Matt Holland believes promotion is possible for Ipswich Town in 2015/16

Former Ipswich Town manager Matt Holland.

Former Ipswich Town manager Matt Holland.

Former Ipswich Town cult hero Matt Holland has backed the Blues for promotion in 2015-16 with the new Championship season less than two weeks away.

Having lost out to fierce rivals Norwich City in the play-off semi-finals last campaign, manager Mick McCarthy has bolstered the squad and is still looking to add two or three new faces before the opener at Brentford on August 8.

And Holland, who skippered Town during their promotion campaign of 1999/00 and worked under McCarthy’s management as a Republic of Ireland international, believes the omens are good.

“I do think promotion is possible this season,” said the 41-year-old. “I think the real positive is that the team spirit looked so much better last season.

“There appeared to be a real togetherness about the squad and everyone was pulling in the right direction. In terms of Mick, he is a brilliant man manager and won’t accept anybody not pulling their weight with him in charge.

“He is a very honest man and the players have responded to that superbly. His biggest strength is his ability to engineer a great atmosphere around the place.

“Tactically he is very good as well. He identifies his player’s strengths and plays to them.

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“A good start is nice but not season defining. It is possible in the Championship to put a good run together at any time and climb the table quickly.”

With last season’s sixth-place finish representing the club’s best season in a decade there was always going to be speculation surrounding potential departures heading into the summer.

Left-back Tyrone Mings was sold to newly-promoted Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth for £8m, striker Daryl Murphy has signed a new two-year deal, while midfielder Teddy Bishop has said he knows he is at the right club to progress.

The only real question mark now surrounds front man David McGoldrick, a player entering the final year of his contract.

On the latter, Holland said: “I hope he is settled for the long-term, but if somebody from the Premier League were to make an offer of course it would be very difficult for him to turn down.

“It is good news that Daryl Murphy has signed a new contract though and it will be interesting to see how much of the Tyrone Mings money is available to Mick.”

Town’s pre-season preparations continue with a game at Colchester United tonight (7.45pm KO).

Former U’s man Freddie Sears and fellow striker Brett Pitman missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Peterborough with thigh and foot knocks respectively, but McCarthy is hopeful both will fit for the match at The Weston Community Stadium.

Midfielder Cole Skuse missed Saturday’s game with a minor knock and is expected to be rested again tonight, with triallist Giles Coke being given another run out.

– Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates.

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