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Harper: We Matched Them For a Lot of the Game
Sunday, 25th Jul 2021 10:19

New signing Rekeem Harper felt he and his team-mates matched Premier League Crystal Palace for long spells of yesterday’s friendly, which the Eagles won 1-0 via a second-half Wilfried Zaha penalty, and says joining the Blues and helping the club to reach its targets is a great step for his career.

TWTD revealed that Harper was set to join Town from West Brom in early June with the deal finally confirmed a fortnight later.

The 21-year-old played 45 minutes of the friendlies at Dartford and Fulham before being involved for the first 75 yesterday.

“I think the boys did very well, we dug deep, we created a lot of chances, we matched them really for a lot of the game,” the Birmingham-born schemer said.

“We were unfortunate to concede a penalty against them but they’re a top-end team and obviously when you make small mistakes that’s what happens.

“But a great result either way and something we can build on going into the season. To a man, well played everyone.”

He added: “It was a great test and when you want to get to the top of football, these are the games you want to be playing in, playing against top-end teams.

“Like I said before, I thought we managed them pretty well. They’ve got quality all over the pitch and to lose 1-0 but come away having created chances and playing as well as we did, it’s a great confidence-booster going into the season.

“There aren’t going to be teams in League One who are going to be keep the ball as well as they did, so we can obviously learn from what they’ve done today and take them into our games because I’m sure we’re going to be having so much of the ball like that too. It’s a great experience really.”

Town’s work-rate, closing down and putting pressure on the ball was evident throughout and Harper says that’s something manager Paul Cook has sought to instil in his side.

“The gaffer’s pretty big on work-rate because now in football with the way the modern game is you have to be able to run and compete because the players you come up against they can run harder, they can do a lot more with the ball now,” he said.

“That’s exactly what he told us and in football if you can guarantee that if you’re going to work hard and pull the team together, and it also helps knowing what the gaffer wants to do, but being able to work hard and not quit gets you the results in football.

“Everyone’s got talent but it’s those extra yards, that extra mentality to keep going. And that’s why today we had a positive performance because everyone to a man was putting in the work.”

Yesterday marked the return of supporters to Portman Road and the former England U17 and U19 international was delighted to see fans in the stands on his first appearance at his new home ground.
“From my first experience coming in, it’s a massive fanbase and coming here that was something I was told about.

“It’s just great to see the fans, great to have them supporting us and I can’t wait go into the season and have them on our side.”

What can those fans expect of him once the season gets under way? “Just someone who is determined to achieve things. I would say I’m a beast, I’m quite focused, I like to excite people when I get on to the pitch and play with real confidence.

“I like to control games, defend, a bit of everything really. Throughout the season, hopefully I’ll go from strength to strength and keep improving my performances.

“For my first performance here at Ipswich, I’m very proud of my performance and long may it continue, and with the support of these fans I’m sure it’s going to get even better.”

He says the much-changed Portman Road dressing room has been very welcoming: “It’s been pretty easy to settle, from day one the changing room has taken me.

“There are a lot of characters, a lot of people that are focused and I think I just came in and was myself and the team’s taken to me. That just makes it easier coming on to the pitch and trusting everyone.

“I’m pretty confident going into the season with the changing room we’ve got that we can achieve our personal goals.”

Reflecting on his departure from West Brom, who he joined aged 12, he said: “West Brom was my childhood club and when you come up with a team for so long and you’re so comfortable in the area, it’s tough to make a decision to make those next steps.

“But Paul Cook has been great for me from day one when they were interested in me, so I felt it was a great step for my career to go and kick-on and help Ipswich reach their targets.”

Did he feel he was at a stage of his career where he needed to move on to another club? “I went on loan last season to Birmingham and I just felt like once you get that experience of playing first-team football, you want to kick-on and keep progressing. I don’t want to stall in football.

“I’ve got big dreams to go and play in the Premier League and that starts now really. I want to build on playing games and helping the team reach their goals.

“As a footballer, everyone will tell you playing football games, there’s nothing better than that. I feel like coming here is a great step for my career.”

Harper says he first became aware of Town’s interest early in the close season: “Quite a while back now, in the summer I would have known there would have been a little bit of interest and things just escalated pretty quickly.

“I knew what I wanted to do when I spoke to Paul Cook and I saw how the town loves football and it’s a great place to come and play.”

Harper admits that the period between the deal being agreed and finally getting confirmed wasn’t ideal but wasn’t getting too worried.

“It was a bit frustrating but I’m a strong believer that nothing’s due before it’s time and I knew that if it was right and it was going to happen, it was going to happen,” he said.

“I was in contact with Paul quite a lot and he was reassuring me and I knew that in the end it would happen.

