Drinan: I Want to Stay in the Team For as Long as Possible
Friday, 11th Sep 2020 13:39
Aaron Drinan has had to wait two and a half years to earn a first team place so it's understandable that he is in no hurry to let it slip away.
Town boss Paul Lambert has repeatedly warned players: "Once you get that jersey my advice would be to keep hold of it because you could find yourself a long time out."
It's a message that Drinan, likely to make his league debut for the club in Sunday's visit of Wigan to Portman Road, has taken to heart.
With Kayden Jackson nursing a groin injury, both James Norwood and Oli Hawkins still not up to speed and Freddie Sears preferred in a wide role, the Irishman is set to make it three first-team appearances on eight days after starring in the opening-day Carabao Cup win over Bristol Rovers and holding on to his place for the midweek EFL Trophy defeat at home to a lively Arsenal U21 side.
Drinan, 22, said: "I've had to be patient and wait for my chance. The other strikers were fit for the majority of last season and the gaffer thought the best thing for me was to go out on loan and get games week in, week out.
"I've come back to Ipswich, there have been a couple of injuries and I think I've done well in the striker role. The club were always checking how I was getting on, talking about the games I was playing and just generally how the loan was going."
Asked if he feared his opportunity would never come along, Drinan replied: "My mindset was always to keep working and carry on. Whatever your goal happens to be – in my case it was to play for the Ipswich Town first team – you have to keep going and I always believed it was going to happen for me."
Was he ever close to moving on? "No, I always believed something would happen for me here," he continued. "I always felt I was good enough to play here and now that I'm in the side I want to stay in it for as long as possible and make a good number of appearances this season.
"I have the best part of a year left on my contract and I would like nothing more than to do well enough to earn a new one and extend my stay."
Drinan, whose loan spells took him to non-league Sutton United, back to former club Waterford, abroad to Swedish club GAIS and then north of the border to Ayr United, is revelling in his role as spearhead.
He added: "If you want to play as a striker I think you have to love the role and the responsibility. One of the most important things is that you have to be able to make the ball stick when it is played up to you and bring other players into the game, while scoring goals is obviously a big factor as well.
"I'd obviously prefer to play through the middle but if the gaffer wanted me to play wide with one of the other guys in the middle I'd be happy to do that."
Looking back on his time away from Portman Road, he said: "Ayr was probably my best loan spell in terms of the experience. The football, and even the training, was more similar to the English game than the Swedish game was.
"I played well at Ayr and also when I went back to Waterford. They were a couple of good turning points for me. Going back to Waterford raised a lot of questions and it might not have looked that good to be returning on loan.
"But the standard over there is improving and there are a lot of good players coming into the league. I went back a better player than the one who had left to go to England."
Drinan credits Lambert and his staff for the improvement that has seen him grab his big chance, adding: "The gaffer has helped me a lot. I've added so much to my game since he's been at the club and his coaching, together with that of Stu [Stuart Taylor, assistant manager] and Gilly [Matt Gill, first team coach], and the way they've looked after me, has really improved me. I feel so much more confident when I'm out on the pitch and a lot of that is down to them.
"My background is different to the lads who have come through the academy. Some of them have been at the club since they were very young and they're now in the senior squad and playing for the first team.
"I only came here in 2017 but looking back at the player I was then and the player I am now, I'm completely different. I've improved physically and learned so much in terms of how to play the game, especially the number nine role.
"I've benefited from all my loan spells because I played regularly and came up against some big, strong central defenders. But I'd like to think I'm done with that now and all I want is to be playing for Ipswich Town."
Goalkeeper Harry Wright is currently on loan at GAIS and Drinan has no doubt the experience will prove beneficial. "Playing in Sweden was definitely a good experience for me," he said. "The style of play, the lifestyle, it was completely different to here.
"The only down side for me was that I was playing on the right wing out there. It's a lovely part of the world and I enjoyed my time. Harry's out there now and I need to send him a text, so thanks for reminding me about that."
So what does Drinan expect from his first League One season? He added: "I would say League One is a better standard than the League of Ireland, where I played before coming to Ipswich. It's more physical but my time in Ireland has given me an understanding of how it works here.
"I think it's similar in terms of the style of play and that my time in Ireland will stand me in good stead."
Photo: Matchday Images
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