‘It doesn’t have to be a target man... Freddie’s movement is a big asset’ - Hurst on Sears
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Paul Hurst is confident Freddie Sears can lead the line for Ipswich Town despite not fitting the traditional target-man mould.
Sears impressed at Swansea as he ran the channels and occupied the Welsh side’s defence for much of Town’s 3-2 win, with the former Colchester man and summer signing Kayden Jackson now shouldering the load up front following injuries to Jon Walters and Ellis Harrison.
Walters and Harrison offer more physicality and a bigger aerial presence than Sears, who forced Mike van der Hoorn’s own goal at the Liberty Stadium, but Hurst believes Sears’ movement and quick-thinking mean he is capable of playing up front alone.
“It certainly doesn’t have to be a big target man,” Hurst said. “There’s a stereotype there. What they often have is pace. Freddie is certainly not slow, but his biggest asset, to me, is his movement.
“There’s a saying that the first couple of yards is in the head. Freddie sees things very quickly and is almost then reliant on his team-mates to understand what he’s going to do and where he’s going to move.
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“You’ve got to be willing to pass him the ball. There’s no point booting it over his head and hoping that he’ll win his headers. He’ll try his heart out for us, but that’s not his strength – clearly.”
Sears started on the opening day of the season against Blackburn in a wide role but then didn’t start a league game until the visit to Swansea, dropping out of the matchday squad for the home clash with rivals Norwich, before a groin injury also kept him sidelined.
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But Hurst believes the 28-year-old dealt with the situation well and, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game with Queens Park Rangers, the Ipswich boss is hoping the striker can reproduce his Swansea display if afforded a longer run in the side.
“There seemed to be a bit of fuss that Freddie wasn’t involved, but I think I left him out once and then he was injured,” Hurst said. “Those sort of things can always grow legs and get carried away.
“Freddie’s been fine, he’s that type of character. He comes into work, often has a smile on his face and gets on with his job. He’s a character in the changing room without being the loudest.
“His performance at Swansea rightly drew praise from the fans, his team-mates and myself. We’re hoping we can see more of that.”