Nolan Looking Forward to Facing Best Mate in Football
Friday, 20th Nov 2020 12:09
Midfielder Jon Nolan is looking forward to catching up with pal – and fellow Merseysider – Shaun Whalley when third-bottom Shrewsbury come to Portman Road tomorrow to launch a busy week that will see Town play three home games in a week.
Nolan and Blues’ team-mate Toto Nsiala both arrived from the Shrews in August 2018, in a combined deal reported to be worth £2 million, but the success they enjoyed during their time there has quickly become a thing of the past as current boss Sam Ricketts’s priority is League One survival.
Under manager Paul Hurst, who was lured to Ipswich that summer but sacked early the following season, Nolan, Nsiala and Whalley clocked up an impressive 171 appearances between them during the 2017/18 campaign that saw the Shrews in action at Wembley on two occasions as they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Championship.
Apart from the end-of-season League One play-off final, in which they were beaten 2-1 by Rotherham, only a few weeks earlier they were also at the national stadium for the final of the Checkatrade Trophy and lost to Lincoln City by the only goal.
Nolan, 28, recalled: “They were very happy days at Shrewsbury. It was a smaller squad than what we have here and it was sort of like the same 11 every single week.
“I wouldn’t say we had anywhere near the quality or the options that we’ve got here at Ipswich. It was like a snowball effect that season, you know, when you win games and you just seem to carry on winning. It just goes like that sometimes.
“There have been a lot of changes since then and I think Shaun’s about the only one left from my time there. He’s probably my best mate in football and it will be nice to see him again. But we need to get the win – that’s the main thing.”
Whalley will be hoping to have a better day than he did the last time he was at Portman Road. The 33-year-old forward was red-carded seven minutes before half-time for a second bookable offence as his side were beaten 3-0 by the Blues.
Nolan has plenty of experience of life in League One and he is convinced the Town squad has the depth and quality to remain in the promotion hunt right through to the end of the season. He said: “We’re good enough to go up and there’s not that much to add to that. You look at the squad and we should be up there.
“This coming week is going to be very important. We have a tremendous home record with five wins out of five and not a single goal conceded so we need to keep that going against Shrewsbury, then Hull on Tuesday and Charlton next Saturday.
“It’s a real chance to build some momentum but we’ve got a few tough weeks ahead when we are going to be playing many of the teams who are expected to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. It could be season-defining really.
“We were talking yesterday about how we didn’t manage to beat the serious promotion challengers last season and we’ve already lost to Doncaster, Lincoln and Sunderland, all in the top half of the table, this season.
“We know how wins against the teams who are going to be up there could help us massively come the back end of the season when it really matters. We have a chance to start putting it right next week against Hull and Charlton.”
Asked if he could explain why Town have consistently failed to claim three points from any of their promotion rivals, Nolan responded: “I don’t have an answer to that I’m afraid. I haven’t got a clue to be honest.”
Photos: Matchday Images/Action Images
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