Stephen Hunt has warned Ipswich Town's young players that he won't give up his starting position easily
PUBLISHED: 11:20 16 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:20 16 July 2014
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Stephen Hunt has warned Ipswich Town's young talent that the club's older players will not give up their starting places without a fight.
"I haven’t got time to mentor people – I’ve got to focus on getting in the team myself. Of course you try and help the young lads, but you can’t forget about yourself."
The exuberant Irishman, 32, jumped at the chance to sign a new one-year deal at Portman Road this summer after quickly becoming a central figure in a spirited dressing room last season.
And he’s made it very clear that he will do everything he can to play a central role on the pitch this season too, with manager Mick McCarthy having signed two other left-wingers in the form of the more junior Cameron Stewart, 23, and Alex Henshall, 20.
“It’s nice to be here when the new boys arrive so I can make sure they are settling in and doing things the Ipswich Town way,” said Hunt, speaking ahead of tonight’s pre-season friendly with West Ham at Portman Road (7.45pm).
“But listen, I haven’t got time to mentor people – I’ve got to focus on getting in the team myself. Of course you try and help the young lads, but you can’t forget about yourself. Chambo (Luke Chambers), Murph (Daryl Murphy) and myself do try and help them, but they have to take responsibility for themselves as well.
“The manager has told us all it’s a clean slate and we’re all trying to impress, but you can look absolutely a million dollars for the next six weeks but then, come the first game, you might poop yourself! I’m looking forward to the challenge and hopefully I’ll be in the starting XI.”
Hunt, who has spent the summer setting up his own gastro pub in Wexford, south east Ireland, continued: “Football has been a doddle compared to the last five or six weeks, let me tell you. Setting up my business has been fun, but absolutely manic.
“I’ve been doing plenty of swimming to get fit and I’m like a stone in the water, so that definitely gets my heart rate up. I’d rather do 100 miles on a bike than the lengths we’ve been doing. That’s been tough, but then again I’ve been in the gym with Murph and he’s an animal gym! That’s making me stronger for sure.
“I think my performances will be better this season in terms of goalscoring and getting on the end of a few crosses. I think I can definitely improve with a good pre-season behind me this time.”
He added: “I’m delighted to be back here. You can try and bit a bit brave and see what else is out there, but I’ve made that mistake in the past. I did have a couple of offers from other clubs, and it could have been easier to go somewhere closer to where my family want to settle, but I’d rather be here and cracking on where I know I’m happy.”
– Follow @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for live match updates tonight.