Head coach Mark Bonner sat down with local media on Thursday morning to preview his sides clash at Portman Road on Saturday (2nd April)…
On the prospect of going to Portman Road and facing Ipswich…
“It’s funny isn’t it, when the fixtures came out, there was a batch of away games towards the end of the season that you look at as the eye-catching fixtures. It’s definitely one of the fixtures that the players have been looking forward to, as well as the fans.
“There are a few games between now and the end of the season where we get to go up against some really top teams in some iconic stadiums, and Saturday is certainly one to really look forward it.
“I hope the players thrive in the atmosphere, against a good side that have done really well since Keiran McKenna has come in, and they of course still have a chance of making the play-offs. So I’m hoping we can go there and give the best account of ourselves.
“They’ve kept an incredible number of clean sheets, as well as picking up an impressive number of wins since Keiran came in. Let’s be honest, they should be getting promoted automatically with their team, so there’s no surprise that they are fighting for the play-offs, the only surprise really was that they were so far off the play-offs at one point.
“We know how tough the task is, as the pattern of the entire season has gone, we know we have to be at our very best if we are going to get anything from the game on Saturday.
“It’s a league of two league’s really, we know that, and we’re almost going up against a team in the league above us on Saturday”
On the battle for places in United’s team…
“We’ve got quite a lot of attacking options up front at the minute, so for us we’re trying to look at different partnerships, different players and to find the best outcome is important to us.
“Knibbsy did very well in the game against MK Dons, and we went with pretty much the same team in the game at the weekend as we’d worked on it for the entire week.
“The performance as a whole against MK Dons I thought was excellent, and we took nothing, whereas on Saturday it very much went in a direction I thought it maybe would, and we took all three points.”
“Wes is a Norwich boy so he does like the Ipswich games. We’ll see where he is for that. We know how influential he can and has been, so the options that we have got gives us a nice scope that we can look into for the remaining seven games.”
On looking ahead to next season…
“We’ve not yet had discussions with anyone yet about next season. We know now where we are in the table and it does give us the opportunity to put in motion the work towards next season.
“Obviously work is always going on behind the scenes planning for next season, but this season has been a particularly intense season in terms of the number of games and the quick turnaround between games, so there’s not been too much chance for us to have a look into next season.
“The end of Lloyd’s [Jones] rehab came at a time where we weren’t able to do any back four practices and we couldn’t use much of the training ground, so he ended up doing the final part of his rehab against Wycombe Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday.
“I thought he was good against Shrewsbury and outstanding against MK Dons and Wimbledon last weekend. To be honest it’s what we expect because we know he’s a very good centre back and he improves our team.
“Whether he’ll play all three games over the next week is our decision to make as we need to be sensible about how we use him so we can maintain his fitness for the remainder of the season.
“It’s been tough for Lorent [Tolaj] since he came in. He came in firstly in a period where we weren’t training, so it was really hard for him to a. train, and b. show us what he can do in training with the number of sessions we had available.”
“He was able to get a few minutes early on but at that time Sam [Smith] was the number nine and was scoring goals and then, in truth, Joey [Ironside] returned to fitness a hell of a lot sooner than we ever though he would, and of course, he’s our main man.
“All he can do is to keep training and working hard, as well as trying to contribute to the squad, and then wait for the opportunity to arise in the final seven games.
“Liam O’Neil hasn’t been out this week yet; he’s been struggling a little bit with his calf, so we’ll have to see what the next couple of days brings but I’m not 100% sure if he’ll be available for Saturday yet.
“We’ll keep an eye on Jack [Iredale] over the next couple of days to see if he’s ready to contribute anything to us on Saturday, but it may come a little too early for him.”
“Everyone else is good to go for Saturday.”
“We can certainly expect some changes to the squad over the next seven days.”