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Woolfenden on being a modern day defender, winding up Morison and wanting to play every game

PUBLISHED: 17:09 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:24 13 September 2019

All smiles from Luke Woolfenden at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: ROSS HALLS

All smiles from Luke Woolfenden at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: ROSS HALLS

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Ipswich Town defender Luke Woolfenden is not ready to give up his place in the first team.

Luke Woolfenden wins a header in the EFL Trophy win against Tottenham's Under-21s. Photo: Steve WallerLuke Woolfenden wins a header in the EFL Trophy win against Tottenham's Under-21s. Photo: Steve Waller

The 20-year-old - who is both super laid-back and brimming with confidence - has started five of the Blues' six leagues games so far, with Paul Lambert's men flying high at the top end of the League One table following an unbeaten start.

However, competition for the centre-back starting slots has just intensified with Toto Nsiala returning from a hamstring injury to put pressure on skipper Luke Chambers, Woolfenden and summer signing James Wilson.

"Competition is always good," said Woolfenden, speaking ahead of tomorrow's visit of Doncaster. "There will be a lot of games, so rotation will be key, but everyone wants to play every game.

"I'm only 20 so I feel like I could play every game. That would be very unlikely, I know, but I want to play in as many games as I possibly can this year. Yes, Toto is back now, but I still want to play. Hopefully it won't be me that drops out."

Luke Woolfenden in pre-season action at Cambridge United. Photo: PagepixLuke Woolfenden in pre-season action at Cambridge United. Photo: Pagepix

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Born in Ipswich, Woolfenden grew up a Town fan. The former East Bergholt pupil has made the first team breakthrough at his boyhood club following an impressive loan season at League Two club Swindon Town.

"It's been a good start to the season, both for me personally and the team, and hopefully that can continue to be the case," he said.

"I wasn't necessarily expecting to play this many so soon, but I was always confident I could play at this level.

Luke Woolfenden looks to intercept at Burton Albion. Picture: PagepixLuke Woolfenden looks to intercept at Burton Albion. Picture: Pagepix

"Last summer I felt ready. I played very well in pre-season, came on opening day of the season and had a good game, then I got injured and I was out on loan.

"I don't think it was a bad thing - being away from Ipswich helped me grow up - but I also don't think I wouldn't have done what I did at Swindon had I stayed at Ipswich."

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On his time with the Robins, he said: "Swindon is a big club and everything they do is under scrutiny. When you have a bad game for the 23s you can brush it under the carpet, but when you're playing where points are crucial then you can't let performances slide. That pressure improves you.

Luke Woolfenden (second left) shares a joke with fellow Ipswich Town academy graduates Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Tristan Nydam. Photo: Steve WallerLuke Woolfenden (second left) shares a joke with fellow Ipswich Town academy graduates Flynn Downes, Andre Dozzell and Tristan Nydam. Photo: Steve Waller

"Where I improved most was probably off the ball. I could always play football, but physically I've improved a lot when it comes to heading and defending."

A self-professed 'modern day' defender who prefers to read the game than go to war, Woolfenden has earned plenty of plaudits in recent weeks. Manager Paul Lambert has said the youngster 'needs a kick up the backside' sometimes though, while team-mate Cole Skuse joked that 'sometimes you want to put the jump leads on him'.

"Everyone has said that to me my whole life to be fair, so I don't think it's going to change any time soon!" laughed Woolfenden.

"There is a fine line between being laid back and taking it too far. He (Lambert) is right, sometimes I do need a kick up the backside, but only on certain occasions.

Luke Woolfenden was a key player during his loan spell at Swindon Town. Picture: DAVE EVANSLuke Woolfenden was a key player during his loan spell at Swindon Town. Picture: DAVE EVANS

"That's just me as a person - on and off the field I'm fairly laid back. I'm not one of those people who gets excited too much and I don't get upset about anything or lose my temper. It is what it is. It's kind of my life motto.

"The other week, Steve Morison (Shrewsbury striker) ended up winding himself up just because I wasn't reacting. He kept standing on my toes and throwing little digs in, but that doesn't bother me. I just said 'you can do what you want'.

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"Being calm and cool like that suits the way I play. I'm a modern day defender, I do like to get on the ball, so if I was all flustered and nervous every time the ball came to me I wouldn't be able to play my game.

Luke Woolfenden in action for Swindon Town. Picture: DAVE EVANSLuke Woolfenden in action for Swindon Town. Picture: DAVE EVANS

"I watch the best defenders, obviously, but I've never thought 'I want to be like him or him'. I just go out there and do me."

With Town looking to reclaim top spot following an international break, Woolfenden added: "We (the players) all say that the minimum we want is promotion. But we also want to win the league. Everyone is buying into that mentality. We've got to deal with the pressure."

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