Woolfenden: Our Aim is to Win the League
Monday, 15th Jul 2019 06:00
Centre-half Luke Woolfenden is in no doubt that winning League One is Town’s aim for the season ahead.
Woolfenden was speaking following yesterday's four-team Interwetten Cup in which the Blues finished fourth, a tournament which came at the end of the club’s pre-season training camp in Germany with the squad flying back today.
“It’s been good,” the 20-year-old said. “Obviously there’s not much to do [at the hotel] so it’s been tight-knit really, there’s no wifi out there so you’re forced to speak to each other!
“Yes, it’s been enjoyable. We’ve got a lot of work in which will benefit us when we start the season.”
Does he believe the Blues are a better team for the camp? “I think we’re a closer team. At the start of pre-season there are always so many little mistakes and a bit of rustiness coming in.
“That’s what pre-season games are for, getting the mistakes out, getting the rustiness out, then when the season begins to start with a bang.”
The former East Bergholt High School pupil says there’s been less running this year than last year under former boss Paul Hurst and his staff but believes the squad will still be just as fit.
“I don’t think there’s been as much running, I’d say disguised running really, a lot of little games,” he reflected.
“So instead of running we’ve been playing games which will get you just as fit as straight line running. It’s been different but it’s still been hard.”
He says the new boys have settled in well, particularly striker James Norwood, who scored his first goal in a Town shirt in the 4-1 defeat to Fortuna.
“Nors has settled in very well and scored today. He’s settled in with the lads quickly and I think he’ll be a big player for us this season,” he said.
Woolfenden says an out and out finisher like Norwood was something which was missing from the squad last season.
“As you saw today he can finish, he had one chance and scored and should have had a penalty,” he continued.
“He’s a handful up there, so that was probably what they were missing last year, an out and out goalscorer. Hopefully he can carry on scoring as he did today during the season.”
He added: “He is a handful. We were defending crosses the other day and nine times out of 10 they were landing on his head so he is a handful.”
As well as on the field Norwood has made his mark off it with the squad as well: “He’s a good craic, to be fair!”
Woolfenden spent last season on loan at Swindon where he made 36 starts and scored two goals and says he benefited from the experience: “It has improved me as a player. I got a lot of games down in that league so hopefully it’ll stand me in good stead when the season comes and I can get a place in the starting XI here.”
Having got those League Two matches under his belt with the Robins, he is now targeting becoming a regular in League One with the Blues.
“Definitely, I want to play every game, that’s my hope, aim or whatever, that’s what I want to do, play every week,” he said.
“I don’t really want to go out on loan again, I want to be playing every week so we’ll see what happens.”
During his previous loan spell, in the National League with Bromley, Woolfenden played at right-back rather than centre-half but he says he sees the middle of the defence as his primary position.
“I prefer centre-half. Obviously I play right-back and at centre-back but centre-back’s where I see myself,” he continued.
What has manager Paul Lambert said to him about the season ahead? “He’s just said it’s down to me really. If I play well enough then, he said age isn’t a problem, so if I play well enough then I should play.”
Woolfenden could get his chance to start on the opening day with skipper Luke Chambers suspended following his red card in the final game of last season against Leeds.
“Skip has always been important to the starting XI but if he’s missing the first game someone’s got to play in the centre of the defence now, hopefully that will be my and if it is then I’ve just got to play well enough to keep my place in the team,” he added.
Woolfenden is one of a number of youngsters coming through into the first team at the same time and he says it’s beneficial that they’re all emerging together.
“I think it does, we’re all pretty close, we’ve all grown up together since we were 13 or 14 coming through together,” he said.
“I think it makes it easier, the environment as well when there’s a lot of people you know straight away and that you’re mates with.”
He added: “I’m from Ipswich, me and Doz used to play Sunday league together when we were nine, so it’s literally like playing with your mates you’ve grown up with.
“I joined the club when I was 11, that’s nine years now. It feels like home walking into training every day, I know where everything is, I know everyone. Just comfortable really. I’ve been here for nine years so if I’m not comfortable now I never will be.”
Looking forward to the season proper, Woolfenden has no doubts about that Town should be targeting an immediate return to the Championship.
“Yes, definitely,” he insisted. “Our aim is to win the league, no doubt about it, straight back in the Championship where I think, at the minimum, we belong.
“It’s a big club, it’s a big stadium and I think with the players we’ve got, if we put it all together and it all comes together then I think we should go up.”
Photos: TWTD/Werner Scholz
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