Skuse: The Title is the Target
Thursday, 8th Aug 2019 17:10
Town players are not just focused on winning promotion this season, with Cole Skuse admitting the main aim is to do it in style by also capturing the League One title.
“We believe we can do it and we’re not hiding away from it,” said the midfielder, who is on target to make his 250th first team appearance for the club in the next few weeks. “It is one of our in-house goals to do exactly that.”
Last week’s 1-0 win at Burton got the new campaign off to the best possible start for manager Paul Lambert and his players and they will be attempting to snatch another three points when Sunderland, like Town one of the bookies’ pre-season favourites to go up, roll up at Portman Road on Saturday.
Skuse, at 33 the oldest Town player on show at the Pirelli Stadium, admits he is more appreciative now of his life as a footballer than in the early stages of his career with home-town club Bristol City, from whom he moved to Suffolk just over six years ago.
He said: “You don’t always think like that when you’re in the middle of pre-season training – you’re wishing the days away a bit then.
“But once the season starts and you’re in a flow of games, and you wake up the day after a game with the usual aches and pains, you cherish every single bruise.
“As much as I want to play on for as long as I can – I’ve been lucky with injuries and I look after myself well – you begin to realise you’re not going to go on for ever and that the end is not a million miles away.”
Skuse is open to the idea of dropping into the Town backline if it extends his playing career, something club legend John Wark benefited from in his latter years.
“It has been discussed and I’m very open-minded,” he explained. “If I’m asked to play there, or at right-back, I’m not one to say I’m not going to do it.
“I don’t have the right to do that and I’d be more than willing. I believe it’s something I could do.
“I moved alongside Luke Woolfenden last week when James Wilson was suffering from cramp in the closing stages at Burton last week.
“Willo hadn’t played a competitive game for a while but he did well for the 80 minutes or so he was on the pitch. The gaffer just said to fill in for him and see out the game. It worked well.
“I’ve played at the back before, more so in my time at Bristol City, and I’ve even had a broken nose to show for it.
“It came out of the blue when I played there at Bramall Lane last season but I enjoyed it just the same.”
Skuse is only one of several midfielders in Lambert’s senior squad and when they are all fit he knows the competition for first-team places will be that much harder.
“We have an abundance of midfield players and there are all sorts – young and old, attacking and defensive,” he added.
“It’s really refreshing to have such a varied group to suit all formations. I’ve started the season and I want to keep my place but that’s the gaffer’s decision.
“One of our best young midfielders is Flynn Downes. I’ve said it before about Flynn and I know this isn’t what everybody will want to hear, but I don’t think he’s going to be at the club much longer because I believe he is destined to play at the very top.
“You don’t get selected to play for your country unless you’re a top player. As a group we need to achieve our goal of winning promotion, which might keep him here a bit longer.”
Downes’s red card in the pre-season goalless draw at Cambridge, when he reacted angrily to a robust challenge and head-butted an opponent, was an obvious cause for concern but Skuse continued: “He’s a young man and he will learn from his mistakes. Some of us had a few words with him after the Cambridge game and he admitted he’d got it wrong.
“He held his hands up and I like to think that if a similar situation arises again he will deal with it differently. It doesn’t matter how old we are, we’re still learning, and Flynn will be fine.”
Another youngster, central defender Luke Woolfenden, impressed at Burton as he helped to keep a clean sheet and Skuse had a close-up view when he partnered him in the closing stages.
“When I played next to Luke at the back I saw that despite his age he plays as if he has a very old head on his shoulders,” he added.
“He was fantastic at Burton and it can be a massive positive for him that he is so laidback and calm.
“There are times on a Monday morning when you feel like getting a set of jump leads on him and asking him to give you a bit more.
“But on match days he is really at it. I was shouting at him a few times at Burton and he was just saying ‘Yes, yes’ and getting the job done.
“He and James Wilson really hit it off and in Willo’s case, when he had not played a competitive game for so long, he was amazing too.”
With skipper Luke Chambers having served a one-game suspension last weekend, Skuse will have no problem giving up the armband against Sunderland.
He said: “If Chambo’s back in I’ll be happy to hand it over. I’ve said it many times, he is the best captain I’ve played under and I’m not just saying it because we are very good friends as well as team-mates.
“He’s brilliant for all the lads and the stuff you don’t see, because it’s off the field, is second to none.”
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