“It was more time for me to get ready to come here and get ready for pre-season and, to be fair, I came in on the first day of the boys’ pre-season, so I didn’t miss out on anything. And when I came in here it was like I’d been here for weeks. It happened in the right timing for me.”

Photos: TWTD/Matchday Images

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OwainG1992 added 10:30 - Jul 25
I like this lad more and more.
Simply put if we match his ambition we'll be top flight one day.

NthQldITFC added 10:50 - Jul 25
I think those enthusiastic, open and powerful interview responses reflect what Rekeem brings on the pitch. Really, really pleased to have him at ITFC, think he's going to turn out to be a real Gamechanger here.

ArnieM added 10:51 - Jul 25
You certainly did lads, you certainly did.I’m really encouraged with what I saw yesterday. Never seen Norwood so lean and fit. Get him firings on all cylinders and there’s 25 goals straight away at 5his level. Piggott is just class, and reminds me of a mixture 9f Walters and Murphy all rolled into one. How the hell did we get him ahead 9f Championship clubs, we’ll done Mark Ashton!!! There are goals all over this team. Woolfie looks to have beefed up and looks a different player so far. Keep it going. It OMG , some of the youngsters that played yesterday…..I think we are going to have some squad going forwards.


Edmundo added 10:58 - Jul 25
Really don't think we are far off now: maybe 2 more signings and we're settling in ready for the rubber to hit the road. COYB.

EricsGate added 10:59 - Jul 25
Very Good player and was stand out for me yesterday when on the ball.

Pigott was class
Penney lacked confidence in my opinion but delivers a good ball
Hladky very good
Burns looked good and always tried to attack
Fraser.... Jury’s out for me at the moment. Looked slow and didn’t get in the game at all first half
Bonne I felt for as he came on with all the kids when the game became very stale

BcarefulwhatUWish4 added 11:08 - Jul 25
He really showed some class on the day and his work rate was excellent. Looking forward now to the first game of the season.

hammo56 added 11:36 - Jul 25
To say we matched them for a lot of the game is a bit of an overstatement IMO.
If Palace had taken their chances they could have been 3 up at h/t. The positive is we hung in there even though at times there was a considerable difference in class which you would expect.
Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get a few more signings in especially at CB.

Bert added 11:52 - Jul 25
I went to the game yesterday with fairly low expectations but I was very pleasantly surprised. Work rate was really good, players comfortable on the ball, slick passing and an intent that we have not seen for some time. Ok, Palace had a hatful of chances but we were never overwhelmed. Harper, KVY and Burns and our new goalie were the stand out players for me and young Humpheys a real surprise. No shame in losing to a Premier side. Reasons to be cheerful.

BurleysGloryDays added 11:57 - Jul 25
“Everyone has talent but it’s going the extra yards” - window into Cook’s transfer policy and reason old squad is up for sale, simple as that

shortmarine1969 added 12:04 - Jul 25
We looked decent agaimnst prem side - but still need a good number of players in 2 is not going to cut it,s around 5 we need to be honest our bench had nothing apart from Jackson on it. We had one new player out (Evans) and started with an under 23 on the pitch - that only leaves Nolan and Downes not on bench or in squad - throwing Downes away essentially (using an under 23 instead of him) is a error imo when we are so short.

cat added 13:24 - Jul 25
Agree and with the performance we put in yesterday we’ll compete against any team in league 1. Palace were far superior as a team but you’d expect nothing less. We need a centre half, although the lads defended well for most of the game. KVY was quality as was the keeper.

Linkboy13 added 13:48 - Jul 25
Yes agree KVY looks quality and if he stays fit the big clubs will be sniffing around. He's got one thing that players at this level haven't got athleticism and reminds me so much of the late Dalian Atkinson when he's running with the ball.

Ryorry added 14:16 - Jul 25
Love that interview, he's engagingly thoughtful & articulate, and those comments, esp the hints about fitness, dressing room atmos, and "and it also helps knowing what the gaffer wants to do". All three things highlighting key elements of where it went horribly wrong with Lambert.


Woodbridgeblue1980 added 14:34 - Jul 25
"I'm a beast". Love that. I thought we outplayed them not just atched their play

dude added 15:43 - Jul 25
He sounds like captain material!

Monkey_Blue added 18:27 - Jul 25
Didn’t they pound us for most of the game? Doesn’t matter, it’s pre-season. We played well against wet sham prior to Hurst’s spell. Results and performances are rarely an indication of the coming season.

KernewekBlue added 18:49 - Jul 25
Is Monkey_Blue still here?

Thought the trolls were being eliminated from the site???

That dark cloud ought to be eradicated from here and sent back to his little Canary birdcage forthwith.

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