Woolfenden: The Style of Play Suits Me
Friday, 30th Oct 2020 11:51
Town defender Luke Woolfenden has been won over by manager Paul Lambert’s preferred style of play this season to play out from the back.
“I think of myself as more of a ball-playing centre-back, as opposed to an out-and-out defender, so I’m comfortable with it and the style suits me,” the player admitted.
“The gaffer has made it clear what he expects from the centre-backs within this style of play.
“They have to play their part and it starts with us if we get the ball off Tomas. If we don’t we’re just going to be in for a long game of going back and forth really.”
Woolfenden returned to the side for Tuesday’s welcome win over Gillingham, which followed back-to-back defeats at Doncaster and Lincoln, and found himself alongside Arsenal loanee Mark McGuinness, who was making his league debut and first appearance for the Blues.
When it was pointed out to 22-year-old Woolfenden that he was the senior partner alongside the young Gunner, who is 19, he laughed: “Maybe it’s time to retire or get a testimonial. But seriously, it’s not really a situation where I need to be too responsible, not with Wardy and the skipper both there.
“Obviously, I am older than Mark and I will do all I can to assist him during games, talking to him where need be and that sort of thing.
“But as a back four, and especially since Wardy has come in, there’s more sharing of the communication that goes on throughout the game. The leadership is spread between us, I would say.
“I’ve been impressed with Mark since he played for Arsenal’s U21 side and they beat us in the EFL Trophy game at Portman Road. In that game I thought he was unreal.
“Even during the game everyone was saying ‘Who’s this kid?’ He was dealing with everything that came his way and I thought it was one of the best performances I had ever seen. He’s just carried on from there and he was great the other night.
“He’s unbelievable in the air but when we signed him I didn’t have a groan to myself. I had noted he was left-footed and obviously preferred playing on that side, while I’m better on the right, so I didn’t see him as a rival for my best position.”
Woolfenden knows all about the benefits of a loan spell elsewhere, having been at non-league Bromley and, in the 2018/19 season, when he played 36 games and helped Swindon to win promotion from League Two, predominantly featuring at right-back.
He added: “It did a lot for me and I hope Mark feels that joining Ipswich is going to work out well. He’s not like I was as a teenager – he talks a lot more and he’s alright in himself.”
Woolfenden was the subject of summer transfer rumours, with Sheffield United among those reported to have an interest in him, although no move transpired and he instead signed a new long-term deal to remain with the Blues.
He continued: “I couldn’t really tell you to be fair whether there was any truth in the rumours. I sorted out my new contract with Ipswich early doors and I wasn’t focused on the possibility of a transfer.
“I’d made it clear I wanted to stay here and wasn’t looking to move. I was delighted to extend my stay with Ipswich. I want to help in getting them back to the Championship and beyond, and hopefully I can do that.”
The young defender went into the lockdown by joining the online craze among professional players to juggle toilet rolls and emerged with a new hairstyle, ditching the shaved head to instead reveal flowing locks.
He laughed: “I got a dog as well, a Rottweiler, and I think he was happy that was around so much with him during the lockdown.
“As for the hair, I was thinking about that this morning. I’m booked in on Monday so we’ll see what I come out with. I might look a bit different if I’m playing at Sunderland on Tuesday.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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