Woolfenden determined to seize his chance as centre-back search continues
Luke Woolfenden is determined to use Ipswich Town’s lack of central defenders to his advantage as he looks to nail down a place in Paul Hurst’s starting XI.
The homegrown 19-year-old has played well in all four of the senior side’s pre-season friendlies to date, with Luke Chambers currently the only senior central defender at the club.
While the Ipswich manager is working tirelessly to add two new centre-backs to his squad following the departure of Adam Webster to Bristol City, Woolfenden is hoping to have impressed Hurst enough to secure a place in the team come the Championship opener against Blackburn Rovers, at Portman Road, a week on Saturday.
“I’m really enjoying it because I’ve played a lot of minutes and have been training every day with the first team,” he said.
“He (Chambers) is a great player to have there, really easy to play with, and he’s there to talk you through the game which is great for a young player.
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“I was hoping to be involved, rather than expecting, and I’ve come back fit so I didn’t see a reason why I couldn’t be in the first team.
“Obviously we’ve not got that many central defenders at the club at the moment, with Webby leaving, so I see that as a chance to cement my place in the first team.
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“Or just a place in the first team squad given I am around them every day.
“There’s a fair chance for everyone and you just have to take your chance and impress him (Hurst). He’s always watching along with Doigy (Chris Doig, assistant) and he’s always onto me about being on your toes.”
Woolfenden spent much of last season on loan in the National League with Bromley and, having impressed earlier in the season as a young Blues side lost valiantly at Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup, returned to Portman Road to make his Championship debut at Reading under Bryan Klug in April.
“I really enjoyed last season at Bromley,” he said. “They helped me both as a person and as a football player. I came back towards the end of last season and to make my full Championship debut against Reading was a real bonus.
“It was a good game to play in because there was no real pressure on us, so it was an easy-ish game to make my debut in. I know it won’t be like that every week.”
Speaking after Woolfenden produced an assured display in Tuesday night’s 1-0 friendly win at MK Dons, Hurst said: “Credit to Luke Woolfenden, he’s looking a good player, but is he ready to play 46 games of the season? We all know that’s certainly not the case. That’s nothing against him.”