Dozzell: A Big Season For the Club Ahead
Monday, 10th May 2021 14:19
Midfielder Andre Dozzell was pleased that the Blues ended their disappointing 2020/21 campaign on a high with yesterday’s 3-1 home victory over Fleetwood and is already looking forward to next season and getting the Blues back into the Championship at the third time of asking.
Dozzell has been a fixture in the centre of midfield since Paul Cook took charge, having previously been a regular under Paul Lambert’s management earlier in the season.
“It was important for us to end on a high and take it into next pre-season,” Dozzell said. “We’ve got time to recharge now.
“We’ll do that and we’ll come back, we’ll work hard in pre-season and look to get ourselves out of League One.”
The 22-year-old admits it’s been a tough few weeks with the Blues’ chances of promotion having evaporated during an under par April.
“It has been difficult, it’s been really disappointing,” he said. “As a whole squad, we know we haven’t performed to our best. It’s too big a club to be in League One. We’ve just got to come back in pre-season and work hard.”
Asked what difference new manager Paul Cook has made since he came in at the start of March, Dozzell said: “Just his controlling of the game, he’s always shouting on the sidelines where to be, it just helps us a lot. I think when we get a pre-season under him it’ll be come clearer and it’ll translate onto the pitch.
“He does a lot with everyone [on the training pitch]. With midfielders, he does a lot because he wants us to dictate the play, keep getting on it. He’s relentless, he doesn’t want us to stop. It’s good for everyone.”
Dozzell has made 42 league starts and one sub appearance this season, more than anyone else at the club and more than in his previous five seasons in the first-team squad combined.
“It’s been my most appearances so it’s been good on that note, to get those games under my belt,” he said. “And now it’s time to really push on and try and get this team out of League One.”
Latterly Dozzell has partnered Flynn Downes in central midfield and he believes the two dovetail well.
“I think he complements my game,” he said. ”I enjoy playing with him and I think he enjoys playing with me.”
Having added only two more senior strikes to his debut goal at Sheffield Wednesday as a 16-year-old in April 2016, Dozzell knows he needs to find the target more regularly.
“I always can improve my game,” he said. “That’s one of those areas, getting higher up the pitch, getting goals. But that’s something we’ll look at in pre-season and try to improve on.”
The academy product says he’s excited by what lies in store for the Blues under Cook and the club’s new ownership.
“I am, of course. Being at this big club, obviously it’s been disappointing this year, but we’ve just got to look forward now,” he said. “This season’s done, so we just have to try and get in the Championship next season.”
Before then, plenty of Dozzell’s current team-mates will be making their Portman Road departures with news anticipated on the out-of-contract players this afternoon.
“It’s always sad to see your team-mates move on but that’s football,” he reflected. “You’ve just got to focus on yourself, focus on what you bring to the team and try and help the team.”
Dozzell insists what will remain of the squad is strong enough for Cook to building upon over the summer ahead of the new season.
“One hundred per cent,” he said. “I think the squad we have has underachieved and we’ve got to come back in pre-season and look at why we underachieved and go from there.”
It's now been confirmed that one of those moving on is skipper Luke Chambers, who Dozzell says has had a big impact on his career.
“I’ve known him ever since I’ve been at this club. He’s a great lad around the place, everyone loves him, and a great professional,” he said.
“You don’t get to 700-odd appearances if you’re not a great professional, so he’s going to be a big miss if he does go.”
Has Chambers been a bit harshly treated by some supporters at times? “You could say that, yes. That’s part and parcel of the game. I’m sure he knows that as well, he’s an experienced player. I think we just get on with it.”
Dozzell says Cole Skuse, whose exit has also now been confirmed, will similarly be missed. He says the Bristolian has been something of a role model for him as a fellow deep-lying central midfielder.
“I used to be in the stands watching him,” Dozzell continued. “As I said about Luke, Cole is a great professional as well, on and off the pitch. Always helps the young lads. If he is to go, then it will be sad.
“They’re just good people off the pitch. They welcome you into the [squad] because when you’re young going into a first-team environment can be quite daunting. But those two will put an arm around you, help you out and teach you stuff along the way. They’re two big characters for the club.”
As a former academy player and with dad Jason one of their coaches, Dozzell has taken a close interest in the U18s’ progress in the FA Youth Cup with their semi-final against Liverpool on Wednesday evening at Portman Road.
“They’ve done so well so far,” he said. “I watched their last game [the 3-2 after-extra-time victory over Sheffield United] and they were absolutely brilliant. Hopefully we can even get to the final. It will be a big test for them but I’m sure they’ll be able to do us proud.
“It’s a cup semi-final, anything can happen on the day and with the quality they showed in the last game, I’m sure they’ll be up for it.”
The Ipswich-born schemer believes youngsters will still have a big part to play in the club’s future despite the new owners’ money.
“I think that’s part of the club, bringing players through,” he said. “When you see the U18s doing well you’re thinking there’ll be a few of them coming through.”
Turning back to the Blues’ prospects in 2021/22, Dozzell added: “I can’t wait. It’s going to be a big season for all of us, a big season for the club and hopefully we can get to the Championship.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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