Woolfenden Determined to Keep Place
Thursday, 12th Sep 2019 16:59
Town defender Luke Woolfenden is determined not to surrender his first-team place now that the vastly more experienced Toto Nsiala is fit again and anxious to return to action having fully recovered from the hamstring injury that has kept him on the sidelines so far this season.
Woolfenden has been virtually ever-present in the current campaign, only missing the Carabao Cup defeat at Luton as boss Paul Lambert took the opportunity to reshuffle his pack, as well as the 5-0 away thrashing of crisis club Bolton, an occasion when Lambert opted to give him a rest as part of what the manager sees as an ongoing rotation system based on the number of games that lie ahead.
The youngster said: “The rotation and the competition for places is always good to keep everyone firing and on their toes.
“There are a lot of games and the way the manager rotates his squad will probably be key. But I’ll admit I don’t want to be the one dropping out now that Toto is fit again.
“I’d play every game if I could and that probably goes for all the lads. I’m only 20 and the way I feel I believe I could play every game. But that’s probably unlikely so I’ll be looking to play as many games as I possibly can.
"It’s a big season for the club – the very minimum we want is promotion but the main aim is to win the league. We’re all buying into that and we have to deal with the pressure that comes with it.
“Last year I played very well in pre-season then I came off the bench on the opening day of the season against Blackburn and had a good game.
“Then I got injured and when I was fit again I was off to Swindon on loan. But it wasn’t a bad thing because I don’t think I’d have done what I did last season at Swindon here at Ipswich.”
Woolfenden laughed as he was reminded how Lambert jokingly described him earlier in the season as being so laidback that he might need to connect him to a set of jump leads.
“People have been saying that my whole life, to be fair, so it’s not just the gaffer that thinks it,” added the player, who also had a loan spell at non-league Bromley during the second half of the 2017/18 season.
“I was like it as a child when I was at school. The teacher might have been shouting at me but I didn’t really react because I wasn’t too bothered.
“As far back as I can remember I’ve been laidback and my parents have told me I’ve always been the same. It’s just the way I am.
“I agree there is a thin line between being too laidback and taking it easy, so the gaffer is right that I probably need a kick up the backside on certain occasions.
“It’s just me and who I am as a person, really. On and off the pitch I’m laidback and I’m not the type of guy to get too excited or upset about things. It is what it is – that’s my life motto.
“I think you can see it from the way I play. I like to get on the ball and if I was flustered and nervous every time the ball came near me I wouldn’t be able to play my game.
“I like to stay cool and I think it helps me a lot when I’m out there on the pitch, knowing when to pass and when to just get rid of the ball. I feel it can benefit me as a player because I don’t really lose my temper.”
It was his first manager at Swindon was Phil Brown, who light-heartedly remarked that he wanted young Woolfenden to pick up a few war wounds – “get a few stitches, like a proper centre-half” – as he made his way in the game,
But the youngster said: “More than anything it’s about being ready for the fight. You know it’s going to come and you can’t shy away from it.
“But I see one of my major strengths as my ability to read the game quite well. I like to make interceptions and clearances, which I’ve done a lot this season.
“I’ve always played at the back for as long as I can remember. I was quite tall even when I first started playing so they just put me at the back and I’ve stayed there ever since.
“I’ve never set out to be like anyone else. I just go out and do my own thing. I’ve seen all the best defenders, the same as everyone else has, but I’ve always just done my own thing.
“I would say I’m a modern-day defender because I’m happy to get the ball and play out from the back.”
One of the best things about having broken into the first team at such an early age is that he has plenty of his contemporaries for company. “That’s a big help because you’re playing with your mates,” he added.
“I’ve been at the club since I was 12 and to be in the first team dressing room with lads I’ve know all that time is really nice. It makes it a lot easier.”
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