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McKenna: Hirst Has Unique Role
Friday, 1st Dec 2023 17:00

Blues manager Kieran McKenna believes striker George Hirst plays a unique role for his team.

Hirst, 24, joined the club permanently in the summer for £1.5 million following a successful loan spell in the second half of last season having made it clear to his previous club Leicester City that there was only one place he wanted to go.

So far during 2023/24, the former England U17, U18, U19 and U20 international, the son of Sheffield Wednesday legend David, has scored four times but manager McKenna says his role is about more than just goals, the one-time Owls youngster having picked up a further five Championship assists.

“I don't even need to tell him it anymore, he feels the appreciation from the staff, he feels the appreciation from his teammates and he feels the appreciation from the supporters, you can feel it in the stadium,” McKenna said.

“The almost-30,000 Ipswich fans know exactly what they're getting from him at the moment in the game, so he's feeling the appreciation from everyone.

“Of course, he would have liked to have scored a few more goals, a couple of chances that in another season might have gone in, I think he could have had a couple of more penalties for sure and there have been some good saves against him.

“But that's one part of the job and I think the role that he does leading the line for us, it’s a unique balance really. There are not many strikers who are 6ft 3in tall but can also stretch the game and run behind like he can.

“And he's really worked hard to improve his build-up back to play, holding off defenders or dropping to connect with the midfield. 

“He's got an important role on set plays, he's got a really important role in this team and he's really developed as a player.

“I don't need to speak to him all the time on that, he knows that we appreciate him, his teammates appreciate him, and he knows that the supporters appreciate him as well.”

Town have spread the goals around with 17 players having found the net in all competitions this season, 14 in the Championship.

“I think that's one of the biggest things that we've worked on, especially probably after my first four months here in League One where we didn't score in those few months,” McKenna continued.

“We played really well, but we didn't score as many goals as the performances probably warranted.

“So it's been a big, big emphasis over a long period of time now, being a goal threat in different ways.

“Being able to score with balls in behind, being able to score with central combinations like we did the other night, being able to score from low crosses.

“It was nice to see us score from high cross the other night with the first goal and the nod back [from Hirst].

“Being able to score from counter-attacks, being able to score from set players, being able to score from outside the box. Jack Taylor has come in now and especially gives us another dimension on that.

“It's been a big focus of the work day-to-day of the recruitment, of everything, of having a lot of different weapons and ways to score goals, and I think that always puts you in a better position as a team.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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MK1 added 17:08 - Dec 1
He is proving to be an absolute bargain. Creates so much space for others. Fantastic start to our season.

carlo88 added 17:24 - Dec 1
Sort of an Emile Heskey type of role?

Linkboy13 added 17:39 - Dec 1
Playing up front on your own is never easy you have to be prepared to work very hard and spend a lot of time chasing lost causes which Hirst has done excellently. The problem is we haven't got much strength in depth in that area at the moment. Freddy is showing signs that maybe the championship is a bit too much for him at his stage of his career and Kane Scarlet is still finding his feet at a higher level.

backwaywhen added 17:59 - Dec 1
He is priceless at the moment both to his team mates and more importantly his managers instruction , I’ve said previously Hirst is a vital cog in our set up / team and Freddy could not perform that role , different players in both style and physical strength.

RedDust added 18:34 - Dec 1
To be in an offside position?

NthQldITFC added 18:38 - Dec 1
It's true, the crowd here understand the way we play, because KMc has educated us as well as he's educated his players. The vast majority know Hirst is doing a great job as a No 9. with a relatively low personal goal tally, in the same way that there's audible appreciation now every time Vaz and his defenders skin the opposition attackers and draw them into our trap so we can break and score. In the words of Pal Whitehouse - int it Brilliant!

Saxonblue74 added 19:45 - Dec 1
Agree carlo88, Heskey was so good at holding things up, but came in for a lot of criticism for his lack of goals. Hirst was a contender for MOM on weds in my opinion.

BurleysGloryDays added 20:09 - Dec 1
Superb player. Smart, and nice guy too.

Pure Ipswich type imo, love him.

BlueRuin69 added 20:53 - Dec 1
Brilliant stuff from Hirst. Coyb

hyperbrit added 04:36 - Dec 2
I was too harsh on him in another post likening him to Ladapo,but I now think he is a class apart.

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