have been really impressed.

“He is a technically good player with a good brain. But more than that, he is a good lad. For a young boy, he takes everything in his stride.”

But while Lawrence might be the future, Stevenson also believes Bullard will come good next year after a hugely disappointing 12 months.

He added: “It’s good to have Jimmy back – it is only going to help the lads. He is a tremendous player who has played at the top level for a long time. It’s great to have this competition for places.”