New Dad Dozzell Never Saw Future Away From Portman Road
Friday, 18th Sep 2020 13:39
Town midfielder Andre Dozzell, who recently became a father for the first time, is adamant he never saw his future away from Portman Road, despite his struggle to hold down a regular first-team place.
Played four, started four, is his record so far this season and the 21-year-old is considered a certain starter in manager Paul Lambert’s line-up for tomorrow’s game at Bristol Rovers.
Asked if he always believed he would become a regular choice, Dozzell responded: “I always felt like I could make it here, 100 per cent, and play consistently. It’s all about me being able to show what I can do and hopefully this is the season when I’ll be doing that.
“I’ve never even spoken about a loan move. My aim has never changed – I just wanted to play my way into the side and stay there. I knew I was good enough so it was just about having the chance to prove it.”
Dozzell was reminded about the speculation that Norwich wanted to recruit him last year and added: “There was interest but I’m not too sure about that to be honest. It was a weird one but I was just focusing on my football and took no notice of that.”
The youngster was tipped for the top even before he was handed his debut at the age of 16 by then boss Mick McCarthy and celebrated by scoring in Town’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
But his progress was brought to an abrupt halt when he sustained an ACL – anterior cruciate ligament – injury in the first game of the 2017/18 season against Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City at Portman Road and it wasn’t until 14 months later that he returned to action.
He said: “It’s been hard, like I said, but I can’t speak highly enough of Mick. But after my injury when a new manager [Paul Hurst] came in, he maybe thought ‘He’s been out for a year, I’m not too sure’.
“And once another new manager came in [Paul Lambert], I’ve not played under the last manager, so maybe he’s thinking ‘He’s not played under that manager’. I just kept my head down and kept trying to work hard and show what I can do.”
He says that along with the spell out injured the short period when Hurst was in charge were the toughest.
“That probably was, along with the injury,” he reflected. “Because before that I started the previous season well, I was with England, won that trophy [the UEFA European U19 Championship in 2017] and then I had the injury, was out for a year.
“The new manager, saw me, didn’t really want to risk me or whatever, put me in the U23s, so that probably was a difficult time. But you’ve just got to keep your head down and keep working.”
He added: “By the time Paul Lambert came in I had been out for more than a year, so I needed to start all over again. It was a difficult time but I came through it. I kept my head down, worked hard and it’s happening for me now.
“I spoke quite regularly to the gaffer about my situation but we had, and still have, a lot of good midfielders at the club and it’s not been easy.
“I’ve been focusing on a lot of different things, like how I can improve as a player off the ball, and I believe I have become better. It all helps when the gaffer is picking the team.”
Looking back at the 1-0 midweek defeat in the Carabao Cup to Fulham, he went on: “We showed a lot of confidence on Wednesday and stuck to our game plan, and considering it was against a good Premier League side I think there were a number of positives to take from that performance into Saturday’s game at Bristol Rovers when we will definitely be looking to take the three points.”
Town will be looking to add to last Sunday’s home win over Wigan when they head west tomorrow and with a home clash against Rochdale to follow on Saturday week it gives them an opportunity to build some momentum and maybe even claim top spot in the table, as they did last year with an impressive start.
“Momentum is key in this league,” added Dozzell. “Once you get two or three wins it can become four, five, six. Hopefully we can do that and keep going.”
The player had praise for manager Lambert, continuing: “I’ve learned a lot from him, to be fair. Obviously, he played at a top level and won major honours, so it would be nice to take a leaf out of his book and progress my career.
“I’m very ambitious and one day I want to be playing in the Premier League. That is one of my dreams for the future. I haven’t tried to mould my game on others – I think I’m my own player – but when I’m watching Premier League games on television I always find myself focusing on the midfielders, what they are doing and how they are playing.
“I see things that I can take from their games and work on it for myself. But there is only one immediate target and that is promotion this season for Ipswich.
“They are my club and I’ve been here since I was eight. It would be a dream come true to get promoted and that’s what we have set out to do this season. Ipswich are too big a club to be sitting in League One and we’ve got to do everything we can this season to get back to the Championship.”
He may be in the final year of his contract but Dozzell insists that is not in his thoughts at the moment. He said: “Right now it’s all about playing and doing the best I can. We’re only four games into the new season and all I want is to have a consistent run and show people what I can do.
“I’m not thinking about the contract situation, just concentrating on my football. I believe everything will take care of itself.”
Dozzell is also celebrating the birth of his son, Lorenzo, who is almost nine weeks old. If he carries on the family tradition a debut Blues goal should be on the cards for the 2036/37 season.
“It’s like I’m in a whole new world now,” he laughed. “He’s a big boy and I hear they grow up so quickly, so it’s all a bit weird at the moment. I’m a father, not a kid any more, and I like to think I’m growing up on the pitch too. Long may it continue.”
Finally, Dozzell doesn’t subscribe to the theory that football is easier behind closed doors since players are not subjected to spectators’ moans and groans.
“I don’t know about that,” he said, “because with no crowd the one thing you can definitely hear is the gaffer shouting at you!”
Photo: Matchday Images
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